I have had a lot of jobs. And by a lot, I mean, a lot. I’ve been working since a young teenager, from babysitting to lifeguarding to the one-hour photo lab in the local Winn Dixie.
So making my own money has always been something I’ve done in order to shop at the mall (high school) fund my concert habit (high schoolàcurrent) and any other extracurriculars. I worked three out of four of my college years and had two jobs waiting for me to choose from upon graduation. So I’m well versed in HR matters, onboarding, cubicles, desks, offices, standing up all day, sitting down, etc.
Some of my jobs have been pretty weird; such as working at Radio Shack as a senior in high school. What 18-year-old wants to talk about transistors and capacitors and soldering guns? I admit I wanted to work there because I liked electronics and technology and my grandpa took me to Radio Shack no less than 100 times growing up. But I had no idea about the minutiae of tiny parts I’d have to demonstrate some level of knowledge about.
As a fan of photography, I was also a photographer for a company in college called BOPP: Big Orange Party Photography, where I had to go around to sorority parties and photograph drunk girls and their friends. I wasn’t in a sorority so the thought of going to those parties, sober, was not high on my “must-do” list. Needless to say, BOPP ended when they told me I had to work late on my 21st birthday. I wasn’t going to be at someone else’s party when mine should be starting.
Another odd job was working at Honey Baked Ham during the holiday season where they literally hire people off the street to come in. Some of the conversations I witnessed included one psycho girl running around with a foot-long blade threatening to cut someone and another who couldn’t understand how to compute the math when telling a customer how much a ham would be by multiplying its per-pound price by the total weight.
By far, the most interesting job I ever had was for about seven years off and on at the Bilo Center box office. It was my second job and always just a little bit of extra cash for me and a way to score some free tickets to concerts every now and again. During one of those years I lived with my parents who loved hearing my stories when I came home night after night. I always said I could write a book just from those stories alone. Some of my favorites were walking through the back entrance during the annual circus and getting up close and personal with an elephant as he had a bowel movement in my presence. The octogenarians coming to see gospel band, The Gaithers, and then yelling at me for not putting them on the front row because they couldn’t do stairs. When I told them the front row was indeed at the bottom of 14 rows and they would have to not only walk downstairs to get to those seats, but subsequently, walk BACK UPstairs to leave, they were miraculously healed and now wanted to do stairs. Those old people are sure cranky. I once had a grandpa spit on my window because I didn’t get his granddaughter the best seats for the circus that had been on sale for 3 months, yet according to him, front row center should still be available just for him. And finally, the mixture of olfactory treasures I was greeted with on the nights of Monster Truck Jam or the heavy metal concerts. The combination of pot, body odor, stale cigarettes and other nondetectable scents permeated the box office every time I would remove my barrier from the window to the outside world. Those were some good times.
During my career path, those were all just stops along the way to make money, but none were part of my career. Those jobs have thankfully been an each-one-is-better-than-the-previous type of job. But sadly, the creative people, especially the writers, are like red-headed stepchildren in many companies, so I’ve lost my job quite a few times when the going gets tough. Having weathered the 2000 .com bust and the 2008 real estate crisis (I was working at a .com in 2000 and an architectural firm in 2008) I am quite familiar with the whole “we gotta let you go,” routine.
So it’s interesting to think that just three weeks ago I gave my notice to the one job that was by far the most challenging and in many ways most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Clemson University was an amazing opportunity for me and one that I put 100 percent into. I was finally in an environment where most people were or seemed smarter than me, and it challenged me regularly. My bachelor’s degree might as well have been a high school diploma among the myriad degrees my colleagues had. But I was never chastised or looked down upon, I just noticed it a few times was all.
As the sole writer, editor, web developer and social media person, I was quite busy. I got a little burned out after 5.5 years and have always been interested in management and directing/strategy, but my position didn’t seem to have the ability for any upward movement without leaving my team. I loved my coworkers and teammates, but to do something different was going to mean leaving them, be it for another Clemson job or somewhere else.
So a new job kind of fell in my lap on the recommendation from a friend. It meant a return to corporate communications, something I never thought I’d do. Academia is SUCH a completely different environment and one that I felt like was for me. I’d started an internship program for writers—to give them something I never had—and loved the opportunity to help shape the future for communications and English students. So going back to corporate America was a bit daunting.
But one interview led to two and then three and each time I grew more excited about the opportunity to be a content strategist. There was hope for growth and making this position into something totally unique. It is brand new for the company and there is promise and excitement around what it will and can mean for the marketing department and company at large.
However, I wasn’t going to just move just to move. And even a bigger salary wasn’t an immediate reason to jump ship. I had to really ask questions and make sure this wasn’t going to be something that in one year would have me packing my desk with a box of photos, a plant and leftover ketchup packets. I talked to my husband. I prayed. I talked to friends, and I practically gave my would-be supervisor the third degree on everything the job would entail. I even told my supervisors, who were incredibly supportive. Getting a new job was going to mean quite a few changes for my family as well, so I couldn’t be hasty and just greedy for the salary increase.
When looking at my pros and cons list, it wasn’t an easy decision. I was giving up a nice office for a cubicle, a shorter commute for a longer, traffic-filled one, shorter work days for longer ones with later hours (which means less time with my kids) and a few other things that made the decision harder. But I thought about it hard and thought about the future and what it could mean. Hopefully, I wouldn’t be needing another new job in a few years and this could keep me stimulated and growing with the company.
So, I packed up my box and left Clemson after 5.5 years and a few tears. I am now a content strategist for a technology distributor and am one week in. I’m in a cubicle in a room without about 50 other cubicles and the noise can be deafening at times. Yet I’m surrounded by fun creative types and have already made no less than 10 connections with people that I am excited to explore further. My cube mates are hilarious at times and keep me entertained, and I’m already learning so much about marketing from my boss and teammates. Not to mention, the company itself is fantastic. They are charitable, supportive, promote healthy lifestyles and have a broad spectrum of involvement opportunities. They are more than just a place to work, which is why I was attracted to them in the first place.
So, it will be fun to see five years from now if I’m still sitting at my same desk. In many ways, I sure hope so!