Shelleylyn Brandler goes from hot dog stand cashier to catering queen and has advice for today’s teens seeking jobs. Brandler is the CEO and founder of TaDa Catering, a multi-million dollar empire feeding today’s music super stars on tour such as Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and many more. In an exclusive Q&A with Renée Ward, Brandler shares her first job story to provide advice to today’s teens seeking their first job.
This is the fourth interview of the “My First Job” series.
Ward: How old were you when you landed your first paying job?
Brandler: I was 13 and had a summer job at the Pomona Fair Grounds in California.
Ward: What work did you do?
Brandler: I worked at a Hot Dog on a Stick stand. I worked the register, worked the deep fryer, and made lemonade. I did whatever they asked me to do.
Ward: How did you learn about this opportunity?
Brandler: This fair was a summer event in my area at the time so that’s how I knew about it and I wanted an opportunity to make my own money.
Ward: What qualities did you bring to the job at that time? That is, why do you think you “earned” the job?
Brandler: I shared that I had read something from a Zen book when I was 13 that said whatever you do, be present and do the best you can do. Even if it’s sweeping the floor, be the best at sweeping the floor. So I took that quality of striving to be the best and said I would apply it to any task given to me. From that early age, I had an urge to do well.
Ward: Did you have a “mentor”? If so, how did that help you?
Brandler: No, not at that time but in my later teens my neighborhood friend Kevin Lyman, the founder of “The Warped Tour” became my mentor. He brought me on as his assistant when he started the tour and when I told him I could do a better job at catering for the whole tour. He gave me everything I needed to succeed.
Sometimes it takes someone giving you a break but when that happens you better be prepared to take it. Those opportunities might happen several times in a lifetime but the trick is to be prepared when they happen.
Ward: Did anything go wrong at the Hot Dog on a Stick stand? If so, how did you overcome the challenges?
Brandler: I felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I remember a mistake I made that still resonates with me today.
A customer made a purchase. I gave the customer change for a $10 bill and the customer insisted they gave me a $20 bill. I took the customer’s word for it but at the end of the day, I came up $10 short on my register. From that day on, I left the bills on top of the register until I gave the customer back their money and made sure they had the correct change for the amount given. What made me succeed was learning the lesson and not making the same mistake again. It was a learning curve.
Ward: What did you learn from this job that has prepared you for what you are doing now?
Brandler: Hard work, passion for excellence and the determination to learn and grow are the essential lessons I learned.
I also found that it helps greatly when you find ways to give back. Giving back always makes your road to success worth it.
We work with a lot of charities including, Music Cares and Music Saves Lives, which has a presence on the Van's Warped Tour.
We have a relationship with We Are the Kids and our own @tadanews jointly tweet out volunteer opportunities. This gives us a chance to mentor young people and give them a great learning experience, even if it’s only for a few hours a day.
Ward: What advice do you have for teens and young adults today seeking their first jobs?
Brandler: Attitude is everything. You need a positive attitude and willingness to learn.
Find your strengths and admit your weakness so you can learn and move upward each time you start a job. It’s all about having a good attitude, working hard and taking responsibility for yourself when you are wrong. Also, don't dwell on failure. Learn from mistakes and move on. It’s all about making this a better world for yourself and everyone around you.
Additional tips for teens as a result of this interview:
There may be a Hot Dog on a Stick near you that has openings today you can fill.
If you live near the Pomona Fairplex in California, check out their summer openings too.
Not sure what you want to do or what kind of job to pursue? Take a look at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) career clusters and take a Career Clusters Interest Survey. This may help give you focus and direction in your job hunting. The Career Clusters Interest Survey
For more resources visit—Teens4Hire.org