The year was 1991 when I landed in Australia, the country was in recession. Wherever I went, whomever I met for guidance, they all said: tough luck!! I kept hearing recession, everybody painted a gloomy economic and employment scenario.
I had just turned 17, had no clue what “recession” meant, never heard of it. I somewhat understood the term only after a decade. My parents very kindly supported my college tuition and maintenance expenses but still needed a job to meet the shortfall.
After lot of efforts, I got my first job at a small box factory @ Woolloongabba. I think I was there for about a week, slowly settling in that my colleague of similar age asked to swap shifts. He said no need to tell the manager, he’ll do my shift and I’ll do his when he needed it few days later. And you know what happened :-). So called colleague didn’t show up and when I reported the next day, my manager fired me on the spot. I clearly remember her; a skinny, tall and stern lady named Elizabeth. I pleaded, I presented my case that I wasn’t at fault but to no avail. No second chance!!
I learnt my first lesson: always keep boss/manager in the loop. Lot of learning happened during next few years working at many jobs, living at different places with different people (that were different in every possible way). There was a gulf of difference between India of the eighties and Australia or any other developed country for that matter. The scooter brand was only Bajaj, phone connection took many years, no foreign brands/cars/restaurants..just had Nirula’s , don’t recall Wimpy’s 🙂 either.
There are times (interestingly Covid is also one of those) when a decade happens in a year. The college years in Australia were the same. Too much adventure and learning within a short period. Most of the students that went overseas for an undergrad can relate, especially few decades back.
I have become a firm believer in working during early years, as early as high school or at least during college. I know many Indian/Asian parents don’t encourage it due to studies pressure or have other reservations. Remember it’s not just the odd jobs that kids are goofing off at, they’re learning valuable lessons at an early age. They’re learning all the crucial skills like team work, relationships with peers, juniors, seniors, handling pressure, customers; sales, communication and so many things. Like everything else in life, all this learning and work experience matters, it compounds.
The maturity is much more nowadays, all the more reason for an early start. We should encourage our children to take the responsibility. Of course each kid is different; if they’re entrepreneurial in nature, let them pursue their passions. Let them work on weekends or vacations during college, whatever little they can learn. It all counts in the long run!!