Berkeley Dental Laboratory - July 2020

July 2020

The Bay Area Beacon

I always think it's great when people are willing to share their very first jobs in the workforce. I love learning about all the different experiences they had and how it all connects to how they are living their lives today. As someone who grew up spending a lot of time in a grocery store, there are many life lessons I wouldn't have learned (or would've learned far differently or later in life) without my parents' ingenuity and resourcefulness. I remember that I used to be amazed by the way they ran the store. It was just fascinating to see my mom's interactions with customers at the register and how happy people would be to give their money to her. I technically worked two jobs before I turned 10, which would be considered strange today, but in many ways, I credit those experiences with rounding out my life education. Traditional education is very important too, of course. If anything, summer jobs like a grocery store (my first "job") or paper route (my second job when I was 9) will teach you that the right education will open up more opportunities. However, research has shown that not all life skills can be learned through education. For example, in his book "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World," Adam Grant might've said it best: "Teachers tend to discriminate against highly creative students" since they tend to make up their own rules, so "many children quickly learn to get with the program, keeping their original ideas to themselves." Meanwhile, working at a business can teach you when and where originality and risks will pay off. Being in an environment where my dad created his own system for taking inventory and restocking shelves was something that really interested me. It sparked my desire to be a business owner, even though I was very young when I started helping around the store. I understand now that many people don't realize how fluidly a business can change or adapt until they work in one themselves. The first job I truly got on my own was a local paper route when I was 9 years old. Back in the early ‘80s, you'd just call a local newspaper, and a manager would visit your house, tell you the streets, and how many houses would be available to deliver to. Then, you'd tell them whether or not you could do it. From what I can remember, I don't recall my parents even needing to sign any documents to approve of us taking the job. Strange, right? Then, every morning, a white van would come by and drop off | 510-525-0135 What Summer Jobs Teach Us Darrell Reflects on the 2 Jobs He Worked Before Age 10

the large stack of newspapers that was tied up with string on our front porch. It was very different back then! I always did deliveries with my brother who is only a year older than me. He had his own paper route too. We'd wake up at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning. We needed to fold and wrap them with rubber bands before going on our delivery route. That wasn't a problem most of the time, except once every week when we could barely put a rubber band around the Sunday papers

because they'd be so thick from all the ad inserts. Then, we'd put all the papers in the bag they provided. It's designed to be worn over your shoulders with the papers hooked over the front of your chest and back. We found a way to clip them onto our BMX's handlebars, so we did our routes on our bikes. Once a month, we'd also knock on the doors of our customers' homes to collect the subscription money. That was tough at first; the manager warned us that people will actively avoid paying. But it was also the first time I got to really understand those interactions between my mom and her customers that I was so fascinated with. It was great learning how to interact with adults at such a young age. The customer service experience was very educational: It taught me how to be persistent and patient and how to maintain a good-natured attitude through it all. Visiting our customers every month used to be the scariest part of the job. Once I got to know my customers, it later became the best part and something that I looked forward to. These days, I don't have to mentally brace myself for Sunday mornings. But I do think fondly of those early childhood memories and wonder the ways my kids will find those experiences in their own lives. I know it's hard for us to predict the future of summer jobs at the moment with unemployment at a historical high. At the time of writing, although the lockdown continues, I am determined to adapt and change to the times as needed. We will work harder and safer than ever to serve our customers. I can't wait to see all of our doctors and staff members on the other side of all of this — and if you're a dental practice reading this now that is not yet a customer of ours, then we are looking forward to meeting you too! Thank you very much for reading!

–Darrell Lee


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