When you land your first ever job, you’re rarely at a stage where you think, “How will this play into my future career?” Mowing lawns, babysitting, delivering the morning paper...how could these common sources of a couple bucks for kids and teens influence the rest of our lives? We asked several folks in the Heartland Dental family to recount their first jobs and share the lessons learned there. Surprisingly enough, a few directly played into the direction that led them to where they are today!
Seth Gibree, DMD, FAGD, Senior Director of Clinical Advocacy
I established my own lawn business at 13 or so years old, starting with one lawn and expanding to over a dozen a week. This job taught me to be driven, independent, the art of negotiation, how to be detail oriented (I loved making all the lines go certain directions - weird I know!) and to make sure to get the job done. Around the same time, I was a basketball referee, having grown up playing basketball and having a love for the game. Every weekend I would work about 12 games, as well as a couple games a week. In college, this led to becoming one of three student managers in our Campus Recreation Department. I kept reffing until I graduated dental school. It taught me how to communicate with others, commitment, connecting with different personalities, conflict resolution, confidence in my decision making and also helped to pay some of my bills during school which lessened my loans.
Katie Thielsen, Manager of Talent Attraction & Employer Branding
My first job was at a Tropical Sno (shaved ice) stand. Only one person would man the stand at a time. After a summer working eight hours a day in what felt like solitary confinement, I knew whatever my future career held, having a team around me and working with people would be a must. One of the reasons why I love my current role on the Corporate Communications & Brand Management team so much! Looking back, however, I do believe that my summer spent solo in the Tropical Sno hut taught me to be self-reliant and forced me to problem solve for myself.
Jim Cook, Vice President and Chief Information Officer
My first job was working on a pheasant farm in the Missouri summer heat. Of my many duties, I had to patrol the pens looking for injured birds, clean out the barns, repair the fence and netting, coral the birds, cage them for sale, de-beak and put blinders on the pheasants. Did I mention the summer heat? Air conditioning and inside work became a priority as I contemplated my yet to be determined future. (Plus the smell is better!)
Joanna Dames, Senior Director of Operations
The lesson I learned at one of my first jobs that I continue to live by today is the importance of customer service. Working at an ice cream stand called Diamond Delight when I was 15, two small boys came to the window on their own. I helped them as I would have helped any child, knowing how big of a deal the excitement of an cream cone is to them. To me it was a normal order, but I must have done something special in their mom’s eyes. She approached the window, complimented me on how well I treated her boys and asked if I’d be willing to watch them through the summer. This turned into an almost full time second source of cash for me, and, when I turned 16, it offered a steady income in the winter when the ice cream stand closed for the season. It showed me how important it is to treat everyone well, even when you think no one is watching.
Regardless of where we started our careers, we’re happy to have ended up at Heartland Dental. If you want to join our family, visit jobs.heartland.com.