My first job was as a Reservationist for Hertz Rent-a-Car when they opened their Worldwide Reservations Center in Oklahoma City.
Here are some valuable lessons I learned from my first job.
- You are there to learn how to do a job ~ and in the process you can also learn life skills! As an entry level Reservationist, my responsibility was to book car rental reservations by phone. I had a headset and sat in a cubicle with a computer screen in front of me. I answered incoming calls with a warm greeting. First and foremost, I learned how to take control of a telephone conversation. In real-life, it is usually the caller that should take control of the conversation; because, well, they are the one who called you. But when you are answering a business phone, you should always be the one in charge ~ the one who quickly discovers what the person calling wants and needs so that you can take care of them and make them happy.
- You don’t always have to firehose people with everything you know about a situation. I can’t tell you how many times my supervisor would review my calls and tell me, “Karen, you don’t have to tell them everything…you have to learn how to handle your calls faster!” Uh…I thought what I was sharing was very useful and helpful information, but you have to balance what’s helpful with what’s necessary which in some cases is to work faster!
- Sometimes seniority matters. Since the reservations center was a 24-hour a day, 7-days a week operation, I had to start out working nights and weekends. I had to wait to be given a day shift with weekends off. That’s just the way it is!
- Working hard in entry level positions can lead to promotions and being recognized for your hard work. After taking general calls, I was promoted to the Executive Desk where I could handle reservations for business accounts. Following that job I was the secretary to the Operations Manager (photo below ~ I can’t believe I found that!). Finally I worked in Customer Relations handling customer complaints when Hertz moved the department from New York to Oklahoma City. All of that in 3 1/2 years. When I worked as a secretary and in Customer Relations, I was given a real desk of my own ~ that wasn’t shared with anyone else. When I was a Reservationist, where I sat was always changing ~ sometimes I was working domestic calls and sometimes international ~ and every day you would leave work and take your headset with you because when you returned you would be plugging your headset into another station. Since my desk was always changing, having my own desk was a real step up!
- While working in Customer Relations, I learned how companies view complaints. Times have probably changed now with everything being electronic, but I did learn that if you really have a complaint you should address your grievance to the President of the Company by name ~ those complaints are handled first and with the most generous gestures of goodwill!
- Always be proud of the work you are doing. I look back on my first job and I think “I did it!” I showed up for work every day and did my best. I got along with my fellow employees and I actually enjoyed the work and felt what I was doing was important to the people I talked to, because whether they were traveling on business or vacation, I didn’t want to make a mistake that would frustrate them later.
- You can live on a tight budget. My first job did not pay very well; however, I was certainly able to pay my rent, buy a car and buy my own food and clothing. I am happy to say that my parents never offered to rescue me. Once I left home, I was on my own! And you know, if there are struggles in the beginning ~ like my first car didn’t have air conditioning ~ these struggles only make you stronger and they make you appreciate things as you acquire them. When you have more, it will help you appreciate it because you will be quite aware of what it is like when you had less!!!
- Finally, take pictures and keep them!! Someday when you are sharing with someone about your first job, you can post a picture; because “a picture is worth a thousand words” as they say!
As a Christian, we take to heart the words in the Bible that say:
23 Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.