This summer, we’re kicking it old school. With folks staying home and finding creative ways to keep themselves busy, we took the opportunity to ask Braze employees around the globe about their very first jobs—whether it was taking odd jobs around town or baking in the sun as a lifeguard, we all remember that first foray into the workforce.
In the second part of this series, we’re sitting down with members of the Braze team to discuss their first summer jobs and how their experiences and lessons learned then still serve them today. This week we spoke with Yasmin Dick, Customer Success Manager (CSM), Tola Lakavivat, Director, Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), and Zach McCormick, Manager, Engineering. Let’s get into it!
What was your first summer job?
Yasmin: I worked behind the till in a local village pharmacy, as a waitress (and bar staff) at a local restaurant that also hosted larger events such as weddings/birthdays, a pub during summers where I was definitely the only person who wasn't a regular and known face, and the college bar during term time at university and then returning to the restaurant during holidays. I also pulled babysitting shifts for family friends and worked for my dad's company whenever they needed someone to do random odd jobs during school holidays.
Tola: The first job I took was to be a city park cleaner in Uppsala, Sweden.
Zach: I was a lifeguard at a neighborhood pool a couple miles away from my house. We'd work 10 hour shifts, 4 days a week and were responsible for the people in and around the pool and maintenance tasks. It was a pretty big neighborhood full of families, so it was pretty hectic all of the time.
How old were you when you began your first summer job?
Yasmin: I started working as soon as I got a National Insurance number at the age of 16, which is the earliest you can legally get on to a payroll in the UK.
Tola: 14 years old.
Zach: 16 years old.
What skills did your first summer job teach you?
Yasmin: In some of my part time jobs, there were huge elements which were frankly dull and thoroughly unpleasant—the only thing that can get you through those times are your colleagues. This is also true of the fun times and silly moments; my memories are of the people I met, not the hours spent polishing silver or stacking shelves.
Tola: I learned that good relationships with your coworkers are vital, especially for less than exciting job assignments. They make getting the job done that much easier.
Zach: I've always been fascinated with machinery (my uncle was an inventor, dad worked in a factory), and I got to learn first-hand how all of the equipment worked at a commercial pool. It was cool to learn about the relationships between various chemicals and their effects on pressure/flow in the system.
What are 2-3 skills you learned at your first summer job that help you today in your current role at Braze?
Yasmin: There is always a way to relate to other people, find it fast, and invest in it because, at the end of the day, most of our professional roles still boil down to the simple premise that we are working with people. Working with so many different people, from different backgrounds and industries, has helped me more readily adjust to unknown scenarios and break them into more manageable concepts that mirror ones I have experienced before.
Tola: Work ethic and taking pride in a job well done. Getting rid of weeds and cleaning a park is not too different from making sure we have clean financials.
Zach: That job further hardened my resolve to get into something highly technical as an adult. The experience and others like it have contributed to my working mental model of "break everything down into pieces, then figure out how it all fits together" that guides me every day.
What is one piece of advice you would tell your younger self starting out your career?
Yasmin: Relationships are at the heart of every interaction, I think it's easy when you set off on your “career” to forget this and get caught up in the qualifications or experience required. If you're smart and willing to work hard, then the only thing that will really hold you back is whether you can relate to others and they can relate to you! Don't underestimate how memorable the moments are where you get to demonstrate that you're a friendly, decent human being. Yes, you can be remembered for getting a task done really, REALLY well to a super-high standard, but you'll probably be remembered even more for getting a task done really well and bringing everyone along for the ride with you while under pressure (or giving everyone a hard time about it).
Tola: Saving money is crucial, but spending money on what you believe is worthwhile can be just as important.
Zach: You should really enjoy that summer job and get as much sun as you can—it's way harder to do software engineering outside!
What is one fun or outstanding memory you have from your first summer job?
Yasmin: At one wedding, the father of the bride accidentally announced her pregnancy in his speech after a few too many glasses to steady the nerves. It transpired that it was a secret from the more conservative members of the family, although everyone seemed to continue celebrating, so no harm done?!
Tola: There were a couple instances when we had to clean weeds of trees by a busy road in the pouring rain. It wasn't fun in the moment, but when we were done we were proud to have gotten through it. Small victories!
Zach: On days with bad weather, we'd still need to go there to do regular cleaning tasks, but no one was allowed in the pool. I'd always bring a book, set up a reclining chair under an overhang, and get a few hundred pages in while getting paid. I've never looked forward to rainy days more than then!
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.