It can be difficult to find a job as a teenager. These days, many jobs are in high demand. Also, it might be hard to know what businesses will hire teens or younger teens. Today I’m sharing the story of my first job, where I worked and what I did as a teenager for work.
My first job started at a grocery store. When I started working the company would hire teens as young as age 14 (with restricted hours). Most teens would hire in at age 15 or age 16, however. Working at the supermarket was a wonderful first job, here’s why.
My First Job Story
My grocery store job was at The Kroger Company. I served in a variety of roles, but the one I enjoyed most was working as a floral clerk. I initially started working for The Kroger Company as what was called “hired help” when my aunt was in charge of company catering.
I helped set up, serve and tear down at events. If you are familiar with Toledo, Ohio, one of the larger events I helped cater was the evening reception at the Crosby Festival of the Arts at the Toledo Botanical Garden.
I then moved into working as hired help in the floral shop of one of the Kroger stores, helping wrap flowers, stock new product and clean the department during its busiest times including Valentine’s Day and Sweetest Day.
I enjoyed this type of work as it aligned perfectly with my creative self. I would work weekends, evenings or holidays that were most busy in the department. Other busy times included Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day.
First Jobs for Teens
After working seasonally and as needed, I officially joined the company as a part-time bagger/carry-out at the end of my junior year. I worked that summer bagging groceries for customers, pushing carts and returning the carts to the cart corral (sometimes pushing 10 carts at a time, what a workout!).
In this role I would also do whatever cleanup had to be done – including cleaning the restrooms and picking up food spills. Most of the bagger/carry-out workers were teenagers but some adults worked this job. It was the perfect entry-level job for a teen.
There were also opportunities to socialize a bit and get to know other teens who attended schools outside of my own. We would often chat while bagging groceries or chat with the cashiers. Working evenings could be long and slow so this was a great reprieve.
What is a Floral Clerk?
In the fall as I was starting my senior year of high school there was an opening for part-time help in the floral shop and I was hired. I spent just over two years working there. My official title was floral clerk.
My manager was trained in the floral industry and this was her career, so I learned from someone who really knew what she was doing! I made bud vase arrangements, table centerpieces, corsages and boutonnieres, and even put together holiday wreaths.
It was really cool to pick up real life skills at this job. I still use many of these skills now as a gardener.
This is a photo from my high school yearbook. There was a section about where teens in our class were working. During one shift a yearbook photographer came by my workplace and took my photo.
Here’s the photo above. They asked me about my job too, The caption read: “I like my job, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to lead to a career.” I also worked through a remodel in the store which included the building out of an entirely new floral shop.
With that we received a cash register, so I added cashiering to my repertoire. When I decided after my freshman year of college to move permanently for college and live in a dormitory starting at the beginning of my sophomore year I was fortunate to be able to transfer my job to a different Kroger store.
However, they did not have any openings in floral at that store. Instead I became a cashier and worked for another two years or so. I was able to fill in for the floral department on occasion when they needed extra help for those busy times or when they had someone call off sick or go on vacation.
Working as a Cashier
Cashiering wasn’t my passion but it was an easy job and my pay was soon increased as I had been working with the company for several years now and gained seniority. It also helped that Kroger is a union company so we had great pay and benefits.
My busiest shift was the day before Thanksgiving when I ran the express lane. The express lane has an item limit so each customer usually only has less than 10 or 15 items in their basket. The register counted my customers at about 250 during a 4-hour shift!
Cashiering worked well with my college schedule as I became heavily involved with extracurricular activities. I was able to work 8 p.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. My favorite customer was my then boyfriend (now husband) when he would occasionally show up and come through my lane. It was nice to see a familiar face during those long night shifts!
I made the difficult decision to quit my job at Kroger about six-months before I graduated college. My involvement in student activities had become tremendous. By then I was also receiving a stipend for my work with the campus newspaper so financially I had more of a cushion.
I resigned, but not without fond memories. My first job as a teenager had become my only job and one I kept for more than four years. I resigned fall of my senior year of college.
First Job Teenager
My work in the floral shop impacted my life in other ways. My former floral shop supervisor was the first and only person I asked to make the bouquets for my wedding. I also ordered some lovely Gerbera Daisies through her shop that were used, with bubble bowl vases and glass gems, as centerpieces for our reception tables.
Today as I grow my own garden and landscape there are many flowers I seek to grow that will remind me of that first job. Once my tea roses are established I hope to enjoy more fresh-cut arrangements at home too! I like to grow and cut fresh flowers from my garden and arrange them.
I will keep the arrangements going until a hard frost. Then I usually switch to purchasing flowers at the grocery store throughout the winter. I really appreciate having fresh cut flowers on the table year round.
In addition, after taking on the cashiering role I learned to enjoy running register. That work led me to work as seasonal help in a retail department store a few years ago. There I was able to run register once again!
My First Job
Going back to that quote in the high school yearbook: it’s very true. I enjoy my writing career and I believe it’s the right fit for me, but I still entertain the idea of working in the floral industry again someday.
Even if it’s not within the Kroger Floral Department Jobs, I would entertain working at a florist or another gardening-related job. I think it would be the perfect part-time retirement job.
What was your first job?
*This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.