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3 Lessons From Working Low-Paying Jobs

by Amelia Evans

You’re Easily Disposable

When you work a low-paying job you learn pretty quickly that you’re a dime a dozen, so that means you’re easily disposable and replaceable. There was an attitude of “deal with it or we will hire someone else.”  You often get treated like dirt and no one really cares. I also learned that *some* of the customers that come into these places are rude to low-paying workers, even when you didn’t do anything to them!

They just like to make you feel badly about your lot in life, even if this lot in life is a temporary place for you. You can really tell a lot about a person by the way they treat low-paid workers. People who look down on low-paying workers should be happy that there are people answering their phones, cleaning up after them, feeding them, and doing anything that makes their life generally easier. 

When you work a job that pretty much anyone can do then you’re not valued very much in companies. It’s basically supply and demand; when too much of anything is easily available then it’s not valued as much. I quickly realized I needed to learn specific skills for a company to value what I could bring to the table. This is one of the reasons that drove me to go to college and declare a business major. 

There are Usually No Benefits

At most low-paying jobs there are usually no benefits. No health/dental/vision insurance, no retirement plan, no paid time off, etc. If you get sick that’s just too bad. There’s not a lot of compassion at low-paying jobs. I had an assistant manager who was annoyed because I had to take a few days off when I caught the flu, and it was obvious that I was as sick as a dog.

When people with good jobs get sick, they can let their manager know, take paid time off and go to the doctor and get medicine. I couldn’t do that. I have heard stories of people who have been fired immediately just because they ended up getting the flu and couldn’t come in.  

It’s Hard to Get Ahead

It is so hard to get ahead when you’re working a low-paying job. $10,000-35,000 dollars may seem like a lot of money when you’re a kid but when you join the working world, you realize that life is expensive and that kind of money doesn’t go very far.

Every penny I made went toward gas in my car, car insurance, groceries, utilities and rent. I couldn’t even go to Chili’s with my best friends. It was just awful. My friends sometimes had a hard time believing I couldn’t spare $10-20 to go out with them. 

There are a lot of people who spend 10-20 years working low-paying jobs just because it’s impossible to save and get ahead on a paltry salary. There are many people who spend their entire lives working low-wage jobs. That’s just the honest truth. I realized I needed to get an education that was valuable to companies.

Low-paying jobs take an emotional toll on you. I was tired of being broke and struggling all the time, so I enrolled in college as a business major. In a sense I don’t regret working low-paying jobs, I learned that these jobs may be easy skill-wise, but they’re difficult in other ways.

I’m also super-nice to workers now whenever I go into a business. I have been mistreated by *some* customers and it sucks so much, so I never want to be that jerk. I honestly think that everyone should work a low-paying job for at least 1 week of their life. Working low-paying jobs made me a better person and I learned a lot from them.

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