List 8: Jobs


Stealing a page from Eden's book today and listing my previous jobs.

Age 14-15: Arlene's Cafe. Started as busser/dishwasher and moved to waitress on slower shifts, or second waitress on busier ones. I worked only once in a while during the school year (my freshman year in high school) and I think four days a week over the summer. The job ended explosively in August when the boss man screamed at me and called me a very, very bad name for spilling some salad dressing, a story I've told here before.

Age 15-17: Tomaselli's Cafe & Pastry Mill I started just a couple of months after quitting my previous gig. Better food, better atmosphere. I had a lot of fun at this job (and sometimes it was a total drag too, obviously). Again I started as a dishwasher/prep cook/pastry maker and ended up waiting tables. This cafe still says family to me, and I am warmly greeted by the owner whenever I make my way back into it. Here I worked 2-3 days a week during school and full-time over the summer all through the last three years of high school, until I left for college.

Age 18: Reed Residence Life. My first year at Reed my work study job was in the office of Residence Life, which oversees all the dorms. I mostly filed and made copies, answered the phone when the full-time admin was taking a break, that kind of thing. It was part-time, but I can't remember exactly how much I worked there. I recall very clearly that I didn't like it--it was boring.

Age 18: North Douglas Parks Community Pool.
The summer after my first year at Reed, I lived at home and worked at a public pool in the next little town over. I don't know what my title was, but I did a little bit of a lot of things. I worked the early shift, getting there to open the doors at 5:30. I took money and scheduled swimming lessons at the front desk, cleaned the locker rooms (ew), and was done every day in the early afternoon, which left ample time for sunbathing and moping, which were the other two activities I engaged in that summer. Towards the end of the summer, I took a class and became a certified lifeguard, and then I worked a lifeguard/swim lessons shifts before returning to Reed.

Age 19: Reed College Pool. I spent what seemed like the majority of my second year at Reed sitting at the Reed College Pool, sniffing chlorine, watching people swim laps. It couldn't have been that much time, but it certainly seemed like it. I had a radio, I remember, and listened to the bulk of Clinton's impeachment proceedings on NPR. Still, it paid better than other campus jobs, and you could read if there was nobody swimming (which happened sometimes), so it wasn't too bad.

Age 19: Multnomah County District Attorney's Office. The summer after my second year in college, I interned at the DA's office. At the beginning of the summer, I got very, very sick with what turned out to be a pelvic/ovarian infection, and I missed three weeks of work, so it got off to kind of a bad start. It was a cool job, though in retrospect it was clearly more charity than work. I got paid well (for that time in my life, anyway), had to dress up, and had my own office. I helped misdemeanor trial lawyers with prep work and wrote briefs on new research in minority relations in DA's offices. I also created a promotional booklet about the history of the DA's office in the county. It was the first job I had where it became clear that this whole getting a degree thing was a really, really good idea. And I also learned that I definitely did not want to become a lawyer.

Age 20: Reed College Pool. Repeat age 19, only with $.25/hr more for my "experience."

Age 20: Reed College Annual Fund. I did a brief stint my third year at Reed of calling former students and their parents and asking them for money. I have seriously never done anything I hated as much as phone solicitation. And I SUCKED at it, too. I think it was politely suggested that I quit.

Age 20: Reed College Conference and Events Planning:
The summer after my junior year, I stayed on campus and worked as the "summer conference coordinator" for Reed. It wasn't a bad job, though being on-call sucked. I basically coordinated between outside groups who wanted to rent Reed facilities for their conferences or meetings and the Reed offices that they'd need to deal with (janitorial, food, AV, etc.). It was the most responsibility I'd had to date, which I enjoyed, but event planning was and is clearly not my calling.

Age 21: Reed College Prospective Host.
Not wanting to lifeguard again my senior year, and also not wanting to co-habitate with my boyfriend again, I wrangled my way into a job as a prospective host and got a free dorm room. Basically, I babysat prospective students, picking them up, taking them to dinner, showing them around, and having them spend the night in the other half of my split freshman-style dorm room. I averaged less than one student per week, so it really wasn't bad. I was pretty terrible at it, though--by that time I was so down on Reed and becoming so anti-social that I can't possibly have been any fun, or much information.

Age 21: Adjunct instructor I graduated into a really bad economy (2001 in Oregon), so the first job I could find was a two nights/week gig teaching business English at a technical/business college. It was a job for which I was way too young and completely unprepared, and I was worse at it than almost anything else I've ever done. To say I am not proud of that performance would be a vast understatement.

At this point we start jobs that are actually on my resume, and so I get a bit less specific...

Age 22: Art Museum. My first real post-college job. For the princely sum of $17,000/year, I scheduled school tours of the museum's collections, assisting in managing the docent program and the teen program, assisted in creating and distributing educational materials, etc. I worked with great people, with whom I am still in contact, and learned a huge, huge amount. I also learned that $17,000/year is not enough to live on.

Age 23: Medical School. My first and last true administrative assistant job. A huge pay bump (up to almost $30k, if I remember correctly) led me to take the job, and that was the right decision, as I really needed the money. The job itself, however, sucked in such a huge way I can barely articulate it. I spent a lot of time entering procedures performed by residents into a huge tracking database. I also typed dictation notes, made copies...the real admin stuff. Once I was there for a bit longer, I got to do a little more interesting stuff, including research for a breast health education project, but it was mostly pretty brain-numbing, and I was happy when we were leaving for Austin so I could quit.

Age 24: Non-profit. I started at the non-profit at about the same time I started graduate school. I was a "Research and Policy Intern." The work itself was fabulous, really interested and I learned a ton. And I met one of my best friends, The Princess, there (she was my supervisor!). There are downsides to working for a small non-profit, though, and some of them definitely came to my attention during my year there. Suffice it to say that I think I am finished with non-profit work.

Age 25-26: Contract company. This is the job I temporarily left graduate school for. It was a very well-paid (the most I've ever made) gig as a technical writer, working on a contract basis with a technical team at a state agency. One of the easiest jobs I've ever had. Never asked much of me and didn't give me much to think about, but it wasn't a totally unpleasant experience. The most frustrating thing about it, I think, was just the going-nowhere feeling it gave me. I just couldn't see what would be next from there.

Age 26-28: University.
This brings us to the present. I work at a University, managing grants. For the most part, I like my job. I've learned a lot and gained what I think is a very useful skill set. It's not my passion, but it doesn't bore me too much. I'm earning a very decent living, and next month I will have worked in the same position for two years, which (as you can see) is something of a record.

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