Lessons learned from teenage jobs

Heidi Zak, founder of ThirdLove, shares her experience working on a farm stand as a teenager.

“I think my dad is my biggest influence. He grew up on a small farm outside of Pittsburgh. Through a lot of hard work and by focusing on education, he has been really successful in business. I think it’s true in life that when you work hard, things will work themselves out for you. That work ethic is also something that I look for when I’m hiring.

“My first job was when I was 14, I grew up in western New York, and I worked at a farm stand. There are two things that I still use today from the job. One is how to make things look really beautiful. It was very much learning how to merchandise – how do you make them look compelling for a customer that is going to walk in. The other thing was I learned how to think about the customer, what their needs were and how to sell to them effectively.”

Jobs can teach a teenager valuable commercial awareness, especially when they can see a direct link between their actions and how well the business does. In a restaurant it’s reflected in their tips. On a farm stand it’s how many customers say yes. In a clothes store it’s how many browsers buy.

It might spark questions like… “What if this was my own store?” “What if I owned this restaurant?”