What was your first job? 18



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All of us baby boomers have worked long and hard for everything we have. As we approach retirement, it can be a bit of fun to look back at some of our first jobs. Do you remember your first job? How little or how much did you got paid?

For some of us, our first job was such a liberating experience. We finally made some money and had responsibilities. However, for others it was a rough experience that we would rather forget! We worked in tough conditions, long hours and with less holiday.

Largely in the 1960s, women were still expected to be housewives and mothers. They did work of course but the pay for women was generally lower than that of men even if they were doing the same work. Men were expected to be the breadwinner of the family. This time also saw women becoming increasingly present in the workforce. When employed, the average Australian wife worked as a typist or a shop assistant.

The world has changed a lot since then! Did you ever work in a typing pool?


Image Source: Designcareer

Feature Image Source: National Archives of Australia 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. First job was as a checkout operator at shoeys now coles. Such a liberating experience. Cannot remember what i got paid though. None of those self service checkouts back then.

  2. I worked Friday nights and school holidays at Adams Bruce, a small chain of cake and chocolate shops in Auckland. I think I got 17 shillings and 6 pence for the night, and 4 pound for the week. Not sure about that but know I was able to lay-by shoes at an early age!! Worst job there was taking all the chocolates out of the glass display on a Monday morning, washing it out, and then with white cotton gloves on, polishing the chocolates and stacking them back in. There was no restriction on how many chocolates you could eat – but you soon got sick of them I can tell you!!

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  3. My first job was working for David Jones as an alteration hand earning 4 pounds a week that would have been around1958.

  4. I decided to leave school after my Intermediate. My wise mother decided not to set up strong opposition but asked Grace Bros where she was a Department Manager if there was a job for me, not in the office. The worst job they could find was making/selling fairy floss. I might add that in those days when my strong thick hair was plaited the plaits were well below my waist. Despite a head covering, very attractive I might add, the fairy floss was everywhere and by the end of the day I was a sticky mess from head to toe. I went back to school with renewed fervour!

  5. My first job was as a Laboratory Technician with a Pharmaceutical company, and it is where I met my future wife.

  6. My first job was with the Commonwealth Bank in a typing pool earning 5pounds a week. Thing is….if you had the misfortune to become engaged to be married, that was effectively the end of your career as no married women were allowed to be employed.

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  7. My first job was as a shop assistant in Southern Cross , W.A.
    I was 14 and my wage was $3 a week . The year was 1955.

  8. I was a real rebel back in the day! I left school at 15 and got a job in a clothing factory, snipping cotton. Needless to say, I soon discovered that going back to school was a far better option – which I did. Completed forth form, went to technical college and did a secretarial course and went on to a job as a secretary/receptionist. Back then – coming from a family of mechanics – thats what I really wanted to be (a mechanic) and Mum even took me to the local car dealers to ask if they would take me on as an apprentice. I was laughed at and ‘poo pooed’, so I never pursued that vocation……

  9. My first job was at stc (steamships trading co) in port moresby at age 13. I was a typist in the country order Section, taking plantation orders over the phone. I was paid 5 pounds a week and paid my parents 2 pounds 50 pence a week board. I eventually worked for the government when I became 16 and worked in the typing pool. I have worked in Canada, London and many other places. I must say.. I have lived an exceptionally charmed life and enjoyed/enjoy every minute of it. Secretarial skills don’t exist today with he introduction of computers. Thanks for raising this topic, brings up lots of memories that the younger generation would have no idea about 😀😀

  10. At 16 I worked for a lawyer in the city. Always said I’d get plastic surgery on my nose with my first pay (don’t know why – there was nothing wrong with it!) Never got it obviously – you don’t get much for £4.15.6 a week!

  11. My 1st job was as phonogram operator at the Sydney GPO in Martin Please. Hello “Telegrams”.

  12. 10 years old I collected scrap Woden boxes from back of the shops said produce of Australia do not return, broke them apart removed the nails ,chopped them into kindling ,made small bundles, secured with bands made from bicycle tyre, put in my cart I made ,sold them.

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