Remembering My First Job, By Dawn Johnson

Many individuals have fond memories of their very first jobs, usually a position at an ice cream store, a mechanic’s shop, or helping out with the family business. My first job was working at the Central Kansas Hatchery, a turkey and chicken hatchery and processing plant, during my summer vacations. The work was smelly, uncomfortable, and often disturbing, as many of the tasks required cleaning up feces or lopping off the toes of newly hatched birds to prevent them from scratching each other.

However, there was something satisfying about getting down to business and working without complaint–as the full-time adult employees had been doing for years. My favorite assignment was “wash day”, which directly followed hatch day, and required cleaning up boxes that had contained the baby chicks using a large industrial machine. What I liked most about wash days was the water fights between co-workers, and the fact that the manager didn’t scold us for having a little fun. She must have realized we needed something to break up the monotony of sending box after box through the conveyor belt!

Dawn Johnson, a former financial and insurance executive at USAA, now runs her own consulting company in San Antonio, Texas.