Inspired by a post on one of my favorite blogs and to celebrate labor day, here’s my job history:
Junior High Years
I got my first job when I was 15 working at a catering hall for $3.85/hour. During the week I’d set up tables and clean. When it came time for the event, usually a wedding, I’d help set the food out, carve meat, and then clean the kitchen and dishes. It was pretty fun at the time and I got to work with my best friend. The owners were an elderly couple who where there every minute that any employee was working. They never let us slack and always tipped us at the end of the weekend. I remember spending my first check on a crash cymbal for my drum set.
High School Years
My favorite “real” job was the one I got when I was 16, at a family owned pizza restaurant as a pizza chef. The cast of characters I worked with were incredible. I remember a delivery driver who was in a heavy metal band, an ex-convict named Spike, and one guy who could do a perfect impression of Alf’s voice and taught me how to do it. Don’t ask for a demonstration. :-P
I also had a brief stint at an inventory service, working nights. This is where I got really fast at entering numbers on a 10-key.
During my junior year I started teaching drum lessons at a place called “Crazy Jim’s” and then at another music store. My interview with Crazy Jim was brief. He took me into a back room, told me that he heard good things about me and pulled a knife on me, threatening to cut me if I ever stole from him. For some reason, that didn’t throw me at all and I took the job.
Teaching is very rewarding and I recommend it to anyone. It’s through teaching that I learned how to work with clients, get along with all kinds of personalities, and manage expectations (of both the students and parents).
Senior year was a great one; I started playing in bar bands and wedding bands with guys in their 20′s and 30′s. So much fun! I was gigging every weekend, making money, and even missed my prom to play at a Sheraton. It was through playing in bands and having to be responsible as a young person in bars that I learned how to be professional while still having fun.
While taking classes at a community college I continued to play in bands, teach drum lessons, and had a telemarketing job that I hated. My job was to up-sell, usually to elderly people who ordered towels and I’d have to convince them to order matching wash clothes. I was good at it, but it was pretty depressing. I felt so bad one night that I cried in my car on the way home.
When I was 21 I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for one year and was fortunate to not have to work while I was there.
When I came back to Minnesota, I got a job at Waldenbooks. This is where I discovered that books could be an escape and almost meditative when you completely lose yourself in a story. My favorite author is still Richard Price.
After working at the book store for two years, I joined another band and worked at a discount movie theater with my friend, who was the manager. It was fun, but I knew that I needed to grow up and get a “real” job.
After a couple of lame temp jobs, I landed one at a large health care company, where one of the computer guys there took me under his wing and would teach me whatever I wanted to know. I was hungry for knowledge and fascinated by the Internet. I was eventually hired as a database analyst.
During this time I taught myself how to use Photoshop for graphic design and learned HTML. I found a job at an Internet company, doing call center work, thinking it would get me closer to doing web work. Hated it! It was essentially a sales job and I had no patience for it. I quit and got a temp job at a real estate company, doing tech support, fixing computers, etc. I was eventually hired as their intranet developer. That job was great! I had lots of time to myself and I felt like I was really in charge of something for the first time in my life.
I eventually outgrew that position and took a job at a software development company, doing web-based banking software and learning how to program. After a couple of years there, I applied for my dream job and got it. I was a software engineer (read: web developer) for a really hip, relaxed, and fun interactive agency. You know the kind: beer, skateboarding, no set work hours. I really loved the company, but still had a nagging feeling inside that there was something more out there for me and I was pretty into photography by this point. I took a week-long studio lighting course at a school in Chicago and started making plans to work for myself.
After working at the dream job for about 8 months, I landed a freelance web job that I knew would pay my rent for 4 months and if I ever wanted to work for myself, this was the time. I put in my notice, with no plans of future work. This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I knew it had to be done if I ever wanted to break from the comfort of employment.
It’s now been 1.5 years and I couldn’t be happier! I have my own photo studio that I absolutely love and still do the occasional web job, the most fun of which is the annual Minnesota Fringe website. So fun!
I’m thinking about playing in a band again and will be expanding my photography business. I currently do a lot of headshots for models, actors, and actresses, which I love and won’t stop doing, but I’ve gotten away from what I really love: documentary work. Look for a new website and promo cards this month. Summer’s over, it’s time to get back to work!