You can tell a lot about people by the menial jobs they held early in their lives. Everybody has to start somewhere … And, this is where I started.
Catching a ball during my fastpitch softball career
Softball umpire: As soon as I was eligible (age 15, I believe), I signed up for umpire training for Elk Grove Girls Softball — my first real job other than babysitting! I’d been playing in the league since second grade, including a few years in its fastpitch travel program, so it seems I knew at an early age to pick a job I love! Calling balls and strikes for 8-year-old girls while being terrified of getting beaned with a flying bat wasn’t the easiest job, nor was getting screamed at by their hyper-competitive parents. But, I took my job seriously. I memorized the rulebook, was always on time (even if I had to ride my bicycle to the field in a rainstorm), wore the heavy equipment in the summer heat, and always tried my best. As far as first jobs go, it wasn’t a bad gig.
Movie theater cashier: I have always loved movies, and a friend recommended I apply to become his coworker at Classic Cinemas Elk Grove Theatre. I got the job and started as a cashier, which meant I did a little bit of everything! I manned the ticket sales booth, cleaned and stocked the concession stand, sold popcorn and drinks, tore tickets, swept empty theaters, scrubbed restrooms, and even voiced the recorded “moviefone” message each week. I learned a lot about customer service, integrity, teamwork, supervising and training coworkers, managing intense situations (i.e, an understaffed concession stand at 7pm on a Friday), hitting deadlines, and even manual labor. Plus, I watched many movies and ate free popcorn. I loved it.
Government procurement clerk: As my movie theater days wound down, I scored a great summer position with the Department of Justice: U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois. I ended up spending my summers and winter holidays there from 2001-2004. As a member of Office Services, I spent my first summer in the mailroom and supply room. I was the only clerk our manager trusted with hand-documenting the location of important case files in our storage rooms. I also processed FedEx packages, burned court case files to CDs, delivered supplies to attorneys, sat in on press conferences and trials, and did all number of odds and ends. After that, I moved into the Procurement Office, where my responsibilities included single-handedly documenting, reorganizing, and maintaining inventory and telephone records for our office of over 300 employees.
Video store associate: As a student at the University of Pennsylvania, I got involved with Video Vault, the video rental store run by Penn Student Agencies. As an associate, I was often the sole employee in the store during my shifts. I was responsible for managing rentals, returns, and purchases; serving customers; organizing inventory; and supervising the cash register. Eventually, I was given my own key and the honor of both opening and closing the store. Again, I love movies, so this was another natural fit.
From there, as they say, the rest is history! These may have been relatively simple jobs, but I learned a lot and developed a work ethic that continues to serve me well in my professional career.