How I Got My First Job
When you say first job, it appears that most people had gotten it at 14 and were working as a busboy or newspaper delivery person among other such things. At least this is what a brief read of Quora tells me. Mine wasn’t that bad. I got my first job in September of 2006. Back then, I didn’t even have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn was around though. It was started in 2003. I just wasn’t aware of it. I did not have a Facebook account either with most of my friends getting one towards the beginning of 2007.
My first job was at HSBC with the position being Customer Service Executive. I handled reconciliation referrals. It was basically reconciling accounts of customers based in the United Kingdom. Now I had applied to a few different places. But I can’t remember the names. There was Alethea International School where they called me for an interview for a vacant teacher position. I remember my father not being too enthused about it as an experience at Alethea was considered somehow beneath me for a first job.
The salary was 12,600 LKR. At the time, that was equivalent to just over a hundred dollars. It would be difficult to find jobs that pay a hundred dollars as a starting salary in the market today. This is some 14 years later. I made a few mistakes. We’ll get to those later. I wish to describe how I got my foot in the door.
My first job came about because of a staffing agency. It was called Ma Foi jobs. There were a few staffing agencies that recruited for HSBC. I actually worked with two of them. Something that cost me the opportunity as I found out later. I can’t quite remember the details but two applications with my name reached HSBC and this was brought up during the interview process. In the end, I got hired. But it did cause a hiccup along the way. The important thing is to tell the truth during the interview process as integrity is a big thing.
Little to no savings
I finished high school at The British School in Colombo in June of 2006. After a month’s holiday, it became evident that I needed to find a job. I had barely a thousand rupees in savings and my parents were talking about how I should bring in resources instead of expending them. Most of us Sri Lankans and Indians get our first jobs when we become adults. This differs from the Western world where kinds work from the age of 14. I later read about famous people that worked their way through high school and then were able to fund college on their own.
So anyway, we as a family (my father and I) looked through job vacancies on the Sunday Observer. There was an ad that showed that HSBC needed some school leavers so I went ahead and applied by sending my CV through email. After being called for the interview, I was informed that I should not mention my future plans of studies in the United States for university. So I decided to heed that advice.
Then they put me through some tests on the computer. I wish I could remember exactly what they were, but my memory fails me. Nevertheless, it was nothing too difficult as I passed with flying colors. Then came the interviews. During the final interview I demonstrated my advanced knowledge and comfort level of English by preparing in advance.
A Note on Salary
The interviewer told me that the salary can be discussed with human resources. But the HR interview never came and I was left with the salary designated for the position by the bank.
I did mention that I made a few mistakes. Let’s get to those. One was that I had to leave early because I wished to sit for the SAT tests that were required by certain universities in the US for admission. Looking back, I guess I could have stayed from 6 months to a year at my first job. I took the SAT tests twice over two years and the scores I got were pretty much the same regardless of the profession. The second mistake was not saving my salary and treating my parents. Also, no money was invested.
Conclusion: Perspective gained
One thing that springs to mind was the considerable sum of money my father spent on office clothing for me. It came to about 10,000 LKR at the time. I thought this was ridiculous. It has taken me the longest time to realize that this is how the world of work is.
I wrote this up because some people requested me to go through how I landed my first job. I hope you found it enlightening and were able to benefit from the information.