As the temperatures start to drop and the air begins to cool down, we’re closing out the summer with the final part of our First Summer Jobs series. Over the last few months, we connected with our colleagues near and far as they reminisced about those teenage summers where they experienced their first glimpse of the working world. From lifeguarding to cleaning local parks to serving at a pizza shop, our colleagues reflected on what they learned and how their experiences still serve them today in their roles at Braze.
What was your first summer job?
Eric Sanders, VP, Enterprise Sales, Americas: I was a counselor at a day camp in my hometown, Sylvania, OH. My campers were 4-year-old preschoolers.
Shravya Rao, Business Development Representative (BDR): My first summer job was as a camp counselor for a day camp in my hometown. I worked specifically with first graders!
Jasmine Cortez-Vera, Director, Regional Marketing: My first job was being an intern at the NYC Department of Education via the Summer Youth Employment Program
Christine Borkowski, Senior Customer Onboarding Manager, Enterprise: I first started working as a server at Palumbo's Pizza in NJ. I served tables, heated up slices, cleaned, and handled the cash register
How old were you when you began your first summer job?
What skills did your first summer job teach you?
Eric : I distinctly remember a counselor leadership training session in which the Camp Director did a workshop on the difference between being "assertive", and being "aggressive". Working with little kids, every day there were opportunities to make sure they were staying safe, keeping up, cleaning up, etc. The point of the workshop was to make sure everyone was doing what they needed to do, while approaching any situation with a calm resolve. Though I forget this lesson often, it's helped me in my personal and professional life to this day.
Shravya: Being a camp counselor taught me a lot about responsibility and working independently. It was just me and one other counselor in charge of a group of about 15 first graders, so we definitely had to work together to make sure they were being looked after throughout the day.
Jasmine: As an intern on the team, I mainly helped out with admin functions such as data entry and (get ready, I'm about to date myself) making copies. I learned how to take direction from my boss, and most importantly ask questions that would help me prioritize my work based on the needs of the organization.
Christine: My first summer job taught me time management, poise, and patience with customers. Palumbo's was a fast-paced pizzeria and restaurant, so I had to serve multiple tables at once. On a busy night, it was a lot, but I learned over time how to stay calm and poised under (temporary) pressure.
What are skills you learned at your first summer job that help you today in your current role at Braze?
Eric: Working with a troop of little kids, you learn very quickly that things don't always go the way you plan them. I learned to approach unexpected situations as opportunities to have new experiences; to leverage my training when things go wrong; and to always have a backup plan for when it rains and you can't go to the pool!
Shravya: One skill I learned from my first summer job was how to work independently. It was one of the first times I'd been in a position to make important decisions on my own, so I had to learn how to think on my feet without consulting someone else first. I think being able to work autonomously has helped me a lot on the Sales team.
Jasmine: I learned the importance of a good leader to motivate and challenge a team. I also learned the value of constructive criticism to help oneself continuously improve. This was one of the first times in my life that I had to hear that I was doing something wrong, but more importantly, was given direction on how to improve my performance.
Christine: One thing that I also took away was that it's important to forge good relationships with your coworkers. Some of my former coworkers are still my friends to this day!
What is one piece of advice you would tell your younger self starting out your career?
Eric: Never pass up any opportunity to learn, and take chances on yourself early on. Even if you don't succeed, you'll put yourself in a better position to gain experience and wisdom in the process.
Shravya: Try as many different things as you can and don't be super picky. Working different types of jobs while you're younger is a great way to learn new skills and figure out what you like and don't like. Everything can offer a unique experience.
Jasmine: Be open to new experiences and use your passions as a guiding light to open new doors, even in a professional setting. I happened to study marketing in college, but I honestly had no clue what type of career that would lead to. I ended up on the pathway to B2B marketing due to an opportunity that I took solely based on my passion for the organization that hired me, not necessarily my skill set.
Christine: Some advice I would share with my younger self is to be kind to yourself. At a young age, you’re always learning and doing your best, so being able to listen and take direction from others is a good skill to learn while you’re young.
What is one fun or outstanding memory you have from your first summer job?
Eric: Many of the campers were siblings or cousins of some of my close friends, so I’ve had a chance to watch them as they’ve grown. The thing that has made the biggest impression on me comes from watching the incredible growth and change over the span of years, as the little kids who were sometimes unruly and rambunctious developed into highly successful students and professionals.
Shravya: It was always really fulfilling when one of the kids would tell us that we made their summer fun or that they loved having us as counselors!
Jasmine: My first job really felt like my first taste of adulthood. I remember my mother helping me prep my work wardrobe, and feeling so excited to hop on the subway with all the other 9-5'ers to get to and from work.
Christine: One outstanding memory I have from my first job was when I was carrying a large tray of drinks to a family. I put the tray down on the table and began taking cups off the *table side* first, which caused the rest of the drinks to spill all over the father's suede jacket. I apologized up and down out of embarrassment, and he was (luckily) warm and understanding about the whole thing.
Braze is in the fortunate position to still be hiring this year. If you’re interested in joining us, please take a look at current openings.