Getting started in business? Find out how your first job influences success

Who inspires us to work hard and strive for our goals? Where does a work ethic truly come from? 

I've wondered this throughout the years as the workforce has evolved, the work place demands have changed. We're always on, connected. Boundaries are hard to find, and must be created in industries where the clock never stops.

This can especially pose a challenge to those just getting started. 

I grew up in a household that simply demanded it. From good grades to choosing work over play - and contributing to the costs of my own education, my work ethic was set early on. My mother treated full-time summer babysitting like a business, and a way to keep me busily involved with my community and the well-being of others. And once I could drive, my first real job, was assisting in the office at Ovonic Battery Company. Its founder, the late and brilliant Stanford Ovshinsky developed the first green battery - made of nickel metal hydride - used for electric cars.  

Looking back I was exposed early on to the environmental movement, and developed a strong work ethic thanks to my first job. 

Looking back I was exposed early on to the environmental movement, and developed a strong work ethic thanks to my first job. 

I spent two summers there creating press kits, answering phones, welcoming guests for meetings and generally assisting with office management. Yes, I made the coffee and ran errands. I also learned how a real company operated - and couldn't have been more embraced by the team. To this day, a few other Ovonic alum remain friends.

It was at Ovonic that I gained exposure to all sides of the business world - moving swiftly between Shipping and Receiving, the front office desk and copier,  the engineering room and the President's office. I learned to the importance of being on time, completing projects on deadline and exceeding expectations. I knew I was lucky to have this opportunity, rather than entitled to it. I learned to earn a spot on the team, how navigate difficult situations and most importantly that enjoying your work is the only real way to do good work.

Real Simple recently reminded me of this when the magazine uncovered advice from 9 successful people, asking what they each took away from their first jobs. From President Barack Obama to fashion mogul Rachel Zoe, the answers ring true.  

Perhaps TV host Suze Orman said it best:

You do not know what door is going to open for you. Your job—and actually your only job—is to walk through every one of those doors with the intention to always give it your all, to always give it your best, and to always exceed everyone’s expectations.
— Suze Orman


Who inspired your work ethic? And how might your earlier experiences have shaped the way you work today?

Stephanie Angelyn Casola founded Prologue as a writer, social media and PR professional with more than two decades of experience in media. She's addicted to wi-fi and minimalist design, holds high expectations for coffee, craft beer and pizza, and grew up an avid fan of scary movies. Recently dubbed the "Queen Bee of hustle, media relations and coolness" when she's not working, she's probably ducking into a movie, rock show or museum (so she'll text you after). Email her at