Lessons I've Learned from 30 managers and 22 jobs

BY: DEREK REIMHERR

I started a new job in Atlanta recently (and so did Maggie) which seems like a good time to look backward. How far have I come? It's a doozy. I’m 26 years old and I’ve had 30 managers, 22 different jobs and worked in 15 different industries. Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down:

  • 10 part-time, minimum wage-type jobs
    • Soccer referee
    • Intramural sports referee (think flag football, soccer, ultimate frisbee)
    • Department store cashier
    • Clothing store associate
    • Camp counselor
    • University dining hall worker (I made awesome grilled sandwiches)
    • Pizza delivery driver
    • Restaurant/bar server
    • Caregiver/babysitter
    • University academic tutor
    • 2 apprenticeship/development-type jobs
    • Non-profit Lighting Production Assistant
    • Non-profit Communications and Social Media Associate
  • 7 internship or similar positions
    • Event venue Marketing Intern
    • Real estate brokerage Marketing Intern
    • Newspaper Marketing Coordinator
    • Mobile app Sales and Marketing Coordinator
    • University psychology Research Assistant
    • Food and beverage corporation Field Sales Intern
    • Auto parts company Marketing Intern
  • 4 salaried positions
    • Corporate Analyst
    • Corporate Regional Marketing Associate
    • Marketing agency Social Media Specialist
    • Marketing agency Senior Social Media Analyst (omitted in total because new job)

I count the number of industries I’ve worked in or with at around 14. You might combine a couple of these, but the number is still in the double digits. A few examples: retail, non-profit, food and beverage, real estate, automotive, and agency/firm (or professional services, I guess). 

I’ve had more jobs than most people will have in their whole life. Since I was 16, I've only been unemployed for 6 months in total: two different semesters in college. At times, it was out of need. But oftentimes, I just wanted some extra spending money. I was fortunate enough to have parents who provided a lot of financial support but didn’t spoil me. They always encouraged me to work to earn the things I really wanted.

Because of this, you could argue I’ve got a pretty decent perspective on “work” that other people my age don’t have. Heck, I'd go out on a limb and say I have a perspective that many people will never have.

Furthermore, I’ve had managers from all walks of life: women and men, executive and contractor, millennial and baby boomer, corporate and small business, salaried and hourly, parents and non-parents, married and single, minority and white.

Disclaimer: in all my time, I’ve never had a direct report. I’m only 26 after all - doesn’t seem too unusual. Sure, I’ve led projects, onboarded and trained new employees, taught seminars/sessions, and coordinated teams. But it’s never been up to me whether someone stayed on the payroll.

Here’s the point: I’m going to write a multi-part series on work. I’ll talk about where I’ve seen culture motivate (and demoralize), how managers and leaders can empower (or discourage), and which employees succeed (or fail, myself included).

The goal is to provide you principles you can apply in your own vocation. There should be something here for you whether you’re:

  • Part-time, full-time, or salaried
  • A young professional or seasoned worker
  • An individual contributor
  • A new manager or a long-time manager
  • A senior leader or executive (Going out on a limb with this one. Maybe you’ll learn how to better lead new hires, manage up with your boss, or celebrate your team even if it’s just a birthday.)

This is important. We spend more time at work and with at co-workers than our loved ones. So examining our relationship with our jobs is beyond crucial. When I loved my job, I checked out at the office door. When I didn’t? It couldn’t help but bleed over into my relationship with Maggie. This discussion should provide a framework for you to evaluate your own situation.

We’re going to talk about the main factors that I’ve found influence work satisfaction the most: work environments, managers and leaders, compensation, and your personal performance. 

I’m really excited for this series. Stayed tuned for the next post all about work environments.