Day 1, I had to convince my principal to act like an adult and show me around.
I am an inveterate comparison shopper. The internet is a vast trove of unfiltered community, each site brimming with hundreds of thousands of desk jockey and stay-at-home moms, eager to share their opinion with anyone who will listen. I consult product reviews before I do pretty much anything, getting lost in the mire of Amazon reviews of cat litter, or customer reviews of the boots I’m about to buy. My search for a dutch oven that doesn’t cost an arm and leg is an ongoing, two-year quest, enhanced by constant consumer research. I like my decisions helped along with the opinions of others. I apply this same principle to the job search. That is why I have embraced the glory of Glassdoor.com.
I met David Melito a few weeks ago when I was on vacation in Los Angeles. We were talking about our shared interest in money, mine because—well, you’re reading The Billfold right now, aren’t you?—and his because he’s a production accountant in the film industry.
I could have sold baby clothes at Gymboree in any mall in the country forever and been perfectly happy. Not that selling baby clothes is a bad job. This was before the recession, before any job was a good job. I started in 1995 and I was 17. I had just gotten a car and a license and I needed a job. When I thought about my job job, when I was a real adult, I knew I just wanted to write, but I also knew I was not the starving artist type. Even then, I knew.
One day in college, on what would have otherwise been a forgettable afternoon, two attractive people approached me outside of my department. The man, with his bionic back, parabolic pectorals and arms fixed at right angles, cut an intimidatingly precise figure. The woman was an implausible series of distends, curves and stares—all unnervingly suggestive. There were no introductions or pleasantries; instead, they presented me with a pristine white card. Looking down at it in hope of an explanation, I read, "Abercrombie and Fitch recruitment." They stood back proudly and expectantly, letting what I suppose they thought was an honor sink-in. When I showed no response, they resorted to their pitch. They told me that they needed someone like me and that I would really enjoy working at the company. Everyone was exceedingly "cool" and, in fact, it "wouldn’t even seem like a job."
The summer I was 18, I worked at an amusement park hotel as a housekeeper. The system worked something like this: every morning, we picked up our clipboards from the front desk with our list of rooms for the day, color-coded by what kind of service they needed. Pink was for occupied rooms that just needed a little spiffing, or “makes,” and green for just-vacated rooms that had to be cleaned for guests the following day, or “turnovers”.
Oh lord almighty, Jia interviewed Drake's vocal coach about what her job is like and how she came into it and it is amazing. Dionne Osborne is her name and she is a middle-aged white lady who urges Drake not to drink so much and took him to a WalMart in the middle of Kansas to buy a humidifier. It is, as Dionne will be the first to point out, the coolest job in the world: "I get to help people find their voice. What could be cooler? What could be more personal? Your voice is you."
The CIA Starbucks looks just like regular Starbuckses, except there is no writing names on cups and if someone questions the baristas too much they're supposed to report it. Also there is a very long line since employees aren't exactly running in and out and going for walks to 'grab a coffee' off the premises.
Jess Stoner's essay in The Morning News about working as a contract worker -- "city carrier assistant" -- for the U.S. Postal Service ("YOU EXIST TO REDUCE OVERTIME" as her boss screamed at her) is revelatory and maddening and great. Stoner was hired at $15.13 an hour, earning $1000 every two weeks. As she outlines, though, it's much more complicated than that.