I've held jobs or internships pretty consistently since I was about 16 years old. I've gained life experiences in all of them. Each work environment has improved my abilities as a person in some way or another.
To be honest though, more often than I'd like, I've found myself poorly positioned in these jobs on the tedium vs. reward continuum. Many of these jobs or internships have been way more boring and difficult than they've been useful in my financial or intellectual development.
As I analyze my time at Victory Step, I realize that it's been these past mixed experiences that have given me a greater appreciation for the work environment at this company. I'm also in a skilled position, doing something useful in the world, and using my talents as a test taker and teacher to help students. I enjoy my job now, and I like my boss a lot. But like many, I haven't always been so lucky.
My first "real" job was at Genghis Grill (before that I'd spent summers answering phones and filing documents at my Mom's office.) It had been one of my favorite restaurants as a kid, mainly because they offered the colorful Jones sodas, and created what seemed to be a fun and exciting dining environment. Now while I sometimes enjoyed my time during my shifts, mostly in getting to know the various interesting personalities of my bosses and coworkers, I was naive to assume that working at a "fun" restaurant is just as exciting as eating at a "fun" restaurant. I worked as a host, and was charged with taking customers to their seats. It was fun to people watch, and I developed a deeper understanding of just who Genghis Grill's customers are. When I wasn't bored to tears rolling silver wear or cleaning tables, I entertained myself thinking and observing
Unfortunately, not all was sunshine at Genghis Grill Mongolian Grill. As a host, I was the lowest paid staff member in the "front of the house" as this was the only job available to someone under 18 who can't, according to state law, serve alcohol. I made seven dollars and something per hour even though I often did all of the same work that the servers did - taking drink orders, delivering food, bringing condiments, etc. And because I made a lot less money doing essentially the same amount of work, I was supposed to be given a small percentage of the tips that waiters received each night.
At first I was not diligent in following up on and collecting these tips. I thought that they were automatically added into my bi-weekly paycheck. After my first two paychecks, I did some calculating and realized that the tip outs weren’t being included. I went and talked to one of the managers only to find out that they were kept in the back office (duh!) - even though no one had told me.
We went to the back, and he forked a small pile of cash over - something like 30 or 40 dollars, which by my figuring was about 250 dollars short. I talked to another manager, who had nothing to tell me. That’s all the money that’s there. Thats your tip out.
Cooooool, I thought. Not only am I doing a server's work for a host's pay, the one financial perk of the job is getting stolen from me. From then on out you can bet I picked up my tips diligently after every shift! Still I felt wronged and taken advantage in a way that didn’t go away.
Later, I figured out who ended up stealing the money. There were three or four managers who had access to the back office at different times so it was impossible to conclusively point the finger at anyone. Yet I talked to a few other employees and we all concluded the same thing: it was probably "Steve." Although personable, Steve was a sketchy guy and I found out that other employees had noticed first hand money getting "lost" when he was in charge. I personally knew he had more or less flexible morals after the first or second day I was working for him, when he told me got kicked out of High School as a ninth grader for beating a classmate to within an "inch of his life" for making fun of him for being a "white boy." I also once heard him conducting a drug deal on the restaurant's phone. He was an entertaining coworker, if lacking in moral scruples.
My time with the managers at Genghis Grill contrasts greatly with my time working for Victory Step. Varun (Victory Step's Founder) has been an excellent boss, and embodies important traits that my manager at Genghis Grill was lacking. Importantly, after working closely with Varun for over a year and a half, I know that he brings integrity into everything he does. He has a very well defined moral compass when it comes to his employees and clients, and will always go the extra mile to make a customer satisfied; he expects the same of his employees.
Unlike the managers at Genghis Grill, Varun pays his employees fairly and treats us with respect. Not to sound corny, but he also cares about us as individuals. I was very sick not too long ago and he insisted on finding a replacement for me for one of my shifts, even though I told him I could make it. He's just a generally decent guy, which makes a huge difference in a boss.
I also think his integrity and high expectations shine through in the whole Victory Step experience. As I said, we always give 110% to deliver on what we promised, as there's no gimmicks or shortchanging in our results. I can appreciate Victory Step so acutely because it compares so favorably to the subpar places I've worked at before.