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Why Working as a Blue-Collar Worker for a While Is a Good Idea

The perks you get out of being a blue-collar worker before going into white-collar jobs.

As a 20-year-old student, you'd do anything to make some desperately needed money. I've worked summer jobs as a warehouseman for the past 4 years and I've noticed that there are quite some perks to being a blue-collar worker with low pay for a while when you're actually planning on becoming a manager in a big company later on in life. 

Now, I would like to say that this observation is taking out of the point of view where a young person in our society is starting to build up their career. What I'm not saying is that if you're 40 years old and you've built up a steady career, you should go back to doing manual labor for a lower wage just for "the experience." What I'm also not saying is that every blue-collar worker should go into white-collar jobs after a couple of years. This post is focused on management trainees and younger people who aspire to become a manager one day. I hope you learn something out of these 5 perks I wrote down.

You understand what manual labor is.

As a boss and/or a manager, it's sometimes hard to imagine what manual labor is like if you're used to sitting in an office all day. You've probably seen it before, but you've never been in that position where you had to do the work yourself. Having done it yourself creates an appreciation for these workers and you will be less likely to neglect them, which happens very often in big companies. 

You create empathy.

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous perk. If blue-collar workers know you've done similar work before, they will automatically trust you more and see you as an ally, rather than an enemy. You will be more likely to recognise their work even if your department doesn't have much to do with these blue-collar workers. It does make a huge difference and it does create empathy.

You learn what real team work is.

What I learn at school is mostly related to project management etc. We focus a lot on group projects because that's very important if we ever want to build a solid career. What they don't teach you though, is how to *actually* work as a team. Usually, the work is just divided and everyone does their part, when at the end everything is brought together and that's the finished product. When you perform manual labor, you learn how to actually help each other out where needed and you immediately see when someone needs help even if they don't ask for it. You don't automatically divide the work, your team makes sure the job gets done as a TEAM. Not as individuals who put together their work, and that improves your outcomes significantly. 

You find the most efficient way of working.

The great thing about manual labor is that you actually see what you're doing and you can see the progress that you're making. This is not the case for white-collar workers as they are often working on intangible things. Because you see how the progress is coming along as a blue-collar worker, you learn how to connect the dots faster, create patterns, and solve problems quicker. Later on, when you've done this multiple times, your brain automatically starts applying that method to the intangible work as well which makes you work in a more efficient way and which makes you see a bigger overview of the work you're doing.

You don't become lazy.

What I've noticed as a warehouseman is that often, when I have to count how many items are in a certain amount of boxes, I'm struggling. Even though I get plenty of maths and accounting at school, I became too lazy to actually count because I always have access to a calculator. That's one thing that blue-collar workers don't suffer from as much. They don't always have calculators with them, so if they have 27 boxes with 6 items in each box, they'll be able to tell me how many items there are in less than 2 seconds. I, on the other hand, would have to start counting in my head and maybe, just maybe, within 10 seconds you'd have an answer. And this doesn't only apply to counting, it also applies to other things. You can't build a house and start working on the roof first because that's the "easier" part. You have to start from the bottom up, and that's a great lesson for (future) managers as well. Start with whatever you got, don't automatically look for the easy stuff so you can be your lazy self. 

I hope that this broadened your views on certain jobs and whether they're good for on your CV or not. Of course, it's always better to do a summer job related to the work you want to do in the future but if you want to be a logistics manager and you're currently working as a warehouseman, you're still learning important stuff about that future job, trust me. And luckily for you, it's like that with most blue-collar jobs. Good luck! 


I'm a 22-year-old student currently based in Belgium. I mostly write about travel hacks. If you like what you read, consider giving a small tip to fund my travels so I can keep giving you the travel hacks. ;)

Instagram: @evelienagram

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