My First Job: The Management Staff Talk about First Job Experiences

Ever wonder how some of the management staff got their start in the working world?
Some of us discovered our love of working with children early – by working part time in after school, recreation and camp programs.  Meanwhile, some of us had a career path that was, shall we say, a little less direct!

What we all do have in common is that, however we found our way here, we LOVE working with children, youth, and families while striving to make our communities better places to live.

graemeGraeme Lovatt, Youth Services Coordinator

My first job was at a bindary factory. I operated a machine that took loose papers and gave them a spine, converting them into books/magazines. At the time, the best thing to come across my machine was the Toronto Blue Jays World Series commemorative magazine. I was able to take a bunch of them to keep!

This was the year after the Jays’ first World Series win against Atlanta, so I would have been 12 years old.

I hated my job. I got the job offer from my neighbour’s mom, who never seemed like a very happy person.  After working in the factory a little while, I could see why she might have been unhappy. At this job, I learned responsibility because I agreed to the job offer, knowing what the work entailed and I wanted to prove I wasn’t a quitter.

That being said, I learned that working in a factory was not for me.  I knew I had to obtain some employable job skills before applying to my next job.

staceyStacey Ool, Rogers Raising the Grade Program Coordinator

My first job was at Camp McGovern as a senior staff Adventure Coordinator when I was 17 years old.

At Camp McGovern I learnt the importance of professionalism, hard work, multi-tasking, being a leader and built wonderful connections with campers and staff, some that have lasted until this day. As Adventure Coordinator, I not only coordinated the waterfront programs/staff team but also led weekly canoe and camping trips. I love the outdoors and feel most at home while paddling in a canoe or sitting by a camp fire and working at summer camps over the course of my university career definitely cemented my passion for all things outdoors.

chrisbChris Blackwood, Program Coordinator
Boys and Girls Clubs of Weston-Mount Dennis

My first job was a camp counsellor, at the age of 14, at St. Lawrence Community Centre.  I had a lot of fun working with the kids in the program.  This experience made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career working with children and youth in camps, sports and recreation programs.

hillaryHillary Tombs, Office Manager

I worked at Burger King, when I was 15 or 16. I worked all over, drive thru, front cashier, and food prep. I usually opened both Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:00am, so I rarely got to sleep in on the weekends. Our drive thru was also open late so sometimes I did the closing shift until 3:00am (no school nights). I worked with lots of different people and dealt with lots of different clientele on the different shifts. For the most part it was great, extra money, and made some friends. Good first job. I was there for about 2-3 years!

annaAnna Sturino, Director of Operations

My first job was at a law firm, Fillon and Wakely and Associates, for their private investigator.  I started by processing all court documents, answering phones,  typing up reports,surveillance recordings and tapes and then eventually helping out on surveillances.  I was about 17 when I started working there.

I learned that it takes forever to process courts documents, and the importance of getting them processed in time. If you don’t, it can change the outcome of a case.  At times we needed to work long hours, 12 to 14 hours a day, to ensure everything was completed before the trial date or mediation. This role taught me so much about work ethics and that working hard and efficiently will pay off in the long run.

chrisChris Foster, Executive Director

My first Boys and Girls Club job was at the West Scarborough Boys and Girls Club. I was 21 and hired as a summer camp counsellor and lifeguard.  It was my first experience working with children and over the summer I saw the positive impact our team had on the children every day. I ended up working there again for the following three summers. The team work, lifelong friends, the difference in children and youth we made, and my personal growth as a leader, led me to rethink my career path. I changed my mind from pursuing a career as an accountant or history teacher to working with children and youth at the Boys and Girls Club!  I could not be happier with my decision and haven’t looked back since.

karenKaren Grant, Preschool Manager

My first job was at a pharmacy – as a pharmacist’s assistant.  I worked several evenings a week after school at Hy and Zel’s Pharmacy.

I got clients’ prescriptions ready, counted pills, and made topical creams.  I learned a lot about drugs! (antibiotics, etc)  It was so quiet some nights the pharmacist would let me do my homework or study in between clients.

ikramIkram Kabadeh, Children’s Program Coordinator

My first job was at Dynamite clothing store as a sales rep when I was 16. I persuaded people into trying on and buying clothes.

I was a big tom boy when I was younger and was ALWAYS wearing shorts and oversized basketball jerseys. This job taught me that I could be comfortable and “girly”. I also discovered my new passion and love for shopping. Getting first dibs on new things was always a perk.

laurieLaurie Taniguchi, Communication and Volunteer Coordinator

Besides babysitting, my first “real” job was when I was in grade 9. I worked as a file clerk in a doctor’s office.  I worked after school twice a week.  I really enjoyed having my own money to spend!  I also liked having the responsibility and it made me feel grown up to go to work with adults.  My job was very boring though. All I did was pull the files of the patients that the doctors were going to see the next day, and put files and reports away when they came in.   From that experience, I learned that I wanted to make sure to get good grades so that I could end up with a career that was mentally challenging and busy. I did know the alphabet like the back of my hand though! 🙂 I also learned the importance of confidentiality as I saw the contents of many files for people who went to my school and lived in my neighbourhood!   The following summer, I got a job as a summer camp counsellor and I enjoyed that way more!

shawnShawn Burgess, Community Director
Boys and Girls Clubs of Weston-Mount Dennis

My first job was a paper route with the Toronto Sun.  I was about 9 or 10 years old and I shared the route with my brother. I learned a lot. I got my first bank account and then learned how to manage my money. I learned how much I hate getting up early in the morning! I learned how dirty papers are and I learned how to be courteous to people. Even though I was happy to be earning my own money, I  really hated my first job.

meganMegan MacDonald, Children’s Program Coordinator

When I was about 16 or 17, I worked at M&M Meat Shop.  I did everything – stock, sell, cashier, close….EAT!! I’m the one that waits patiently while people decided for 20 minutes which meatballs they want to buy, then I get the box, and do the famous “M&M’s selling move” and I bust out my box cutter from my back pocket and open the box to show the customer what they are getting inside…because nothing screams “eat me”, like frozen pork bits in a box!  Then I would wear 18 layers (more than I wear now during winter) and I would stock shelves in the freezer.

I actually liked it because I got to show off my maturity and responsibility for someone other than my mother…who often questioned it!  And it came with a pay cheque!  I also had amazing lunches, hehe!  There was something about being so proud to tell people “I had a job!”

akelliaAkellia Malcolm, Program Coordinator
Boys and Girls Clubs of Weston-Mount Dennis

My first job was at Braeburn Boys and Girls Club. I was a breakfast program leader along with two other staff. I worked with children 6 to 12 years old. To see the children early in the morning was a good experience for me because I was able to prep them for their day. Just the thought of being able to feed them a nutritious snack and get them energized for school was a good feeling. What I learned from this experience was that not every child was fed at home and this program is what they had to depend on to eat in the morning. Sometimes parents had to work early and weren’t able to prepare breakfast for their children and this is why they were sent to the program. Sometimes there were other reasons – either there was not enough money for food at home, or the parents weren’t able to properly care for their kids. I was happy and touched that I could assist these children and put a smile on their face when I interacted with them.

DebbieDebbie Smith, Assistant Preschool Manager

My first job was as a customer service representative for Consumers Distributing/Toy City. I worked there part-time in the evenings and on the weekends. My job was to process customers orders into the computer systems and to cash their orders out. If it was really busy I would also go to the back of the warehouse and pick the orders that were placed. Working in the Toy City part of the store, I made sure the store was neat and that the shelves were organized and presentable. I learned a lot from working this job regarding customers, customer service and patience.

mikeMike Maxwell, Community Director
Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Clubs

My first job was working for my grade 8 science teacher doing yard work and cutting wood.  My best friend and I got in trouble in his class and had to stay inside for detention.  While we were sitting down, we overheard him and another teacher talking about needing their grass cut.  Once our “time out” was over, we went to the teacher and told him that we would come and cut his grass for him on the weekend.  He said ok.  He said to be there the following Saturday at 7:30am.  I showed up, but my buddy didn’t.  I cut grass and trimmed hedges. He was so impressed he asked me to come back in two weeks.  Over the years we built a father son relationship that still exists to this day.  He let me use his car to get my drivers license and even paid for a semester of my college.

As I got older, the main lesson I took from this experience, was that we should never give up on youth.  I often wonder what I would have done if I had been him. Would I have let a kid who was in trouble and not listening in my class come work for me?  He trusted me in his home and gave me a reason to act better in school (at least in his class). His trust and acceptance of me when I was far from perfect is what guides me when dealing with the children and youth that I come in contact with today.