This I Believe: I Believe In Hard Work

Apr 28, 2016

Essayist Kayla Fish
Credit Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

What does five o’clock in the morning look like to you? Does it look like the back of your eyelids as you lie asleep, warm in your bed? For me, it looks like a dark and quiet walk to work.

I believe in the value of hard work.

I’ll always remember the days leading up to my 14th birthday, which, my parents constantly reminded me, was when I could work for the first time. I started a job the next week at the ski resort down the road from my house.

Let’s just say I wasn’t particularly excited about working at first. I was in the boot rental department, where I handed out used ski boots to customers. For eight hours a day, I was in a cloud of rental boot stench—imagine your oldest worn out shoes, then multiply that smell by about 500.

So I had entered the glamorous working world. And you know, to be honest, I grew used to the smell of the boots and the routine of my work schedule.

When I got my first paycheck, my dad asked me if I wanted to frame it. I thought we were maybe making too big a deal about this. Maybe it was just a dad’s attempt to embarrass his teenage daughter. But whatever the reason, we bought a frame and saved my first paycheck.

Eventually I moved up in my little boot department. I offered to work both weekend days, and even on snow days if we had any. Once the ski season ended, I began working at a general store. Then later, a small local restaurant.

To me, work wasn’t dreary. It was the reason I could buy myself a new pair of jeans. It was the reason I could go on mission trips with my church’s youth group. It was the way I met some of my closest friends. And thanks to my oddball jobs, I learned a lot—about food service, about fixing things, about thinking on my feet and about working with people. Hard work has shaped me into the person I am today. 

Hard work doesn’t just come in handy in a job sense, either. I always tried my best in school, and it paid off—I was one of the top three students in my class all through high school. And this was while working one or two jobs at a time.

A lot of people have labeled my generation as the one that “gets everything handed to them.” Well, that may be true. I’ve been handed story assignments, I’ve been handed orders to cook, I’ve been handed tip money for working a table at a restaurant. I’ve been handed smelly, used rental ski boots. But the best thing I was ever handed was the advice from my parents,- “always do your best. Your work ethic will get you far.”

I believe work ethic will get you further in life than your skills—what’s the point of having skills if you don’t do the hard work to use them?

Kayla Fish is one of WPSU-FM’s spring interns this year. She is a junior at Penn State University Park, majoring in Broadcast Communications and Spanish. In addition to being an intern, Fish is also a student manager for Penn State Campus Dining.