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Our first jobs: how we woke up and smelt the coffee like Brooklyn Beckham

As the Beckhams’ boy toils as a barista to learn the value of money, we find out how others began their working life.

By Kerry McKittrick

He might be the offspring of arguably two of the most famous people in the world. He might also stand to inherit a slice of his parents' multi-million pound fortune. But that doesn't mean that Brooklyn Beckham is not afraid to get his hands dirty.

The 15-year-old has reportedly taken some shifts in a west London coffee shop, earning the princely sum of £2.68 an hour. As he's underage there is a limit as to how much time he can spend working — no more than seven hours on a Saturday. Plus, he must be given an hour-long break after four hours hard graft.

Many could argue that this is an unusual move given the teenager made his modelling debut in March of this year, making the front cover of Man About Town on his very first job. But others have praised his attitude and that of his parents, as he learns the value of money by earning his own pay packet.

As the teenage Brooklyn celebrates his rite-of-passage, we asked some local personalities to tell us about their memories of their first jobs.


Emma-Louise Johnston (36) is a presenter and broadcaster. She lives in Belfast with her husband Jonathan Crawford and their children, Emily (3) and JJ (10 months). She says:

"I had a paper round when I was 13. I think I had to get up at about 5.30am to go and get the papers – it was great practice for GMTV. After a while they started dropping the papers at the door of my house and that felt like pure luxury. I started off on the bike but it actually became too much hassle.

I gained a very healthy respect for dogs doing that job. They could come round the side of the house to chase me or they would jump at my hands when I was putting the newspaper through the letterbox.

I then moved on to waitressing at Belfast Castle when I was about 15 – they had a posh restaurant on the first floor. They had all these really experienced waitresses but I couldn't carry lots of plates and do the things they did. I made up for my lack of skill with what I like to think was charm! I think I did that for a year and it did teach me a bit about pressure.

I think it's so important for young people to get a job. It's important to learn the value of money but you need to learn about the workplace too. If you have a boss who gives you rubbish then you need to learn how to deal with it. Learning about politics at work is very valuable."


Alison Clarke owns and runs ACA model agency in Belfast. A former Miss Northern Ireland she is married to international golfer Darren Clarke and has two grown-up sons. She says:

"In the summers of my last two years at school I would go to the Isle of Man to work as a waitress. It was a social thing – some of my friends went out first and I ended up following them. You had to write to all the hotels and restaurants to ask for a job. I was a waitress in a B&B called Ferndale – the job included room and board and I shared a little bedroom with another girl from Liverpool called Perry in the staff quarters. We served the breakfast and dinner and were free in between.

It was brilliant, in the good weather I remember sunbathing. It was a family-run hotel and my parents would ring the hotel and if I wasn't there they would talk to the owner or his wife.

I earned £17 a week, which was just pocket money, and in the second year I got £19.

That second year I also got a job working in the coffee shop of the Empress Hotel next door just to earn a little more money. At the end of both seasons I had saved enough money to buy a new outfit.

I think young people should learn the value of money early and not have everything handed to them.

I think it's lovely that Brooklyn Beckham has a job because he'll learn how to interact with people.

Most teenagers just interact with their peers but when you go into employment you need to be careful of how you speak.

My sons both had jobs when they were younger although they did find them difficult to manage as they both played rugby and had a lot of training."


Dan Gordon (49) is an actor and playwright and lives in Belfast with his wife Kathy and their daughters Sarah (24), Hannah (21) and Martha (15). He says:

"I worked in the dispense bar at Clanbrassil House at Cultra. It was owned by Sir Jack Swinson, who was head of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. My mum was a waitress in the restaurant and I got the job when I was only 15. It wasn't a proper bar, just a wee hatch and I hated it when they got a late licence for weddings as you'd be up late clearing up afterwards.

I got the bus down and the manager would give me a lift home afterwards – I earned £3.50 a night. I did that for quite a long time and lots of others did it too, like the comedian Michael Smilie and another guy who ended up as a QC.

Getting a job gives you a sense of money and a little independence with your own income. If you've earned it you're not so quick to spend it again.

My daughters are really good at getting jobs.

The middle one worked at Elliot's fancy dress hire, in Belfast, for a while and then she moved on to a restaurant in Carrick.

She had to learn the entire menu – about six pages – in an afternoon. I didn't understand why she couldn't do the same with her French!"


Hickey (31), otherwise known as DJ Hix, lives in Belfast with his wife Olivia and they are expecting their first child. He says:

"When I was younger I played in a few bands around Belfast. I didn't have a summer job in a shop or restaurant the way many young people would have, but by gigging we earned a bit of pocket money.

When I went to university I had my first regular jobs. I started off by working in the cloakroom in the students' union.

It was great fun at 1.30am when a drunk guy without a ticket is trying to get his denim jacket back and you have 300 of them behind you.

Then I got a sales job at H Samuel in Castle Court. I can't remember how I got it because I didn't have any sales experience.

I was only there for three or four months until I got a job at HMV, which was much more up my street as I loved music, and still do.

About five days after I started there I asked if I could work in the vinyl section at the back as it was what I was into and I'd already started doing a bit of DJing.

They soon realised I was good at it as I knew where everything was and was able to help most people out.

I actually met a lot of my DJ friends doing that job as they came in to buy their first records. I can't remember what I earned but it was certainly minimum wage at least.

I was lucky when I was young because I was able to earn money doing what I really loved; first in bands and then DJing and working in a record shop.

I think the principle of making young people earn their own money and respect their own money is crucial and I'll expect my kids to do the same thing. My parents instilled that in me when I was young – it doesn't matter what your financial background is."


Tim McGarry (50) is an actor and comedian. He lives in Belfast with his wife Caroline and their children, Joseph (17) and Michael (12). He says:

"My first job was a holiday relief porter in the Mater Hospital. I was 16 and my dad got it for me and in those days you had to join the union when you got the job. The first day I arrived we were on strike so I was on the picket line and by 11.30am I was in McElhatton's bar. I learned to smoke, swear and play nine-card brag. It was summer relief and I did it for a couple of years. It also taught me about getting up in the morning and earning money. You look around and see what kind of jobs you can do and realise that you should stay at school and get some good qualifications."


Dick Strawbridge (54) is a TV presenter best known for Scrapheap Challenge and Belfast: Mud, Sweat and 400 Years. He was born in Burma, raised in Bangor and now lives in Southend with his partner Angela, who is expecting their second child. He is also father to James (29) Charlotte (27) and Arthur (1). He says:

"The first job I ever had was at United Carriers, at an industrial estate in Antrim. It was a summer job when I was about 15 or 16 before I went off to college and I got it because I wanted to save up for a moped.

The job was to empty 40ft containers. All these men go into the container with trolleys and unload the packages into different geographical piles. The packages are then sent off to the different parts of the country. I learned the geography of Northern Ireland really quickly because every time you unloaded a package you had to know where it was going to. I also learned the street names of Belfast too because there were different delivery runs to different parts of Belfast.

Myself and one other student just did it for the summer and all the old hands who had been there for years were happy enough to let us work away. It was a good workout and you got lots of muscles from it – and I got my moped at the end of the summer.

Before I got that job I would earn my pocket money by taking my dad's lawnmower and cutting the grass in the local area.

The ability to make your own money is so important. It's not until you have your own money that you've earned in your pocket that you can really respect yourself. Never mind young people who do it, I think anyone who has a job in later life has that respect for themselves and that carries on throughout your life."


U105 Breakfast Show DJ Maurice Jay (46) lives in Holywood. He has two sons, Evan (7) and Riley (5). He says:

"My very first job was a paper round – it was actually after school because I was delivering the Belfast Telegraph. I think I got paid about £2.65 a week, never mind an hour like Brooklyn is getting!

My first paid job after that was actually DJing. A friend of my dad's was a DJ and he let me do a half hour set at the golf club when I was about 16. I got a whole tenner for it and I was hooked from then on. I started doing a regular gig as a DJ at the Ice Bowl in Dundonald each week. It was crazy – there were 1,700 people in there each Saturday night.

I had one more proper job when I was about 19 as a salesman for car parts; it was in Portadown and I got a car with it. I knew nothing about cars or car parts and I lasted about four weeks – I had to start in Portadown at 7.30am, which meant leaving Holywood at 6.30am."

How stars survived before big-time

Before they were famous, how some A-listers earned their first pay packets ...

  •  Michelle Pfeiffer — the Hollywood actress and star of films such as Dangerous Liaisons and Batman Returns earned a few bucks as a cashier at a grocery store in California in the 1970s
  • Harrison Ford — the actor enjoyed a rather different career as a carpenter before the lure of acting brought him to the world’s attention in films such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones
  • Kanye West — the rapper used to work at a GAP store, even mentioning it in a song off his album, The College Dropout
  • Sean Connery — before he was Bond, the Scottish movie icon had a milk round in his native Edinburgh
  • Christopher Walken — the Deer Hunter star’s eccentric credentials were established at an early stage as he once worked as part of a lion taming act at a circus
  • Jennifer Aniston — the Friends star and former Mrs Brad Pitt earned her pocket money cleaning out toilets, as she told one magazine interviewer, followed by a stint as a bike courier in New York, before she hit the big time

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