My First Job: What I Learned Making Pizzas

Apr 9, 2008 • Paul Singh

My first job was at a Papa John’s Pizza in northern Virginia. Not only was making pizzas the only employment available to me, it was my favorite food at the time. What better way to make my first few paychecks?

**It’s All About the Process
**On my first day, each new employee would get a manual – a freakin’ MANUAL. This thing contained exact measurements, diagrams, pictures and clear instructions on how to wear your uniform, talk to customers, make the pizza, clean the oven and anything else you can think of. Damn, these guys were killing my individuality – I was about to become Papa John himself.

I quickly ramped up and was able to make pizzas, dispatch drivers and take orders within two weeks. I learned how to have a little fun and make some tips off of customers. I could smell the sauce and tell if it was made properly – I was that good.

**Fair Pay? Eat Your Weight in Pizza
**Did I mention I was paid nearly minimum wage? If I recall it was about $7.00 an hour. I could expect to make good money if I was willing to spend all my non-studying hours there at the store. Don’t get me wrong, it was good money for my first job but definitely an eye-opener.

The food was free – all we could eat.

**Quitters Sometimes Win
**By the end of the summer, I had decided to retire from pizza-making and move on to something else. It was time to move on to non-commission sales at Best Buy. The work was less time consuming and I got paid a little more. I now began learning how to talk to customers and had a tiny bit of free time to plan my next ventures.

What did I learn during my pizza-making days?

  • If you can package what you do into a process, you can teach it to others.
  • The guy who made the process gets paid a lot while the people performing the process got paid shit.
  • It’s important to be looking for the next thing – no job is forever and once you’ve learned everything at your current place, it’s time to move on.

What lessons did you learn in your early jobs?