What I Learned About Workplace Training and Onboarding From My Part-Time Jobs

Raise your hand if you’ve worked jobs of all different flavors. ? 

This was so true for me in high school and college. Over the course of five years, I worked half a dozen part-time jobs and internships, and I loved it because it felt like I was getting paid to learn. These jobs varied in difficulty and time commitment, but they shared one specific similarity: With each one, I learned more about what it looks like to add value to a team, regardless of my role on it.

Two jobs stand out the most: sandwich artist at DiBella’s Subs and talent intern for a benefits consulting firm called FirstPerson. These jobs couldn’t have been more different, and the training couldn’t have been either.

When I compare these two roles, it’s easy to see that I felt the most empowered to succeed at FirstPerson. And in large part, that’s thanks to their efficient and robust workplace training model. Here’s what training looked like at these two jobs and what I learned from both experiences:

Sandwich Artist at DiBella’s Subs

Man, just thinking about this job takes me back to a season of life where I always sort of smelled like freshly baked bread. I guess there are worse things to smell like, right? This was my first official job, and it’s not the first time I’ve written about it on our blog. My experience there was a solid 5 out of 10.It was fine, but I think it could’ve been an 8, 9, or even 10 with better training.

My training was 100% on-the-job. I shadowed a more seasoned employee during a dinner shift once, and then I was on my own. I learned most of what I needed to know in that four-hour shift of shadowing, but I was still left with a plethora of unanswered questions that would arise even three months into the job. 

For example, I didn’t know what to do when we’d already made someone’s sandwich, but they’d forgotten their wallet. I didn’t know what to do to keep a gluten or dairy-free customer safe and comply with our OSHA safety certification because I didn’t have any workplace safety training or access to safety training courses. I didn’t know where the dough for our bi-weekly batch of cookies lived. I didn’t know where we kept extra rags or aprons. I didn’t know how to handle catering deliveries or tips for the day.

In short, there are plenty of workplace training topics I would’ve loved to have answers to in one, searchable place while I was learning how to do the job. I eventually learned the answers to these things, but so much time could’ve been saved with more developed onboarding. 

The key takeaway from my story? Exclusive on-the-job training leaves employees unprepared, which ultimately gyps customers of a great experience. 

Talent Intern at FirstPerson Advisors

I had the opportunity to be an intern at FirstPerson a few years after working at DiBella’s. And let me tell you, the training at FirstPerson felt like a 180° shift from anything I’d ever experienced.

My first two weeks at FirstPerson included eight 30-minute meetings with someone from each team. During that time, they’d  explain what they did and how it related to the overall business objectives. I was assigned a mentor. I learned the tactical, nitty-gritty details of my job and role on the Talent team from lessons in Lessonly. Who knew one year later, I’d work here!

My primary job was to help roll out FirstPerson University. The training and development program was purpose-built so employees could continue growing and challenging themselves with motivational training topics for employees. Examples of training and development programs for employees are everywhere, but great ones are hard to build. Here’s what’s great about how they trained me though—I knew the mission of FirstPerson from the get-go, and had enough context to hit the ground running on this project. I was able to add legitimate value to the team within weeks of being there instead of the months it took at DiBella’s.  

Training Empowers People

Workplace training goes far beyond professional safety certifications or fun training topics; it’s about engaging both new and seasoned employees in training that empowers them to do their best work and contribute. People are remarkable at what they do when they’re first enabled to be remarkable at it. And it’s possible with thoughtful leaders who build intentional training.


Think your team could use Lessonly? We think so, too. 

Building a world-class team takes both learning and practice, and Lessonly helps teams do both. Click here to get a quick look at what we do, or if you’re not sure about us yet, here are 5 things you should know about Lessonly!

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