First Jobs: What I Learned Scrubbing Toilets

B5 Media Content Manager, Christina Jones recently wrote on Biz Chicks Rule about the similarities of running a beauty salon and managing content for B5 Media. She inspired me to delve back into the catacombs of employment memories. My first job outside of the elementary school strawberry picking experiment was domestic in nature. Every Saturday I cleaned house for a ‘rich lady’. (With her husband, she owned a raspberry farm where I later worked – but that’s another set of lessons.)

Transferable Skill: Toleration of grunt work
I have literally grunted while cleaning house. It’s hard work. The ability to get over yourself and do the task at hand will be appreciated in many different jobs. When I advanced to the lofty position of Bank Teller, my supervisors loved that I would file account signature cards without complaint.

Later, when I learned that my glamorous consulting job consisted of long stretches of document inventory and tedious verification and cross referencing of facts and figures, I excelled because I was able to plow through the 80% grunt work to the 20% analysis. Had I grumbled over the easy stuff, my supervisors may have given the plum tasks to a more pleasant junior staffer. I saw more than a few MBAs who didn’t make it 6 months because of a bad attitude toward the monotonous. Gotta take the bad with the good.

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Accept and Enjoy the Tedious
You learn a lot tending to the details of a business. And contrary to what some people believe, conscientiously and even enthusiastically completely mundane tasks does not mean you’ll be relegated to them forever. It signals to your employer that you’d be great at teaching (ie. delegating) them to the next quality employee who comes along. Remember, that’s how we get ahead – by helping others get ahead too.

There are many other things you can learn cleaning house. Attention to detail, efficiency, the importance of rubber gloves. Next time you’re cleaning house – for pay or just for glory (this is for you wannabe mama entrepreneurs too after all) – let your body go through the motions while your mind gets creative on the ways you can create a different situation. You just may create the work of your dreams from a tub of scrubbing bubbles!