Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Brief History of Employment

First of all, I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post. Posting political and/or controversial topics is always a little bit terrifying. In real life, I shy away from confrontation and avoid arguments at all costs. However, when something is really important to me I feel it's my duty to be open about it. I'm glad we could have an informative and respectful conversation, even when we have differing views. My readers are definitely the best ones on the whole Internet!

Moving on! (For now, anyway.) I had hoped to have a recipe to post today but I've been in a major cooking rut and have resorted to pasta, stir fry or veggie burgers almost every night this week. Instead of regaling you with photos of those delicious but boring meals, I thought we could take a walk down memory lane and look back on all the jobs I've worked since the age of 16.

Off topic? Perhaps. But when you spend 40 hours a week at a desk job, it's hard to not think about work. (Trust me, I've tried.) Below is a brief history of my life as a productive member of society.

The Bagel Shop
I worked at a bagel shop on Long Island when I was 15 years old. I was basically a short order cook, bagel slicer, coffee maker and cashier. It was very hectic and I was very bad at it - I broke the coffee maker and sliced open my fingers on a regular basis. Also, I only knew one way to cook eggs so everyone got them scrambled no matter what they ordered. The job lasted approximately three weeks and culminated with the owner of the shop asking if perhaps I would like a job sweeping the floors after hours. I declined, saying that I would rather find a job that I was actually good at.

The Public Library
At the end of the Summer of Bagels, I turned 16 and got a job shelving books at the public library. This was definitely my best job ever - I met great people, read a million books, and had a good time. I even dated one of my co-workers (a fellow page!) AND discovered vegetarianism in the stacks. Pretty awesome. I worked there for two years, until I graduated high school and left Long Island for college.

The Registrar's Office
I was a student assistant in the Registrar's Office for three years while in college. It was an easy job (mostly filing and mailing out transcripts for students). I made my own hours, often showed up hungover, and got to register for classes weeks before registration even started. I never got shut out of anything! And I still get free transcripts to this day.

Borders
While working at the Registrar's Office, I also had a part time job at Borders as a book assistant. Yes, I worked two jobs while going to college full time and STILL graduated with honors! Boo yah. This was a good job, but I don't remember it that well. Oh, college.

The Beach
During college (I had a lot of jobs in college) I went home each summer and lived with my parents. Two of those summers included working at the beach near our home in the permit office. This job was super awesome. Everyone got their permits during the first two weeks of June and then weeks went by where I sat in my office and helped absolutely no one. I started drinking coffee the second summer, spiked with Bailey's of course, and read Anna Karenina. Those two things combined made the slow days go by a lot faster.

Hastings
After college and one final summer at the beach, I moved to Nacogdoches and got a job working in the book section of Hastings. I actually liked this job. If we are all born with one super power, then mine is shelving books. Seriously. I can dismantle and put away a towering cart of books so quickly, it would make your head spin. The only downsides of this job were: drama (so much drama!) and salary. I got paid $5.95 an hour, and that was only because I had a college degree. I worked here for almost two years (and accrued the majority of my credit card debt making up the difference in pay) until I finally found a better job. Good jobs in Nacogdoches are hard to come by and I was very lucky.

The SFA Library
I worked at the library for almost three years, but during that time I had four positions. I started as a library associate in the East Texas Research Center, which was pretty boring. When I graduated with my MLS, I was promoted to Actual Librarian, and I got to work in the Digital Projects department, which I loved! And then I was promoted again, to head of Digital Projects, which was just amazing! Until my department was dissolved and I was moved back to the ETRC, as the university archives librarian. Wah, wah, wah. I didn't like the archives and I didn't like the work I was doing (plus drama! So much drama!) so when I saw another opening across campus, I jumped at it.

Which brings us to today, and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
Today, I am a Research Development Specialist, which means I help faculty find and apply for grants. It's a lot of paperwork but there are some creative aspects to it as well (like reading and editing proposals and making websites). I really like my office-mates and I'm glad for all the new skills I'm learning. Will I work in grants forever? I doubt it. I'm only 28 and retirement is a long way off. Until then, I'll keep working, paying my bills, and doing my best to enjoy whatever it is that takes up 40 hours of my week.

What's the best job you've ever had? How about the worst? I love hearing about other people's experiences, so please leave them in the comments!

33 comments:

  1. This is fascinating--thanks for the deeper glimspe into your life!

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  2. I have to say I experienced quite a bit of retail hell before I discovered the wonderful world of working with children in the mental health field. Interestingly enough, many of said retail locations went out of business, perhaps due to my reluctance to try to get people to buy crap...
    I think at certain points during college I was juggling 2 part time jobs, an internship, and 20 credit semesters... oh, college... I wish I remembered you!
    hehe

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  3. I love to hear about other's jobs too...I want to find somebody who has jumped around more than I have! In the twenty years I've worked, I've held at least twenty jobs (that's counting the time spent temping as one job although I was at a new place every week or two). I can barely remember all of them now!

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  4. I love this post!

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  5. My pleasure! I'm glad you were interested! :)

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  6. Retail is definitely a special kind of hell. Especially during the Christmas season! I couldn't listen to Christmas songs for four years after I quit the last bookstore. Working with kids sound a lot more fulfilling.

    I wish I remembered more of college than I do. But I guess that's the conundrum of college life! ;)

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  7. I really enjoyed writing it! Oh, the memories!

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  8. The worst ever was Starbucks. Summer in NYC. Nearby a hospital. Morning shift. Angry residents. And I never learned how to make any of the drinks properly. It was just awful and I went home crying most days. It was also my first real job ever. It was years before I could smell coffee without gagging. And in college that's saying something.

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  9. Fun jobs! Glad there was Hastings so that we were able to meet! And I kind of have to love Hastings since I also met my husband there :)

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  10. I loved working at day camp! So much fun going on trips and playing with the kids. Getting paid to have fun!. I worked at a fast food place for 4 days, I didn't like it so much :)

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  11. I would have loved to work in a library when I was 16! My best job was probably being a summer tour guide with high school kids travelling in Europe, that was pretty cool! The worst was a job that included cold calling – I learnt that that really isn’t my thing :)

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  12. Bagel store on LI, so funny... I know so many people who worked at bagel stores, my sister included. I was given very sage advice by a guy three years my senior when I first started looking for work. "Don't work with food." he said. Guess where he worked: Strathmore Bagels on Nesconset Hwy! Ha. So, I got a job at Genovese Drug Stores (they're all Eckards now.) I stayed there til I got my first theatre job, at the infamous Theatre Three in downtown Port Jefferson and then at the even more infamous (and I believe near your hometown) Gateway Playhouse. I worked in theatre for 5 years til I entered the car industry. Sprinkle in some babysitting, temping and day laboring (yes, I did Labor Ready. It was sketchy as hell, but it was a fast way to make money during school breaks) and there's my job history! My favorite one of yours is the beach permit office, sipping bailey coffee and reading thru the summer sounds way better than slaving in the garden dept of Home Depot for a days pay.

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  13. Best job was volunteering with the sea turtles (of course)! Worst job was the job I got paid to do at the same time, which was working at a souvenir shop on the island. They never gave me a schedule - they'd call me in the morning and let me know whether I needed to come in for the day. So I could never make advanced plans. And I was always working 12 hour shifts dealing with the same mixed CD every day and drunken tourists. It totally sucked! The worst was when they brought in baby red-eared sliders to sell...which is illegal. Not a lot of people know that, so they're still sold on the side of the road and at mall kiosks. I reported them.

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  14. If a job ruined coffee for me, I don't know what I would do!

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  15. This is very true. Your beautiful babies have Hastings to thank!

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  16. A day camp sounds fun! I've never had a job where I get to work outdoors. Though I think I'd only like that if the weather were always 75 and sunny.

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  17. Your job was traveling in Europe?! That sounds amazing! I can barely cold-call my friends to see if they want to hang out - I hate the phone. I would be terrible at that job!

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  18. I think the bagel store is just a part of Long Island culture - every corner in every town has one. The bagel store was my one and only experience working in fast food - never again!

    I am familiar with Gateway! I knew some people who worked and performed there. To think you were so close for so many years!

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  19. I love that sea turtle place. It would have been my favorite too. And I'm glad you reported the people at your other job! Good on you.

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  20. You've had some awesome jobs! You have inspired me to compile the long list of every job I ever had. So far, I have only remembered 22. I will report back when I have them all. Oh! Make that 23. 24! This is good for my brain!

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  21. I worked 2 jobs while in college.

    The best job I had was monitoring the computer lab. In the 1.5 years I worked there, people only came in twice. I mean RPI was a laptop required course so you really only went into this lab to use photoshop (if you didn't have it on your laptop).

    The worst job was the work study at the 87 gym (the 1887 gym if you are wondering). But working at Chesterfields was pretty awful too but I learned to put up with it. Also Chesterfields had a lot more drama. OK the drama probably made that job worse. I was a banquet server, hostess, and server there.

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  22. I think the best job that I've had so far was working in the Career Counselor's officer for the Navy when we lived in Camp Lejeune, NC. I think I'm pretty good at "selling" things to people...running, yoga, Apple, etc. I like to think that I was pretty good at keeping people in the Navy. I don't think I'd be a very good recruiter of civilians, but I think I did well with keeping people in who were already in.

    Worst job would have to be selling popcorn at the Super Dome in NOLA when I was in Boy Scouts there. I hate popcorn, and having fallen popcorn get stuck in your shoes is really just gross.

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  23. My best job = professor
    My worst job = Walmart employee

    I hope you'll consider submitting to the CFP we issued over at Fashionable Academics!

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  24. It is an excellent exercise! I realized I left off a few unofficial jobs here - like when I was the book reviewer for the Buzz. They paid me every month so it counts!

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  25. You computer lab job sounds like my beach job. I liked being paid to sit around and do nothing!

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  26. You are definitely good at motivating others to do things! I've seen you in action. Also, I didn't know you hated popcorn. I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. ;)

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  27. Wow. Those sound like total opposite ends of the spectrum! I was thinking of submitting to the CFP - I'll double check the deadline and see if I can come up with anything!

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  28. I work at a university in the awards/proposals department as well. Go figure!

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  29. I could do my homework the entire time so it was awesome.

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  30. Should I do best job or worst job first? I'll do worst job to get it out of the way, lol. My worst job was actually at a library! I thought it would be a great job, but I'd just gotten out of college and my life was kind of a mess. Plus the people I worked with sucked. Not a good situation. But I haven't given up on libraries as, libraries are some of my favorite places to be. My favorite job is my current job. I'm a waitress and I hated it at first but I love my coworkers and it's a really good place.

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  31. It's crazy how the wrong people can ruin the right job. My librarian job was awesome, until it wasn't. It was probably the best AND worst job I've ever had, depending on when you asked me.

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