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Career Coach: Every Job Counts

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson discusses how building your reputation starts with your very first job.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

You start building your reputation on your very first job. Your reputation is your invisible resume and it is truly powerful. You can build a solid career if you are perceived as a reliable, responsible and enthusiastic team player. Working hard at every job you have will lead to greater opportunity. My teenaged daughter is discovering how early that principle begins to work.

Last year, my daughter worked for a few days at Soaring Colorado, a zip line tour through an old growth ponderosa pine forest near Durango, Colorado. ( She demonstrated to the owner that she not only worked hard, but enjoyed interacting with guests. During her tryout in 2008, my daughter proved herself and was invited to return this year for a few weeks’ apprenticeship. Hard work paid off with her dream summer job.

My daughter was a diligent student at her elementary school, Laurence School, ( ) and that hard work paid off when she applied to the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center ( A fellow classmate at TVMSC and his father offered to help her obtain her SCUBA certification–yes in the heartland of Idaho–because she exhibited an interest in science and exploration, and a strong work ethic. The SCUBA instructor knows that his time and efforts to teach my daughter will be time well spent as my daughter will study and take the lessons seriously. She knows she is getting a rare opportunity to learn a special skill because of all of her hard work in school.

Answering the phone, filing, and distributing messages may seem mundane and boring, but if you put your full effort in and take pride to do the best job you can, you will be noticed. My daughter’s job as an office aide in her first year of junior high paid off last year. The staff in the office strongly recommended her for a spot in the yearbook class. The yearbook at her school always wins awards and being on the yearbook staff is highly prestigious. Normally you have to apply for this class the previous year and you have to be pre-approved by the yearbook teacher. But with the endorsement of the office staff, especially one counselor who knew my daughter’s work ethic, my daughter got a spot in this highly coveted class. The yearbook teacher soon promoted my daughter to a layout editor and as a ninth grader this year she will be the editor in chief.

Every job is important to your employer–otherwise he/she wouldn’t pay you money to do it. Even if your job isn’t what you dream of doing, give it 100% during working hours.

If you are enthusiastic, responsible and industrious on every job you get, no matter how seemingly trivial, you will build a reputation as someone people will want to work with again.

That reputation will bring opportunities you never expected and take you places you never dreamed of. It’s never too early to start.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter and career coach and is discovering her hard work is finally paying off. Pamela is presenting her Career Strategies Workshop at the Art Institute of Indianapolis on August 26 and at the Art Institute of Las Vegas on September 3. She is available for speaking engagements, career coaching or recruiting. Contact her at