Hey guys! So today I want to write about something that has been a huge part of my life for the past 3 months: my job. Back in the beginning of May I started my first ever job, working full-time in a greenhouse. Since then I’ve been working 5 days a week, 40-45 hour weeks, doing things like watering plants, cleaning plants, pricing plants, moving plants, and providing customer service to people who want to buy plants. I’m not actually interested in gardening or plants, but I thought that working in a greenhouse would be an interesting summer job. Also they hired me before I had the chance to apply anywhere else.
In retrospect, maybe I should’ve gone for something a little less demanding for my first ever paying job. Going from never having worked a day in my life, to suddenly working 45 hours a week doing a physically and mentally demanding job was really, really tough. Just the act of being on my feet for 8-10 hours a day was difficult – paired with having to adjust to a new setting and new people, learning how to work with plants, and learning about the different kinds of plants we carried, it was exhausting. In the first few weeks that I worked, I would run out of energy by 2pm, and then would spend the last 3-4 hours of my shift just trying to complete my tasks without falling asleep. I’d then commute home, eat dinner, take a quick shower, and crawl into bed, too exhausted to do anything else. It was rough.
I think that working in a physically demanding job in a completely new-to-me field would have been difficult at any time, but I think that it being my first job made things harder. I had never had coworkers or a supervisor before, I wasn’t used to being told what to do all of the time, I wasn’t used to workplace dynamics, I didn’t know how paychecks worked, and I was constantly terrified that I was going to get fired for every little thing that I did wrong. Eventually I came to realize that if I overwatered a certain plant, or staked a plant wrong, that the worst thing that was going to happen was that I’d get told off, but the feeling of inadequacy and not being good enough stayed with me until recently.
About a week after I had begun working, my boss called me up into her office, and told me that she wasn’t sure if I was suited for working in a greenhouse. She said that everyone in the greenhouse liked me, but she just didn’t think that it was the right kind of job for me. I told her that I understood that I was a bit slower at everything than everyone else, but that I thought that with a little bit more time to learn things, I would settle into the job and get faster and better. She suggested that I keep working through the May 24 weekend (when the greenhouse would start to get really busy) and then see how things were going after that. On the way home from work that day I thought that maybe my boss was right, and that I should take the opportunity to quit the tough, demanding job in a field that I wasn’t even interested in, and spend my summer doing something that I would enjoy better.
As you can probably guess, I ended up staying. I skyped with my parents that evening, who told me that quitting would be a terrible idea. Their reasons were that a) leaving a job after working there for less than two weeks would look terrible on my resume, b) I needed to suck it up and get used to the idea that I’m not going to love all of my jobs, and c) getting full-time work experience was really important. I didn’t really like the things that they told me, and although the idea of spending my summer doing something fun and exciting that didn’t involve waking up at 7am every morning to work in a greenhouse was tempting, I eventually came around. Also, I felt like quitting would mean that I had failed at my first ever job, and I hate failing. So I made the decision to not quit, and strangely enough, work became a lot better after that.
If you’ll remember from earlier in the post, I was offered the job at the greenhouse before I had the chance to apply at any other jobs. You see, last summer, I had been in Toronto for 2 months, and had applied at the greenhouse then, but they didn’t need anyone at the time, so they told me to reapply for the next summer. So this year, in March, I reached out to my current boss, asking if they were still interested in hiring me, and she said that they were. The whole process of getting the job was fairly easy then, so I didn’t have much need to contemplate whether I actually wanted to work at a greenhouse, or what working at a greenhouse would entail. My mental ‘this is what you should do’ checklist told me that I needed a summer job, so I got one, no questions asked. So almost getting fired was the first time I had really thought about whether or not I wanted to work at the greenhouse, and after I had decided that yes, I did want to work here, I started enjoying work a lot more. Funny how mindset can change everything.
Anyways, May 24 weekend passed, I got better at my job, and my boss never even asked if I wanted to stay or not. Over the weeks, I learned how to do all of the tasks that I was asked to do, I became more familiar with the plants that I worked with, I began to be able to actually help customers when they had questions, and I stopped being so darn exhausted all of the time. I was able to help the new girl who was hired, I started getting more responsibilities, and I began to feel more confident about my abilities to not fail at my job. I thought that I was finally settled into my job, and that things were as good as they were gonna get. But then I discovered the joy of coworkers.
I’ve always known that my coworkers and supervisors are really nice, non-yelling, pleasant people to be around, but only recently have I realized that my relationships with them don’t have to be strictly professional, and really started talking to them. I guess when I started working, I never talked to my coworkers about anything other than work because I didn’t want to seem unprofessional or like a slacker, and on breaks and lunches I was always reading a book. I’m also an introvert, so new people are always a bit scary to me, and I’m not very good at having conversations with strangers. I mean, I would make small talk with coworkers sometimes, but I didn’t think it was appropriate to joke around a lot, or to waste time talking instead of working, so I kept to myself most of the time. But as I settled in to my job and let myself relax a bit more, and as the greenhouse got a bit less busy, it became a bit easier for me to interact with my coworkers in a less formal manner.
There was also a company bbq in mid-July, which was a great opportunity to get to know some of the people who work in other parts of the garden centre a bit better. At the garden centre, the different departments are fairly segregated, so I don’t see much of the people who work in the tree nursery, or in the yard, or in deliveries, so it was nice to actually meet all of the people that I would randomly see sometimes around work. I’ve also bonded with a few of the cashiers over the cute contractors who come in, and have begun to hang out with them outside of work too. Overall, I think that work is so much more interesting, fun, and engaging when I can talk to and joke around with my coworkers. I think back to when I used to exclude myself from discussions that my coworkers would have, and cringe. Why couldn’t I have figured this out sooner? Oh well, at least I know now.
The past 3.5 months have been crazy intense, and I’ve learned so, so much, not only about working and plants, but also about myself and life in general. Although I still don’t see myself going into a plant-related field, I think that a lot of the things I’ve learned will be useful in the future – from what a peony is, to how to ask for days off, to how waking up at 5:30am to work a 10 hour shift is something that I’m capable of doing, and everything inbetween. I even feel a bit sad when I think about how I only have one week left of working there before I move onto a new chapter of my life. It’s funny how much can change in a few months.
Yikes this is a long post, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading about my first-job adventures and all of the things I’ve been through in the past few months. In the comments, I want you to tell me how my first-job experience compares to yours!