9 Jobs I've Had, Both Weird & Wonderful

Thursday, March 22, 2018

In my recent "10 Things You Didn't Know About Me," I wrote about my first job, working at a bakery at age 15. I thought it might be fun to share some of the other jobs I've had through the years particularly in those formative high school & college years. I've had some terrible great ones!

1. Cashier & Assistant at an Italian Bakery

Like I said, when I was 15 I took a job decorating cakes & making pastries at an Italian bakery called Ninni's (RIP). I left very early every day to stuff cannoli, fill French horns, stack cookies, decorate cakes, & do whatever else was needed of me. It was a really fun place to work, especially at Christmas, & not least of all because I worked with my best friend.

2. Concessions Stand Manager at a Mini Waterpark

Whenever I tell someone I worked at a swimming pool, they seem to respond excitedly, "Oh, I was a lifeguard, too!" But... no. I was a "kitchen girl," managing the concessions stand at Waterworks Family Aquatic Center. I roasted the hot dogs & ordered the pizzas & swirled the ice cream cones & mixed the slushies. I accepted wet dollar bills out of dads' swim trunk pockets & chased after kids who stole Nerd Ropes. It was, hands down, the most fun job I've ever had.

3. Holiday Staff at Macy's 

Whyyyy did I always want to work in retail? I can't explain it, but I always wanted to work in retail. Enter my job at Macy's over holiday break during the first two years of college. I worked primarily in the accessories & jewelry departments &, occasionally, in the men's department. I actually loved working in the jewelry department because some of the most frequent customers were men looking for gifts for their girlfriends & wives, & older ladies looking for gifts for their daughters & granddaughters. I loved trying to help them pick out the perfect piece.

4. Fryer Cleaner at the Campus Dining Hall 

This was both the worst job I've ever had & the shortest-held job I've ever had. I applied for an on-campus job at the dining hall a few doors down from my dorm, but I was a little late into the application process, so there weren't many gigs left. That's how I ended up in shoulder-high rubber gloves, cleaning a fryer big enough for me to fry myself in. On my first day, someone walked by & said, "Oh... is this your job now? Usually they only hire, like, big dudes to do this job." I went home reeking of oil - & quit by phone after day three.

5. Circulation Staffer at the Campus Library

This is the job I scored through campus job placement after I left the fryer cleaning gig, & boy, did I get lucky. I worked behind the circulation desk, checking books in & out, answering questions, & trying to return lost & found items to their owners. I worked with some of the greatest coworkers I've ever had, a motley crew that played a Family Guy drinking game every Tuesday & truly saved me from the hell of living in a sorority house I hated. When I transferred, my job at the library & the friends I made there were what I missed most. 

6. Event Staff at a Community Center

When I transferred colleges, I lived with my mom for a year & tried to get a job at the front desk of a local gym called The Natatorium, where a few friends worked. They didn't have any opening for front desk staffers, so they took me on as an employee in the adjoining community center part of the complex, staffing everything from weddings to city council meetings to kids' swimming pool parties. It was a weird & unpredictable job, but it was also kind of fun. I met lots of interesting people... & ate a lot of free food. Mostly cupcakes.

7. Assistant News Editor of the Campus Newspaper

When I transferred to Kent State, I started working for The Daily Kent Stater, an award-winning campus paper that also covered the surrounding city of Kent (& I'm still mad that it's not a daily anymore). In my senior year, I was named assistant news editor, helping to budget, assign, & edit stories & overseeing night publication once a week. Although it was a stressful, high-paced job (I practically lived in the newsroom), it was also one of the most rewarding - & surprisingly professional - jobs I've ever had. And yes, it paid! 

8. Front Desk Staff at a Local Gym

After about a year working as event staff in the community center, The Nat moved me to gym staff, working the front desk. I sold gym memberships, swiped people into the facility, helped clean up & organize the weight floor... it wasn't hard work, but I enjoyed it, especially because it was a great opportunity to talk to all kinds of different people. I kick myself, these days, for not taking advantage of the free gym membership when I had it - & man, that was a great gym! I've yet to find one that even comes close, especially for the price.

9. Legislative Assistant at a Religious Non-Profit

My first "real" job right out of college was working at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism as an advocate on social justice issues related to civil rights & criminal justice. I worked on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act & the ADA Amendments Act, among others, meeting with coalitions of like-minded interfaith & secular organizations & lobbying our members of Congress on Capitol Hill. I also organized petitions, created action alerts, ghost-wrote op-eds & Congressional testimony... it was a freaking cool job. Ten years later, I still work for that office's parent organization.

Tell me: What jobs have you had? Can you relate to any of mine? 

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