Sometimes you hear a story that grabs you — someone does something heroic and it inspires you to try something heroic too. That’s what...
Renea Sapp, Vice President of Finance
First job: washing dishes
The first job I ever had was when I was 14. I remember having to register for Social Security at that point, and I felt very grown up. This was a good feeling until I saw the payroll deductions. I washed dishes in a very nice restaurant in Boonville named Shanna’s. The people I worked with were very nice and the waitress (yes, just one) shared her tips with me at the end of each night. I remember using the money for Christmas gifts for my family, new clothes, and records. . . yes, I’m old. The first 45 I bought was by Bread.
Brenna McDermott, Editor of CBT
First job: selling peaches
One of my first jobs was selling peaches. Eckert’s is a family farm well-known in the St. Louis area, and I worked in their country store during the summers. We sold all kinds of produce, but the hot ticket item was their peaches. People would be waiting outside the store in the morning to buy pounds and pounds of peaches. We would get daily calls from people waiting for freestone peaches that would arrive later in the summer. I wore a red apron and, true to my nature, was lead cashier. That had perks — I got to go cut samples of peach cake, peach pie, peach bread, and, possibly, enjoy a sample or two myself.
Jamie Patterson, Digital Services Director
First Job: administrative assistant
“Ozark Heating and Cooling, this is Jamie, how may I help you?”
15 years later, that phrase still rings in my ears, because in the heat of the summer in a lake resort town, I bet I said it 10,000 times.
As a sheltered farm kid, this gig was my first real taste of business. My first time seeing how money changed hands, how relationships with suppliers kept things rolling, how employee management worked, and, importantly, how a booming business ran.
At the end of that summer, my boss left and started his own HVAC business. I learned a lot from him, and I still admire his entrepreneurialism.
I went on to major in marketing. I wish I would’ve had more experiences like my first job. Now, I serve local businesses just like this, and I can trace my passion for it back to that hot summer, long ago in the HVAC world.
Amy Ferrari, Director of Operations
First job: folding towels
My first job was at Bed and Bath, later to be renamed Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I was 14 ½ years old and, in Massachusetts, legally able to have my first real job. It was time to make the big money babysitting didn’t offer.
It was your typical mall retail job. If I wasn’t ringing up a sale, I was folding towels. I can’t imagine how many towels I folded over the course of that job. Thirty one years later, I still fold my towels the way I was taught at the store. They need to line up correctly before they can be put away. I truly hate when anyone else folds my towels because they are never done correctly!
Erica Pefferman, President
First job: forecaddie
My first job was being a forecaddie for golf tournaments at Briarbrook Country Club when I was 11 years old.
We would speed up play in their big tournaments by watching where all the balls landed and marking them with flags. In exchange, the golfers would tip us.
I paid for my band camp tuition with this every summer. Yes, I’m a geek.
Kate Morrow, Graphic Designer
First job: aspiring pastry chef
I begged for one of my first jobs at 16. I helped out during a fundraising opportunity at a small bakery downtown and decided I wanted to work there. It was owned and run by a single woman with maybe two other regular employees. She was hesitant at first, but my persistence and optimism eventually won her over and I started working Wednesdays after school for two hours a week. I had fun the first day — then I realized I wasn’t going to learn to be a pastry chef or even learn to bake. I was going to learn how to defrost frozen pastries, clean, and make cookies. I stuck it out for a few months because I had never quit anything before so I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about doing that. Then one evening, we were alone in the shop and started chatting, she warned me she was going to tell me something weird. She said (and I’m paraphrasing because it’s been 16 years ago), “Over the years, I’ve learned one thing about life. I. Am. God.” I am pretty certain she was being philosophical, and now, as a mid-30s woman, I get what she was trying to say about having power over her own life and making the choices she wants and needs, rather than doing what pleases others or waiting for some “sign.” As a 16-year-old, though, I hightailed it out of there that night and then made up a school-related conflict to politely quit.
Sometimes, I look back on that and feel I may have missed an opportunity to be open-minded and learn a huge life lesson, but I think it would have been prematurely wasted on a 16-year-old girl who just wanted to learn to bake pastries.
JJ Carlson, Web Services Director
First job: Hy-Vee
I wish I could write an interesting story about my first job, but it would be so boring. I worked for Hy-Vee, as so many do for their first job. Sure, when I worked the stock crew, one time we told one of the employees that the dressings, particularly the Italian dressings, needed to be shaken every night. And I suppose it was funny when we told one of the young employees that the freezer needed mopping. We did enjoy using the speaker system to be immature and screech nonsensical phrases to the entire store. There were a couple of times where we used brooms and bad produce to play hockey. I also bet that management would not have been thrilled with our potato fight (think snowball fight, but with bad potatoes). Regardless, it was just a basic first job. I worked for Hy-Vee off and on for over 10 years — I even got to be the dairy guy for years in college, which was a very cold experience. But I also worked hard and did good work, for what it’s worth. I also stopped the crazy and immature stuff in my college years.
Cassidy Shearrer, Editorial Designer
First job: barista
I worked as a barista at my friend’s dad’s coffee shop. I was almost 15 and I had to fill out special paperwork because I was so young. The shop was super slow and I remember learning how to play card games like Egyptian Rat Screw and Palace after I’d wiped off the already clean tables for the second time. I was a terrible barista. Someone used to order double espresso from us and I feel so bad for him. The shop eventually went out of business, but since I had “experience” I was able to get my second job at another coffee shop. I ended up working in coffee for about 12 years, going from slacker to latte art competitor.