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Keiser's Role: Lessons learned in summer jobs

August 07, 2013 - "A truly American sentiment recognizes the dignity of labor and the fact that honor lies in honest toil" - Grover Cleveland

The recent news of fast-food worker protestors demanding minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour reminded me of summer jobs.

In my last column, I had referenced that I knew way too many teenagers who have never worked a summer job or if they did it was working for their parent.

When I was around 14 years-old I got the same speech from my father that was given to my older sister, which was "If you want a car when you turn 16, you better have some money to buy it." That meant get a job and starting saving.

So somewhere between 14 and 15 years-old I got my first job as a dishwasher at a newly opened bar/restaurant in Lapeer called Lippy's Bistro. After about six to eight months I quit because I didn't like being 14 years-old standing outside a bar at 10 p.m.with drunk people waiting for a parent to pick me up.

From Lippy's I went to Seros restaurant (now, Lucky's Blind Fish) where I started out as a dishwasher and worked my way up to bus boy, where I got paid tips from waitresses. I had a system down where my check would go straight to the bank and be "untouched" and my tip money would be my spending/gas money for the week. It was working there that I earned enough money to buy my first car, a 1995 Ford Taurus.

After a year or two working there I landed a job at Past Tense Cider Mill working in the mill's restaurant from sophmore year of high school to my junior year of college, except for the small stint I worked at a small grocery store called Bryan's Market. Upon graduation I received my first "real job" and was hired by Sherman Publications where I've been worked now for six years in three different offices (Clarkston, Lake Orion and Oxford).

So what is my point in telling you my job history? My point is I WORKED and I learned from working those jobs. I learned what it meant to be dependable, I learned what it meant to meet the standards of your bosses and most of all I learned what it meant to be a good hard worker.

If there is one thing I can say with confidence that is I never had a boss who was upset with my work ethic. Often times I would be the guy called to do the "special jobs" because they knew they could count on me to get done what needed to be done and I always took pride in being that kind of worker.

While I believe good grades and sports are important (both of which I did.) There is something about looking at your first car and saying "I bought that with my own money, which I worked my butt off to get."

I can't say if I was a businessman I would want to hire a college graduate who had never worked a day in his life. How would I know he was dependable, hard working or could meet the standards I set for him if he didn't have a past history to show for it?

Perhaps parents and teenagers need a reminder from inventer Thomas Edison that "there is no substitute for hard work."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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