Lessons From The Transition From Big 5

My experience working at Big 5 was a game-changer for me. I had never in my life made so little money for my time. Unless one counts my time working at a summer camp, which shouldn’t be counted. Because (due to the nature of time) I was older than I had ever been, wiser than I had ever been, and more skilled than I had ever been, it felt like a great injustice that I was making so little. But it was during my time at Big 5 that I realized that I had no qualifications. I had worked for a long time at a technical help desk, but I didn’t have any technical certifications such as an A+ or CCNA. I was big into fitness, and relatively knowledgeable in that area, but I wasn’t certified in anything such as a Personal Trainer or EMT. I was an accomplished writer, having had some poetry published internationally and written for several companies, but I had no degree in English or composition or anything. While multi-talented, I was useless on paper.


That was why I began working towards a personal trainer certification. I figured, after completing the certification, I could begin to casually ask around at fitness centers in my area and perhaps find an opportunity to make a little more money doing something I was more passionate about than security guarding or stocking shoe racks. Up to this point I have not used my personal trainer certification for anything other than my own betterment and health, but I’m very glad I got it and will be getting my A+ certification and my associates degree before the end of the year.


On another note, as I was approaching the decision to leave one of my jobs, it was not a no-brainer to choose the security guard job. Yes, my AlliedBarton job paid $2.25/hour more than my Big 5 job, and gave me more hours, which meant my AlliedBarton paycheck was usually more than twice what my Big 5 one was. But I was on very friendly terms with my managers and co-workers at Big 5, and my manager had asked me if I was interested in becoming an assistant manager, and had already put my name forward to a nearby store that had an opening. He said that I should send him my resume and he’d send it up for me.


After weighing my personal situation with the options in front of me, I determined that the security guard job was more appropriate for me. While Big 5 had the potential to be more financially rewarding, it certainly wasn’t at the time, and if it were to be, it would also take more of my time than I would want to give to my job. With school and my company, part time work was more appropriate for me. The important lesson here was: there’s more to deciding which job to take than the hourly wage.


That lesson became clearer and clearer as I worked at AlliedBarton. Because of the down time during my shifts at AlliedBarton where I simply needed to be there, I was able to work on things for my company and personal trainer certification (the semester was over by then, so I wasn’t doing homework). The time I had to work on those things made it so that even though I was often putting in extra hours at AlliedBarton, I was able to use those extra hours for things that I would have been doing anyway.


Another very impactful lesson I learned from my experience at Big 5 was to take the time to do my best at things, and to make an effort to get on the manager’s good side and stay there. Even though I only worked at Big 5 for a short time, I would be willing to (and have) put all of my managers’ names down as references, and they’ve given me glowing recommendations. I consider that a very instrumental part in helping me get to where I am now, and I will continue using it as a tool as I search for future employment. Imagine what a potential employer thinks when they look at a resume and all three of the references there are previous managers who have nothing but good things to say about them

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