I was at a conference this week (Casual Connect) for the social online gaming space and had a fun discussion about the awful jobs people have had to do over their careers.
It struck me that even that worst job that you have had can be seen to have given you some form of valuable experience.
Take working at a fast food restaurant for example. I think my time working at the golden arches was the one job that prepared me more than any other for the pressure of Project Management.
A list of things I learned:
The need for speed and accuracy.
When you are making a burger you need to be quick and make it look like something worth eating. Being fast isn’t enough.
While working in a production the faster and more accurate you can get at doing your part the more work you will end up getting!
When something goes wrong with the system you don’t have a lot of time to fix it. The food wagon needs to keep rolling along. How you handle that will be a testament to your courage and intestinal fortitude. A good way to advance is under pressure. Keep a level head and remember your training. You will get out alive.
The same goes for any project you are part of. Using your head to figure out how to get over a particular problem will make you a valuable part of any team.
Rapid changing priorities and how to deal effectively with them.
You get into a groove and know what to expect, even during lunch rush. Then a busload of Senior Citizens shows up and throws your entire pipeline out the window. The team hunkers down and helps each other through the chaos.
No plan survives contact with the enemy! Roll with it and make sure you are on top of what the most important priorities are at that time.
Getting along with others.
You end up working with some people that you really don’t like. You can have a miserable time of it or find ways to A, get along or B, go to Management and find a solution that works for all.
If you are Management knowing how to deal with problematic personnel situations is imperative.
Paying attention to details.
McD’s has spent a long time and a lot of money creating a very detailed series of training programs on how to make the best burger. If you take the time to learn it and really pay attention to the details of what you are doing while making that burger, people will love you for it.
This goes for any studio that you find yourself at. If they have training programs use them to your fullest. If they don’t take the time to learn from those that are willing to give you the info. Pay attention to your environment.
Attention to the pipeline and how my role affects it.
If you are part of the assembly line you want to make sure that what you are doing is going to help, not hinder, what the next person in the line needs to do. The same for who is before you.
Knowing what effect your job has on the ones coming after you will make you a solid part of any team. No one works in a bubble.
While I would never recommend taking on a job that you are miserable doing I find that if you are stuck in one make sure that A, you can get out of it as soon as you can and B, take the time to assess what your experience there may have given you. The craft of entertainment is one of constant evolution. Even the bad experiences can give you some value.