Work History Meme Part 2: after college


Several of my friends have done a meme where they list their work history. I thought it was really interesting to read other peoples’ histories and I want to participate too! Unfortunately, I have worked so many jobs over the years, often simultaneously, that it became insanely long. Therefore, this became a two-part post. Part 1 is here.

Part 2 – jobs after college

Olive Garden, waitress – when I graduated college, I was not able to find a job immediately. My job search was impeded, no doubt, by the fact that I was working two jobs for full time hours and going to school. Since I had been waitressing off and on for almost a full year at this point, I knew I could move to pretty much any city and work as a waitress until I figured out the next step. The closest big city was Dallas, so I moved there. The first place to hire me was Olive Garden. For those headed toward the server profession: do not work in a chain restaurant! They have all kinds of restrictions and requirements which sorely inhibit how much you can make. I’d recommend a local restaurant like the ones I worked in during college. This job taught me how to run into the bathroom or kitchen and take a professional business call. It also taught me two ways to successfully cheat on a drug test. Not to get this job the next job.

IT contractor – I was finally hired as a temporary contractor for some kind of big contracting company and placed at the faltering telecom Verizon in Irving, TX (right outside of Dallas). I got this job because of all my web site design and web master-type freelance work in college. Completely unrelated to my degree in Speech Communication, of course. I had the joy of driving 35+ minutes in horrible traffic to get to a giant, nearly-empty building before 8am every day where I sat in front of computers testing code. I actually enjoyed the work, but there wasn’t always enough to keep me busy. Not a good problem to have when your job depends on how much they need you. I took on work for other people in the team in order to keep busy, and got trained in areas other than my job. So that was helpful. I met some very nice people. Every day at lunch they talked about when everyone was going to get laid off, which was really stressful after a while. 9/11 happened while was here. I watched it on the TV’s in the giant, empty cafeteria early in the morning and then went back to my desk to watch it on the computers in my cubicle. Everyone had gone home, but I couldn’t go because my boss had disappeared (he had family in NYC) and I was paid hourly. So I sat there alone watching the news online. It wasn’t until 5 months later that we were all, indeed, laid off.

Web Content and Data Coordinator – if you live in the DFW area you might be familiar with a certain family of luxury-car dealerships: Mercedes, Porsche, Bentley, Astin-Martin, Lexus, and since I left they’ve also acquired either Audi or BMW, I can’t remember. I had a great boss here who was a career mentor of mine for years. He was a really hilarious guy, very smart, knew a ton about cars and loved them. I handled all the online advertising which meant I bought and coordinated all the banner ads (banner ads were huge back then, remember?!) and relationships. I also handled the design and management of their luxury automobile accessories stores. Each dealership had their own parts and accessories department and the guys in those departments were really proud of their stuff and fun to work with. I still have a Porsche-monogrammed bathrobe! That’s the kind of thing they sold, items for your everyday life that had your luxury car logo on them. Because if you own a Porsche, you freaking want everyone to know it, even when you get out of the shower. Because I was part of the marketing department as well as the IT department (common placement for the web people at the time), the events coordinator for the dealership group (who was also the mother of one of my friends outside of work) would recruit me and another guy on our team to help assist at their fancy cocktail events. That meant just hanging around doing whatever she told us to and looking nice. It was fun but I remember standing for very long periods of time wearing heels – ouch. The bonus was that I did get to drive the cars. Several times I had a Porsche Boxster over the weekend and once a Mercedes SLK convertible. I just loved the convertibles and I still drool thinking about those cars. During that time I also knew a lot about cars but since it was work-based knowledge, as soon as I changed jobs I just completely forgot everything and I don’t know much about cars anymore except that Lexus is a great reliable car and Mercedes always have electrical problems. It was a good job with a lot of fun perks but it didn’t pay much since they hired me with very little experience.

Production Analyst (Email Marketing and junior Project Manager) – you might have noticed I am now leaving off the names of the companies. If you want to see them, find me on LinkedIn. This is now in the recent-enough past that I am going to start being generic because I am still in touch with a lot of these coworkers and I don’t want anyone to think I am ungrateful or complaining. I have met a lot of really great people over the years. At this job I put together and tested weekly and biweekly email marketing campaigns for our clients. I also did some content management of their web sites. Here I had one or two of my most terrible bosses. For the 2.5 years I was there, I think I had about 6 bosses total. Management just kept changing our bosses and the organizational structure, and it was so confusing because everyone had their own political agenda within the company. I was also going through a lot of personal issues around this time which caused me to have a tenuous hold on my own sanity. My primary client was the company’s cash cow so it was highly stressful, which seemed like a great time for me to stop smoking weed (not really! but it needed to be done). On the bright side, this is also where I met my husband. He was the developer working on the Really Big Client so I worked with him a lot for at least a year before he ever asked me out. By then I’d been in therapy for 6 months so I said yes. We also had mutual friends who assured me he was not another of the crazy bad-for-me men that I had been dating for the past few years. Anyway, that’s personal and not work-related but it did kind of have to do with why I left the job. We were getting more serious and a few people had found out that we were dating. The Really Big Client was still driving me (literally) crazy too, so I decided to look for another job.

Email Marketing Specialist for Major Non-Profit – a co-worker who had just left the company I was working at had gone to work for this Major Non-Profit and called to see if I’d like to come over there too and help them with web QA stuff and email marketing. I went there originally as a consultant and got hired as an employee after around 7 months. Despite how stressful this job also was (email marketing is just stressful in general), I really liked the company itself and everyone who works there is just SO STOKED about working for the cause. Great cause, too. So I was glad to be there and I got a ton of email marketing experience because I was actually the only person who took care of all of the email marketing for this organization for about a year. Eventually we set up some standard operating procedures and hired more staff, which helped a ton. I really liked working here because everyone was so passionate. I definitely would have stayed longer but I was getting burned out on email marketing. When someone from the company I’d left 3 years earlier called to see if I wanted to come back again and do some really boring code work, I actually jumped at the chance to do something more mundane.

Data Producer aka SQL Programmer – by now, Christian and I had been married a few years and he had left the company so it was not a conflict of interest for me to go back. In addition, I was technically coming back to a different company owned by the same person – they shared the same office building and HR/payroll but are legally separate entities. Very confusing to anyone outside but it makes sense when you’re there. I loved this job because I just went to work, wrote code, and left. I never felt stressed to work outside of work hours and I never had any heavy responsibilities. A few times my supervisors mentioned potential team lead opportunities and I was like AHAHAHAHA!! – NO. Everyone on the team worked remotely so I worked from home more and more and when I went into the office it was very casual. I worked here through my first pregnancy and afterward. When I got pregnant the second time, the environment at the office was changing – they bought a new office building that meant more of a commute for me, and they wanted everyone to come in more often. Our team was writing less code and spending more time administrating the software program that now wrote the code for us (not as fun). I had a son who didn’t sleep and then had a new baby who also did not sleep, so my speed and accuracy writing code had taken a nosedive. We decided during my maternity leave that I would not go back, but would stay home with the kids. I was sad to leave this job. I hope if I get another job it is as mundane but technically challenging as this one was, because that was totally awesome. The working from home and not having to wear nice clothes helped too.

Here I am – I worked part time in social media for a friend’s social media company for a while, but I couldn’t keep up enough hours to make my time really worth it for her. Now I am just blogging and keeping house. What is next? I wish I knew!