It’s summertime and many high school and college students are keeping busy with summer jobs. Some may be mundane and have nothing to do with ultimate career goals, while others may be fun and others are calculated steps toward entry-level jobs post-graduation.
This got me to thinking about the wide variety of jobs I held as a student. They were definitely varied. Some were fun, some were boring; but, each one shaped me and helped to make me the person I am today. So, I’m taking a quick trip down memory lane. It may not be a straight trip (was that my freshman year or my sophmore year?), but I think I’ve remembered them all.
- Flower Shop Assistant – my mother had worked as a florist before going to college and becoming a teacher. She’d taught me all the basics, and came in to personally vouch for me after driving me to the shop to ask for a job. I only worked on holidays like Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, when they needed extra help. It was my very first paying job outside of the house and gave me the inside glimpse to running a small business.
- High School Sports Reporter – my first paying writing job was covering my high school basketball, baseball and softball games for the parish (county, if you live anywhere but Louisiana) newspaper. It didn’t pay much, but I got my first byline and it certainly impacted my decision to get a college degree in news/editorial journalism.
- Assistant Dance Teacher – this job allowed me to defray the costs my love of dance cost my parents. By helping to teach the youngest children, I got a discount rate on my own ballet, tap and jazz lessons. It required patience and I learned how to explain things in understandable terms.
- Reporter at LSU Cable Magazine – this was a short job, but great experience. With just a handful of students, we launched a new newspaper/magazine that would carry the campus cable schedule, but also local entertainment news. We did it all: advertising sales, reporting, photography, graphic design, and old-style paste-up (something already on the way out in the newspaper business).
- Student Worker Weekend News at Channel 8 – while many aspiring anchor women were struggling to find internships at television stations, this newspaper student got a summer job working weekend news handed to her because the general manager lived next door to her grandmother. My apologies. I enjoyed going out with camera men to grab sound bites, but never made it on camera – which really suited me just fine. I learned how choices were made about what stories to cover, I learned how to create B-roll and even got to write a few pieces that the anchor edited and read. They couldn’t convince me to change degrees, however. I didn’t want to compete with all the beauty queens vying for the jobs.
- Flower Shop assistant – that same summer, I worked weekdays after summer school classes at the silk flower shop of my mother’s best friend. This was the real cush job. Hardly any traffic. Lots of time to study for classes. But, I was entrusted with closing the register each night and took that responsibility seriously.
- Student worker in aquatic research – this one was so boring I can’t even remember the actual name of the department, but it was an easy campus job working for a professor doing research on soft-shell crawfish. My main duty was editing research papers, so all that AP Stylebook training got a good workout.
- Tour Guide at the U.S.S. Kidd – not only a living history lesson, but also great public speaking experience, this job took me from the boiler room to the crow’s nest. It also got me backstage at a Poison concert, but that’s a whole post in itself.
- Tour Guide at Poverty Point archaeological site – a lesson in pre-history came with this job and an appreciation for what was right there in my backyard growing up. It’s a relatively unknown archaeological site that deserves more attention than it gets. I continued my public speaking skills, and also drove a tractor for the first time (that’s what my older brothers were for when I was growing up on the farm).
- Sergeant at Arms in State House of Representatives – back in Baton Rouge, I called on my local state representative to help me find a job while at LSU. As a Sergeant at Arms, it was my job to relay messages from the lobbyists in the “bull pen” behind the House floor to the representatives they sought. I had to stand behind the infamous David Duke, and constantly hoped no one decided to take him out and hurt me in the process. An inside look at politics and power was gained.
- Student Worker at State Treasury – when session was drawing to a close, I got to know my state senator and he was able to place me in the Fiscal Department of the Treasury. The work itself – transcribing written records into the new-fangled Lotus Notes system – but, Mary Landrieu was the state treasurer at the time, and I had to opportunity to see a woman in a position of power and leadership.
- Student Worker at State Bond Commission – I must have done something right in that job because I was able to move from the 3rd floor up to the 23rd floor to assist at the State Bond Commission (also a part of the Treasurery).