working girl

A couple of weeks ago, A’Dell wrote about all the jobs she’s had in her lifetime. And man… I just had to write a similar post because I have kind of an interesting job history.

(And because of My Current Job, things have been INSANE and it’s three weeks later and I’m just now getting around to writing this post. So. YAY WORK!)

First Job: Babysitting. I think I was twelve? Thirteen? Somewhere around there when I started occasionally babysitting for some of our neighbors. Here is where I share a secret: I never enjoyed watching other people’s kids. Now that I HAVE kids, it’s not a big deal- but when I was younger? I didn’t really like it. I never knew if I could believe the kids when they told me that yes! I’m allowed to have a snack before bed! or yes! I’m allowed to watch tv right now! I found it stressful and boring and back in the early 90s? It didn’t pay very well. heh.

First ‘Real’ Job: Ice cream shop. I was sixteen and legally employable! Wahoo! So I started working at a small ice cream stand/shop- one of those old school, walk-up-to-the-window and eat your ice cream under the florescent lights on the sticky picnic table places. We also served greasy burgers and onion rings and fried mozzarella sticks. It was a decent gig for me to start out, and hey! Free ice cream and bad (good!) food- WIN!

Second Job: This is the job that will go down in history as The Best Decision Ever Made. It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and I reeeeally wanted a better job for the summer so I didn’t have to go back to the ice cream place (I’d had my fill of it by then) My neighbor and I were walking to the bus one morning, and she mentioned she had started working at a nearby Wendy’s. I had never had any big plans to work in fast food, but she said it was pretty easy and the people she worked with were fun, so I applied and started that summer.

Three months later? I met Dan when we worked the same shifts and the rest is history.

Third Job: My fast food glory days ended pretty quickly- by spring time, Dan had quit working there so it lost some of the excitement (no cute boy I liked back by the fryers! BOO!) I don’t even remember how I ended up there, but for the summer before college and the summer after freshman year, I worked as…. a summer custodian at my local school district. You guys, it was ridiculous. I SCRAPED BOOGERS OFF OF DESKS WITH RAZOR BLADES. AND CHEWED-UP GUM FROM UNDERNEATH THE DUSTY, SWEATY, HOT BLEACHERS IN THE GYM. But you know what? It paid REALLY well (for a 17 year old with like, no bills to pay, at least) and it was flexible and looking back, it was pretty darn character-building. Any time I had a stressful week in college and wanted to just QUIT and who cares about this STUPID MIDTERM OMG? I remembered the dried boogers. That kept me reaching for a loftier goal. Ahem.

Fourth Job: Thankfully I didn’t have to scrape boogers for more than two summers. I landed a sweet office assistant job with the construction company my dad worked for at the time, and it was AIR CONDITIONED! And I got my own COMPUTER! And there was filing! And copies! And paper clips! It was a much better job than all my others, and I think I did it for a full summer and over a few winter breaks? I can’t remember. But I do remember enjoying it quite a bit- my first office experience, even if it was a small office (like two other people, max.) I also built them a (free) website… hm… foreshadowing?

Fifth Job: The summer before my senior year of college, I had TWO jobs. A few days each week, I went back to my roots: I worked at TCBY making yogurt cones topped with all sorts of ridiculously delicious things. I ate a LOT of Snickers topping with a spoon in the break room, man. The rest of the week, I had my first job in my chosen career field: biology. I was a lab assistant in a lab for a medical technology company. It was kind of a start-up situation so they didn’t have much work for me, and it was unpaid, but I DID get college credit for it so that rocked. And I did learn quite a bit about running a lab. And again… I built them a (free) website. FORESHADOWING!

Sixth Job: I graduated from college with a degree in Biology- WOOOHOO! I landed a job a month or so before graduation as a research tech for a lab/hospital in Pittsburgh. I was very excited about it when I started… but it didn’t take long (TWO WEEKS) before I was looking for something else. You guys, this job was so dumb and pointless. I was paid to sit there and babysit people coming in to use a VERY VERY VERY EXPENSIVE AND COMPLICATED piece of lab equipment. THAT THEY NEVER TRAINED ME TO USE. And most of the users coming in didn’t speak English very well, so when they had questions, communication was impossible- I didn’t know what they were asking and I ALSO DIDN’T KNOW THE ANSWERS. Because NOBODY EVER TRAINED ME. I spent 2 months stressed out and frazzled or very, very bored playing Solitaire on the computer. I hated every minute of it.

Seventh Job: Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to find another job, and I ended up working there for almost 4 years. I worked as a research specialist in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh, doing lung cancer research. The number one thing I loved about this job was the people. I made some great friends here and I miss them still today! The work was great, but after a few years I realized that the career path was just not what I expected. I had no desire to go to graduate school or to get a PhD, so I felt a little bit like I was in a dead-end job. Which… when you have a pile of student loans to pay back and 4 years of REALLY hard work in college and you feel like you’re at a dead-end? It’s depressing.

So. I had been ‘playing around’ on the Internet for 8 years by that point, teaching myself HTML and design and CSS and all that geeky stuff. It was purely a hobby, something I loved doing. I had always insisted that NO WAY would I EVER do it for my job (lots of people had suggested it!) because I was afraid I might end up hating my hobby and who wants THAT? But after working a few years in the lab and realizing that was It, I made the decision to try something new. I launched my first (HORRIBLE, PATHETIC!) version of Inksplash Designs in October 2004.

Eighth Job: I worked full-time in the lab for about 6 months while getting my freelance work off the ground. I was insanely busy, working during the days, then again at night, and even taking a design class at the community college, not even sure what my end goal was but just knowing that I had to do SOMETHING to change my current situation. And in the midst of it all, I decided to put together a resume and post it on and just… see what happened. Somehow (Miracle! Divine Providence!) someone found it and a few months later, I was working full time as a web designer. For a COMPANY! With a PAYCHECK! Doing my HOBBY! I was in heaven.

Ninth Job: I worked for another year as a Fully Employed Person, and at the same time I was working furiously in the evenings and on weekends, building up my client base and learning a lot and being stressed out and loving every minute of it. Eventually, by the summer of 2006, I had enough work coming in that I was finally able to consider quitting my full-time job and working solely for myself. It was scary and crazy and exciting. And I’ve been doing that ever since.

Tenth Job: A week after I put in my two-weeks notice at my last full-time job, I found out I’d be taking on yet ANOTHER job- the role of a mother! :) It’s the hardest, most ridiculous job EVER… but it has the best benefits package around.




  1. Jayna @ Yankee Drawl

    April 11, 2012 11:25 pm

    My first “real” job was at an old school drive-in ice cream place, too. It was a special kind of place and I started when I was 13 (!!) since they skirted all the child labor laws :-) Cones with sprinkles still remind me of those 5 (!!) years of my youth.

  2. Becca

    April 11, 2012 11:53 pm

    I can’t believe it’s been almost six years since you went to full-time web designer, seems like yesterday!

  3. A'Dell

    April 12, 2012 7:57 am

    i love this! Man, EVERYONE started out babysitting. And, the boogers? OMG OMG OMG.

    • Jen

      April 12, 2012 7:58 am

      IT WAS CERTAINLY MOTIVATING WHILE IN COLLEGE, I’ll just say that ;) LOL OMG. (but, oddly, kind of prepared me for motherhood. ha)

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