Updated November 27, 2013

Infographic: Minimum Wage Statistics

The Bright Side (Really!) of Minimum Wage Jobs

So, you braved the hordes of people looking for work, scraped together passable references, and maybe passed a drug test. Congratulations, you got yourself a minimum wage job!

No, seriously, congratulations. Minimum wage isn’t much, but the value in landing a low-paying job goes way beyond your paycheck.

(Click Image to Enlarge)
Infographic: Minimum Wage
Infographic: Minimum Wage © CreditDonkey

A minimum-wage job can be a necessity for students and others just starting out in their career, and there are other positive aspects as well. Here are some things you can be thankful for about your new employment:

Work experience. You can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job, right? Well, a minimum wage job is giving you experience. It may not be in the field you’ll eventually want to make a career of, but even at the simplest fast-food job, you’re gaining skills like communicating with coworkers and working with customers.

Make the most of the opportunities around you. If you’re working up front, can you switch shifts sometimes and run the grill? Even a little kitchen experience could help you when you’re looking for your next job, perhaps at a local sit-down restaurant where the pay is a little better. Are you studying marketing in college? Be on the look-out for opportunities to practice what you’re learning. Make a funny, attention-grabbing sign to encourage customers to try the new special, and you might impress your boss. You’ll also have a good story about taking initiative that you can pull out for your next job interview.

Meeting new people. Minimum-wage jobs bring together people of all ages and from all sorts of backgrounds. One of the key qualities that many successful people possess is an ability to understand others’ perspectives. Business consultant Tony Alessandra has a whole leadership program, The Platinum Rule, devoted to learning how to understand employees’ and customers’ points of view. You can use your job as a way to practice seeing how your co-workers look at the world. And, if you get rich someday, your minimum-wage past will likely make you a better customer and a good tipper when you interact with low-wage workers.

Practice budgeting. If you’re paying your way in the world for the first time — or even if you’re just working toward financial independence while getting some help from mom and dad — it’s time to learn how to keep your spending from outpacing your earnings. Try keeping close track of what you make and how you spend it for a month or two, and think about where you may be able to cut back. (Also check out more tips for budgeting in this CreditDonkey guide to getting out of debt.)

It may be frustrating trying to make do on a small paycheck, but if you can manage it, you’ll be in a much better position when your income rises. People who can live modestly are able to save for the future, and they’re more resilient if they lose a job at some point later in their career. When used wisely, a credit card can help you manage your finances, and many come with perks. Check out the CreditDonkey roundup of student credit cards for the lowdown on how to choose the best card for you.

A minimum wage job won’t make you rich, but if you look beyond the paycheck, you may find it can help you pave the way for more lucrative opportunities down the road.

(Research by Krista; Graphic Design by Marcelo; Graphic Editing by Maria; Additional Writing by Livia; Editing by Sarah)

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