This is a question I had to ask myself not so far away in time when business wasn’t so good and the money tap was getting dry.
Our over self-inflated ego has a natural tendency to see ourselves as over achievers, super successful people and when hard times come, well, the natural trend is to look for an even better job to be even more successful (success having a different definition for each of us). But the economical environment may set things differently.
So, here I was with a rent to pay, get the kids decent food and make sure they got all what was required for school. The only solution available in my area? A summer job!
The only time I had to get summer jobs was …. close to 30 years ago as a student! And here I was, super graduated, a lovely career, a nice income etc.…without the opportunity at that time to stay on that path.
Challenge one: how do you explain to a supermarket recruiter that even though you have a Ph.D. and are used to management you’ll be able to pill-up salads or cheese?
Challenge two (and the toughest one I think): how do you convince yourself that this is a job you may learn something from?
The answer to challenge 1 was the easiest: motivation! And respect!
Motivation because over my career I have learned that whatever you do you should keep the motivation running! Make sure all your brain layers are ready to push yourself ahead. I like to use “visualisation” (for those who enjoy NLP, this is the visual channel), and “see” the result of my actions, even better, “see” myself succeeding.
If a job exists, whatever it is, it deserves respect.
“Hey Thomas, it’s just a job”. Nope! It is a set of actions that will in a way or another impact the life of someone else. And this someone deserves your respect.
Challenge 2 didn’t get the reply straight ahead. Took time during the job to learn more about different management styles. But guess what?
There is always something to learn! At least about yourself!
Got my summer job (must have been the only summer job guy coming to work in a Mercedes) and started piling up cheese, butter, ham etc. and yoghurt every day from 4 in the morning till noon, working in a huge fridge.
And you know what? I enjoyed it! Here was the 40 (or so) years old fart doing the same job as the students, but the experience and commitment to a perfect result made me the only one who stayed 4 months! Students didn’t last and some didn’t even show up after 2 days on the job! Talk about respect!
Did I learn something (circling back to challenge 2)? Yes!
The more I think about this experience the better the memories! What made it great is the fact that for the first time in my career I had an immediate tangible result for each of my actions! My brain loved it! Tangible and visual proof! Which doesn’t happen most of the time in a more office focused job. I really enjoyed leaving the workplace every day with perfectly aligned shelves full of products! As well as helping people select the products they were looking for.
And of course, I learned a lot about management styles, from the supermarket director to my supervisor’s style, and here is the one lesson I took with me:
You definitely cannot please everyone with your management style.
But the ones who will resonate with it will go the extra mile.
Let me be blunt here: you shouldn’t even try to accommodate your management style to everyone. Flavours, spices, maturation is what makes a great cheese, neutral is what makes a …. boring yoghurt! Want to be the cheese (big cheese?) or the yoghurt?
To answer the article title: yes, you can have a summer job at over 40! And yes, you SHOULD, at least once, get one! It is refreshing and realigns your perspectives and …. ego![:]