The Most Important Lesson I Learned From the Worst Job I Ever Had

January 21, 2014 • Career, Life Tips

There’s always a gem in a needle stack.

Here’s the most important lesson I learned from the worst job I ever had.

I’ve had different types of jobs over the years. Here are some:

  1. Babysitter
  2. After School DayCare Assistant
  3. Bowling Alley Attendant
  4. CBS Corporation Intern
  5. Event Photographer
  6. Digital Marketing Agency Intern
  7. Communications and Marketing Intern at Princeton Career Services
  8. Freelance Associate Publicist
  9. Program Analyst
  10. Event Staff for the 2013 Tommy Hilfiger Fall Photoshoot

….but the worst job I ever had was: working in the dishroom of the dining hall during my freshman year of college.


This is why this was the worst job, ever.

  1. I hate washing dishes.
  2. People never clear their trays like they’re supposed to.
  3. You get splahsed with all types of food waste.
  4. You have to clean the kitchen and prep it for the morning dining hall staff.
  5. I hate cleaning industrial sized dishwashers.
  6. You had to dispose of all uneaten food in “pig buckets.” (I’ll let your imagine do the rest…)

… and the list goes on.

BUT here’s a very important lesson I learned:

You can hate your job but love the people you work with.

If you love the people you work with, the job you hate won’t seem so bad. In fact, being around people you like can drown out the rancid smell of dirty dishes and an equally dirty kitchen. The TEAM becomes more important than the job itself. You start looking out for each other. You start bonding. When you leave the worst job ever, you’ll have friends (and skills) that will last forever.

Sure, Rana… I’ll take out the pig bucket. You mop.

Let’s make a system to stack the trays and get the cups through the dishwasher.

Last Tuesday, we were able to do this entire kitchen in 45 mins. Let’s try to set a new record.

These were all real memories from my life in the dishroom. As a team of people who equally hated our job (except for the shift captain who loved being a shift captain and singing at the top of his lungs,) we realized we were all in it together. We were going to make the most of our 2 hour shift. We found the GEM in helping each other solve problems, creating competition, and looking out for each other.

In the end, the most important lesson I learned from the worst job I ever had was that thinking about how much I hated my job made no sense.

Finding things you love about the worst job in the world is a much better use of your time. For me, I found that I liked the problem solving, competition, and family environment. I liked getting to know dining hall staff, eating leftovers, and being part of a team.

Actually, the worst job I ever had wasn’t the worst job I ever had.

Though the “worst job ever” I met this lovely lady named Reyna. For four years, she was like a second mom and always made sure I was okay. I love you Reyna!

Reyna and Rana

Reyna and Rana

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from the worst job you ever had?


I’ll do something special for the person with the most interesting lesson! (I promise.)

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Rana Campbell is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of, a site dedicated to personal branding and helping people learn how to SHINE in their personal and professional lives.

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  • What an insightful post! Saw this on Findspark’s facebook. I like how you talk about subjects people often avoid – the WORST jobs instead of the best jobs. And I agree with you completely . There’s always something good that comes out of that lousy job – and it presents itself in subtle ways. In your case, it was teamwork that you got to experience. For me, I made a valuable connection that made the whole experience worthwhile. I hope to hear more happy stories like yours!


    • Thanks for responding, Alessandra. The gems we can take away from experiences we deem as bad are very worthwhile to our professional development. I’m glad you were able to make that valuable connection. I hope you continue to read my blog for more inspiring tidbits.

  • cassondrawarney

    I liked the positive spin on your story – there is always something we can learn from a difficult experience. For me the most hair-pulling, frustrating work experience was an office job I had at a plumbing/construction company. It was the only time in my life I really clashed with my boss and the work environment was so toxic. Many of my coworkers who worked out in the field had either dropped out of high school or had a GED. They had to turn in daily reports and struggled with basic spelling. But their critical thinking was off the charts. They would constantly have to trouble shoot problems where there was no simple solutions or handbook to give them the answers. They really knew their stuff. It made me realize there is an incredible amount of intelligent people in this world and many of them do not have degrees or wear suits to work. They have jobs where they are often not recognized or acknowledged and they really do help make our world safer.

    • Loved that you shared this experience, Cassondra. It’s amazing what we can realize about others when we take the time to truly understand a situation!