My First Job

In the spirit of the blog series going around LinkedIn, featuring thought leaders and influencers writing about the first jobs that they had, some of which laid the foundations for attaining the success and influence they currently enjoy, I want to add to the noise by writing about my first job.

I started working “officially” at around age 14 or 15.Before that, I had briefly been a child actor at around age 8 or 9 in a few local commercials in the American Southwest, as well as performing in the pilot for a show that was to be produced by an Italian film company, based on the old school children’s cartoon, Lucky Luke (check the ballad out here I had also been an altar server in the local Byzantine Catholic church and had worked with my mother “off the books” in a janitorial capacity for the company that she started very briefly.

However, my first, official paid gig, was working in a privately owned dog kennel/animal rescue shelter in Naperville, Illinois. I went in the business in the evenings, after hours and worked from around 5pm to around 11pm.I worked with a team to clean up after the animals, move them from indoor kennels to outdoor kennels, feed them and make sure the place was locked up at the end of the night and that things were prepped for in the morning.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of dog and cat poop as well as bird and reptile poop to clean up on a nightly basis. I once cleaned up after a Kimono dragon. Some of the animals were well behaved; others not so much.  One of the dogs there (who was classified as a “long-term” boarder because she was so neurotic that no family would adopt her) was consistently filthy and borderline dangerous.
And, after all of this, my first paycheck was a robust $68.55, based off of the old $4.25 minimum wage.
This first job taught me three valuable lessons that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else and that I have kept throughout the years that I have worked other jobs and other entrepreneurial ventures:
  • There is no legal, moral, ethical job or position that I am “above” doing. Humility is egalitarian and will take you further than pride, ignorance or ingratitude.
  • There is no benefit to lacking compassion. The animals were unable to take care of themselves and for 6 hours a day for three days a week, I was part of a team that could give them compassion and care.
  • There is nothing valuable in being greedy. To paraphrase from The Big Lebowski, “it’s not about the money!” Sometimes, to get your foot in the door, you have to be willing to play chess at about four levels higher than everyone else and realize–at an emotional and psychological level–that this too, shall pass.

Rolling up my sleeves and getting involved in cleaning up in the arena of peace, talking and writing about new approaches to doing the “same old things,” and pushing to be compensated accordingly, all began at a dog kennel/animal rescue shelter.What was your first job?

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

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