Every Job I’ve Had: Publishing, Teaching, and the Inevitability of Grad School

I got my first ever paying job through a family friend. My mom’s college friend ran a (now defunct) television production company specializing in lowbrow A&E Biography specials (RIP), afternoon cooking shows for the Food Network, and occasional documentaries for HBO. I was shy and willing to earn minimum wage spending all summer inside, reading the internet. My first summer, I pitched subjects for a Biography special on murderers. I spent a lot of time on Crime Library, got familiar with the filming policies for both federal and assorted state prisons, and eventually one of my suggestions became a TV episode! “First Person Killers: Ronald DeFeo,” (about the guy who inspired The Amityville Horror) aired sometime in 2006, and I have still never seen it.

My No-Bullshit Hiring History: Kitchens, Concert Halls, Banks and More

In addition to handing out programs, I scheduled the other ushers and occasionally ran the sound booth. Perks included choice hours and the ability to wear colors. The highlight of this job was meeting Aretha Franklin backstage. She called me Stewart and asked me to bring her a hamburger.

Borders, Bluestockings, And Box Offices I Have Known

I broke into my current industry through a meandering and long process of leaving jobs for similar ones that were slightly better. Though I’ve met a lot of people through my various jobs and am still in touch with many, I haven’t been able to work this network or my other friends much for job connections. Mostly this has been because I’ve moved cross-country twice, and I spent most of my career in a small niche industry which doesn’t have many jobs open in general.

Every Job I’ve Had: Park Ranger, Camp Counselor, and Cruise Ship Entertainment Host

I became an employee of the federal government pretty much by accident. I had meant to be searching for (do I even have to say unpaid?) summer internships in theatre production on my university’s career services site. At some point, though, I clicked through to a different search category and ended up perusing recreation and leisure jobs that actually paid money. Thusly, what would have been my eventually illustrious career as a high-powered Broadway producer ended before it had even begun.

From Night Shift Obit-Writer to Corporate Monkey: An HR Exec Reflects

The breakfast interview is akin to going to the dentist’s office: you have something in your mouth while the person in front of you asks important questions.

Every Job I’ve Had: Anti-Sweatshop Agitator, Tutor for the 1%, and More

For one glorious summer, I roamed my old day camp flirting with counselors from around the British empire with 7 year-old girls in tow (a delightful age, too young to distrust adults but old enough to have insights into the universe).

Developer, Farmhand, and Other Jobs I’ve Had

Library Book Cataloger at a university library, September 2006-May 2007:

I spent about 10 hours a week my freshman year cataloging newly acquired books in a cubicled, fluorescent-lit, linoleum-tiled 70s-era wing of the otherwise breathtakingly gorgeous main library. I would grab books from a big pile, scan them in, classify them, and then place them in new piles; I have no idea what happened to the books before or after my work. The highlight of my year was the week I had to catalog an enormous collection of smutty chapbooks about transvestites. On my last day, the two full-time employees in the next cubicle admitted that they’d admired my outfits all year and wish they’d said something sooner. I felt ready for a more dynamic, involved job. Programming Intern at a small tech company, June-July 2007:

I failed to get an exciting computer science internship at Microsoft for the summer, so back I went to Oklahoma, my home state. Fortunately, the tech consulting firm of a family friend hired me as a part-time paid intern, and for two confusing months I walked to the office park about mile from my childhood home and pretended that I knew something about programming in C#, a weird, Microsoft-y variant of the C++ programming language. It was my first experience with client work, and my first experience in reading New York Times articles while I was supposed to be on the clock.

Undergraduate computer repair tech, September 2007-May 2009:

From Botanical Gardens Intern to Anthony Bourdain’s Assistant

I quit the PR assistant job after three weeks, and my dad said, “You should probably stop quitting jobs for a while.”

Every Job Ive Had: Data Entry, Dog Food Factory, And an Almost-Architect

Thanks to the generous wages afforded by a company monopolizing a nation's dairy industry, I never worked during the school year, except for a single day, done mostly as a favor.

Every Job I’ve Had: Real Estate, Nonprofitry, and a Ladyblog

Looking back it seems so gradual that saving the world and being a writer, my two life’s goals, have become increasingly separate from what I get paid to do all day. While it’s taken some getting used to, I am learning to like it this way. There are certain benefits to severing your creative endeavors from your financial needs. And the rhythm of my days and weeks at a boring desk job still allow quiet moments here and there where I can take a minute, or even a few minutes, and write.