I’ve been working since I was about 14. I don’t really know why I started so early (other than my mom wouldn’t just let me stay home from summer camp and sit on the couch) but it’s not like I saved for college or did anything awesome with my money other than pay my beeper bill. My mom didn’t have a lot of money, and I never had an allowance, so I this was my spending cash – but I think I just really liked working. The responsibility, the rhythm, being around people who weren’t in junior high/high school…
That being said, I have had some odd jobs. Not all of these jobs lasted a long time–some just a semester and some overlapped. And I’m not counting babysitting. But I think my “resume” is worth sharing.
In what I think is chronological order – Jobs I Have Held:
Clerk, Bayside Milk Farm
A family-run, upscale produce/grocery/appetizing store. I worked the registers with a chain-smoker named Jolene. I am pretty sure there were some shady dealings at this store and man-oh-man did it take in money. I eventually quit because they wouldn’t work with my junior high schedule. Also, the produce manager had a lovely habit of assigning each of the clerk’s chest different fruit categories. The girl deemed “Cherry” would always go home crying. Welcome to the working world.
Somehow, someone decided that not only should I help brides with fashion choices, I should go near them with sharp pins, dress their mothers and bridesmaids, memorize fabrics and convince every bride that her wedding dress will be classy and original. And that her special princess day is the most important day in all of our lives. I was actually pretty good at this, as long as I could sell the one or two dresses that I didn’t think were hideous. I vaguely remember Little Miss Sarcasm also working here with me.
Awesome things learned: If you can handle a mother-of-the-bride, you can handle anyone. Seriously.
File Clerk/Law Firm
I filed stuff. It was supposed to be in alphabetical order, but I was a little lax. I actually worked for two different law firms, but I am condensing them here. One was a real estate attorney. The other was a divorce attorney. I spent a lot of time in the back room reading the details of people’s divorce and custody agreements. This makes me a bad, but very nosy person. I once left work crying and with the sympathy of three paralegals because my then-boyfriend dumped me. For the first time.
Awesome things learned: The boyfriend would dump me many times in the future, and it was never worth crying at work over. And that you shouldn’t get married willy-nilly (but I kinda already know that.)
This was one of my most favoritest jobs. Working at August Moon was considered pretty cool. It was a collectibles/gift store that also sold party favors, balloons and rented out costumed characters. We also had a seasonal, awesome costume rental store. My responsibilities included regular store clerk stuff, custom invitations but I was also put in charge of the Beanie Babies consignment. This may have been my most high-pressure situation to-date. I also occasionally had to get into a furry-mascot suit and hand out flyers. I worked here for about two and a half years.
Awesome things learned: How to make a balloon arches and balloon/styrofoam centerpieces.
Yes, I was an assistant. Essentially, my then-boyfriend was the clown/costume character and my responsibilities included Febreezing the outfits, taking pictures of the kids with the clown, running carnival games, serving food and fending off both advances from drunk firemen and evil eyes from their wives.
Awesome things learned: I can make about 12 different balloon animals (all variations on a poodle), and I can make perfect sno-cones and cotton candy twirls.
Medical Records Collection for Life Insurance Underwriting
Life insurance agents need your medical records in order to decide your … plan stuff. Way back when, before email and scanners were popular, this was a pain in the butt. So, they hired companies to do this for them. I worked for one of those companies. My job, all day, was to call up doctors offices and hospitals and request medical records. I would wait on hold, beg, call back, beg again. It was awful. I did this for about two years, off and on. My co-workers were all miserable, middle-aged women who hated their lives. One of my co-workers had a daughter who was dating my boyfriend. Unfortunately, so was I.
Awesome things learned: That it’s very important to stay in school.
Office Manager, Paper Brokerage
I don’t think I was here more than a month. My boss was a father-son team who despite me explaining my technical abilities, figured that as long as I knew how to turn on a computer I could also re-write database programs and design websites. This was not true. I do remember that the father wore oversized, tinted women’s glasses.
Awesome things learned: I learned that there are companies like “paper brokerages.”
Nothing really to note here. I actually really liked doing these kinds of service jobs, but it was always in addition to another job, and just too much for a full-time college student with another part-time job. I also attended bartending school. I have never had, but can easily prepare you a Rusty Nail or a Harvey Wallbanger.
Awesome things learned: Despite being really, really clumsy, I am a pretty good balancer of plates/trays.
Closing Coordinator, Mortgage Company
I worked in the closing department of a mortgage broker for years. It was boring, repetitive but it was the job I worked almost all through college, and it kind of became my entire social life. In fact, a friend got me the job, and I brought on my (then) best friend, my sister, my friend Rachel and at times, my then-boyfriend (yes, that same jerk.) I still keep in touch with a lot of people from there, and keep up with the gossip because Rachel’s boyfriend still works there. I left after I graduated college. I was offered a full-time position, but while I was occasionally challenged, mortgages just aren’t for me. Perks included seeing the appraisals and inside photos of some high-profile clients.
Awesome things learned: Lots of great stuff about credit scores and personal finance.
Intern at the AMNH, North American Archaeology
No matter what job I have, this will always be the coolest. Mainly because it was very little work and a lot of walking around behind locked doors at the museum and looking at awesome artifacts, getting behind the scenes looks at the Human Genome Project, death masks and curiosities from the early collections, learning stories about Margaret Mead and hanging out with the curators in the professional lounges. They paid me for this. I also did all sorts of research and collections cataloging and curation. I was asked to help with some exhibits, but since I apparently can’t cut in straight lines, I was removed from that project.
Awesome things learned: Just that all the really cool stuff is behind locked doors and some awesome stories to tell when I walk around the museum like a pretentious snob.
What I do now isn’t wild or wacky, and the skills I have learned are more valuable but not as general-population-fascinating as balloon animals. But the short version is I am a Marketing Manager/Social Media Specialist. And while it has it’s own host of crazy stories, since I very much love my job, I will keep those to myself.
What’s the craziest job you ever had? What’s the coolest thing you learned from a job?