Minimum Wage Jobs (Part 1 of 3)

20 03 2011

Note:  This post on minimum wage jobs ended up being a pretty long piece, so I divided it into three pieces that will consecutively go up over the next few days.  Also, a disclaimer…  Obviously I am not the end-all, be-all authority on this topic and only have limited insight into the culture and norms of minimum wage jobs.  The following three posts reflect only my experience in this area and what I gathered from it.

During December and January, I had the fun, interesting and occasionally unpleasant experience of working my first hourly minimum wage job (MWJ).  Growing up, I worked plenty of jobs that paid a pittance: babysitting, front desk staff, camp counselor and so forth.  But these were all part-time, informal arrangements that didn’t begin to prepare me for the hourly minimum wage culture that I experienced this past winter.

Obviously MWJs is a very large category that includes many types of employment.  Most of my comments below tie into my experience working as a coach at a local gymnastics facility.

There are definitely pros to working in MWJ positions.  First, it’s nice to have a clear schedule that outlines when you are expected to work and what your job responsibilities specifically are.  There are no phone calls from the boss on the weekend and no pressure to take your work home with you at night. Your time is valued and you are paid for each hour worked.

Second, the work environment is usually more relaxed.  When you’re not making the big bucks, there have to be other draws to employment and fun people usually do the trick.  Business suits aren’t required and – if there is anything more than a suggested dress code – your employer is required to provide a uniform or purchase the clothing for you.

Third, there is OVERTIME!  Folks in consulting, this means that when you work more than eight hours a day, you receive time and a half for your pay.  (Read that last sentence another time to let it sink in.)  Parenthetically, there are often formal or informal perks to MWJs.  For example, working at the gymnastics facility gave me access to free tumbling classes, which was a HUGE draw that outweighed a lot of the frustrations that later emerged.  Finally, any job is hard to come by these days so employment is employment and MWJs are the only type of employment that many people can land.

Stay tuned for tomorrow morning’s post that tempers this one with a slightly larger list of cons…

posted by ayo

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3 responses

20 03 2011
Michael

I can’t believe someone of your age and education has had such little exposure to work that pays overtime. It really speaks to how labor has lost so much. Everyone must fight for time and a half over 8 hours. Otherwise we’ll be back to the days of the Triangle Factory Fire in no time.

28 03 2011
amybetho

Michael, what is your background in this area? Have you worked many jobs that paid overtime? Have you personally seen changes in labor rights? Curious to hear more.

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