Posts Tagged ‘job history’

Job history: real world edition

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,

If you missed the first three parts of this series, you can go read about the jobs I had in high school and the jobs I had during college (while school was in session and when it was summertime).

Communications think tank and consulting firm

In December of 2008, I officially entered “the real world” after finishing my final quarter to earn my double BA in Psychology & Economics. I was still taking time in the new year to ponder my direction when I happened to chat with a friend who thought I should join her in Singapore. She was working for Caelan & Sage, a small communications consulting company, and felt like I would enjoy it there. We arranged a Skype chat with her bosses, the co-founders, and next thing I knew I was flying to Singapore to work for a few months!

sitting at desk laughing

Enjoying one last sit at my C&S desk before leaving.

Out there, the culture was much more different than I had expected. It was neither the Western culture I had grown up in nor the Eastern culture I had been influenced by. While I enjoyed the people I met and worked with, it got to be lonely (especially since Panda was still in LA). Work ranged from meeting with clients to tapping away at proposals. Eventually I fell into a more internal development role, since I was interested in that sort of thing. I’ve always been fascinated by company culture and managing the activities and resources within a business. I got to work building an internal reference database and doing support roles for the projects.

Green conference

Nearly half a year later, it was time to return to the US. My stint in Singapore had been a rich experience but my heart was still stateside. As I was still trying to figure out a direction for a job hunt, Panda and I happened upon a recycling machine at Whole Foods with an ad for a green company. We went online to learn more and somehow stumbled upon the Opportunity Green website. I think being green (or more accurately, resource-conscious) has always been important to me. My parents raised me to not waste water, electricity, and the like. In college, I started to learn about all these green initiatives and it became a growing passion. Opportunity Green seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore the world of green solutions and they were looking for interns, so I immediately applied!

manning press & speaker registration table at opportunity green 2009

I loved interacting with attendees as they arrived for OG 09.

I worked with OG starting in September for a few weeks leading up to the conference that year, then stayed a few more months after. Pre-conference, I managed press and media partnerships, ensuring that we were getting the coverage promised by various media outlets and they were getting the appropriate number of press passes for the event. I helped set up many of these agreements and then managed a spreadsheet listing all the coverage OG was getting, for reference. When it came time for the actual conference, I managed press and speaker registration. I welcomed them all (many of whom I recognized by name from all the correspondence we had done) and ensured they had all the information they needed – press kits and directions to the press room for the media folk and escorts to the speaker lounge for the speakers. Once it was all wrapped up, I followed up with our media partners to get final articles and videos out for the world to read and watch.

Online & affiliate marketing firm

By the end of 2009, my parents were getting anxious that I get a “job” job, so I had to leave OG and focus on my job hunt. I found many exciting opportunities and ultimately ended up taking an offer with WebYes!, LLC. My start date was February 1st and it launched me into quite a learning experience over the course of the next two years! WebYes dealt in many areas, mostly in the online marketing realm. I was brought on to be an affiliate manager, so I was trained to set up offers, both in terms of negotiating agreements with affiliates and uploading the appropriate information to a platform we were using. A few months in, my manager left and I worked directly with the CEO to try to hold things together. I was still very new to all this, so it was definitely a challenge. I didn’t want to run to the CEO every time I had a question, so I had to learn a lot on my own.

centerfield media (formerly webyes) office

There were TVs everywhere with a laidback vibe at Centerfield.

A few months of keeping it together on my own (I basically was my own department at that time), a new manager was brought on to expand our affiliate marketing efforts. In addition, our CEO decided to bring on a co-CEO with expertise in many areas of online marketing. The company was rebranded to become Centerfield Media. We expanded to SEO and SEM, among other things. I finally found myself with someone to work with, and soon the one or two reports I managed grew until much of my day was consumed with reporting. I created spreadsheets to track a ton of performance metrics and others were hired to focus on the sales side of things. My new manager then parted ways with the company and I sort of got absorbed into the team of another manager. The new co-CEO took over the projects that my former manager had been working on and I found myself splitting my time between the new manager and the co-CEO.

The combination of my role evolving away from what I wanted to do, having been in a long-term long-distance relationship with Panda (he moved out east for a job), not seeing as much growth potential for my role anymore, and the hope of a new business opportunity with a business partner led me to decide to leave. Oh yeah, and the horrible commute I endured was wearing down on me too (3 hours a day roundtrip). This was early March 2012 and I felt like I needed to make a change, so I spoke to my new manager. He kind of saw it coming, perhaps because he too recognized that my potential was not being fully utilized. I’ve always wanted to start my own business, and the timing felt right. I finished my last day in late March after training a few coworkers on the work I had been doing.

Soon after I left, they hired a girl to supposedly take over my role but then I got an email from the manager asking me if I knew someone suitable for the position. I had helped the company find a designer over a year earlier, so he thought I might have the right connections for this position too. I reached out to my network and as luck would have it, a really great candidate surfaced. He actually was the one who told me about the demoing opportunity I took a few years back! He eventually was hired to help take over the reporting I was doing and I’m sure much more too.

My own ventures!

sitting at desk working on making origami jewelry

I even tried my hand at making origami jewelry for PandaLoves!

Meanwhile, I was settling into life as a self-employed businesswoman. Over the course of the next year, I would try many things, mostly in the e-commerce realm but also in blogging and social media. The business that I was working on with the coworker had to take a backseat when he began wedding planning, so I began to sell trinkets and beauty products online. I created to sell iPhone cases, since ones I had gotten for myself were getting compliments from strangers. I also opened up for gift items like skincare, jewelry, and trinkets. I sold both through those sites as well as on eBay. It got to the point where I was sending out many packages a week and really getting the hang of things, but I wasn’t sure how to expand my operations. I explored a couple of avenues, but they didn’t end up panning out.

I then thought that since I was selling all these fun little things from Asia, it’d be fun to explore putting together a subscription box of trinkets. Each month, I could send out 3-5 cute items sourced from various Asian countries – the stuff you’d expect to find in the markets and bazaars out there. It would be like getting a piece of those regions for those who couldn’t afford to go themselves. Plus, I could include the back stories of the cultural significance of the item or the life story of the person who made them. I began to put together a Kickstarter, since that’s a great way to get funds and ensure you have an appropriate customer base to start.

New direction

Right around that time, Panda and I started to find some tension in our relationship. I didn’t feel like he was that supportive of my ventures and I was discontent with not being able to spend much time with him. When we finally hashed it out, I came to the conclusion that the most important thing to me right now is being able to settle in with him and the most important thing to him is being able to not have to worry about my career and financial future. So, we agreed that the best thing at this stage would be for me to move out east and find a job. We’d settle out here and I could do some selling on the side. That Kickstarter would be tabled. And that’s where I’m at now! I’m currently interviewing for a position at a company I’m really excited about and I hope I get to join their team! I’m focusing on the new condo we’ll be moving in to at the end of the year and saving up enough money for us to comfortably afford the down payment and get everything else we’re going to need – a car for me to drive to work in, some furniture to fill the condo with, a new laptop for me and maybe him, a pair of sneakers to exercise in, and a few other random purchases I’d like to make.

What has your job history been in the “real” world? Did you switch jobs a lot or stick with the same organization for a long period?

Job history: college summers edition

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can go read about the jobs I had in high school and the jobs I had during my college school terms.

I was one of the students who didn’t take summer school, but used that as a chance to land internships and try to figure out my career path. Even though I double majored, I carefully planned my classes from the very first quarter so I wouldn’t need summer school. I did end up taking an extra quarter, but that was because I didn’t realize that studying abroad limited how many classes I could take. Apparently they don’t take well to overly ambitious plans for education abroad programs, even if you are learning in your native language. But I digress. I certainly took advantage of those summers to try out some pretty diverse jobs!

As my first year of college was wrapping up, I had my eye on getting an internship. I tried a bunch of things, but everything was so competitive and very few companies would even look at a first year student. Ultimately, I was able to land an internship with a small film company about to film a low-budget movie. With all this entertainment industry influence around me in Los Angeles, I figured I should see if it was something I’d want to get into. I started off doing administrative work during pre-production. I looked through Craigslist to find housing for actors and I even found a dog to be in the movie. I helped book things and plan things and manage things. I also got to go out scouting a few times, driving around all parts of LA looking for that perfect spot for this and that scene.

filming messiah's castle scene of wristcutters with lots of extras

One of the scenes in the movie, in which I got pulled in to be an extra extra (har har).

Once we started filming, I took on even more, constantly managing the changing grips and electrics, getting second meals (a ton of fast food after a long day as we’re wrapping up for the day/night), wrangling extras, running lines with actors occasionally, and going around doing all that production assistants do. I enjoyed seeing all the behind-the-scenes stuff and running the operation was fitting for my skills. I learned a lot, met a lot of cool people, and even got to put my cat in the film – hence my credit as cat handler. I was probably in there somewhere as well, but only in scenes where you can’t even find me. Oh, and one time I found they’d used my car for a scene… we were very low budget. (The film’s title is Wristcutters: A Love Story, by the way – in case you want to watch it. :))

When it came time for my second summer internship, I wanted to explore a different industry. Since one of my majors was economics, I decided to see if I might want to pursue a career in finance. I landed an internship at Smith Barney with a duo who managed the financial portfolios of mostly aerospace employees. They’d carved out a niche for themselves so they could be one of the most knowledgeable in that area of expertise. Very smart! I spent my time there learning how to cold call, prepare financial portfolios, do financial research, and run a small portion of an office. They taught me how to read the financial portfolios, shared with me how they strategized, and being in that office space showed me what it was like to work in a big office high rise.

working at whole foods demoing food

The only picture I have from my food demoing days.

That same summer is when I found a job to do on the side, since my internship only required 8 hours a week. I became a Product Demonstrator, going to various grocery stores in the LA area, setting up a little table, and giving out samples of food, drinks, and whatnot. My employer was a third party company that represented many brands, so I got to demonstrate everything from ice cream to health bars to tea. I mostly went to Whole Foods to share the products, but sometimes I got sent to other grocery stores as well. For one brand, we actually did our work in Costco! I was pretty good at this job since I love interacting with people and I always carefully read and memorized all the selling points of the product. I did this job on and off for about two years because it was so flexible and I enjoyed it a lot.

ucla live events wall collage of images from event pamplets

I didn’t think to take many pictures so this is all I have – the collage on the wall from programs for the various shows.

When I returned from my year abroad, I interned with UCLA Live! (apparently renamed the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA), which organized live performing arts events affiliated with the university. I was to help with their marketing, which I figured would be a good way to explore my other major, which was in psychology. I did a fair share of warm calls and emails to help promote the upcoming lineup of events for the season. I also had some cold calling to do to try to increase the database of potential attendees. While I didn’t help with the marketing strategy much, I did learn about it and did what I could to push it along.

Finally, when it came to my last summer – the one after my fourth year – I decided that I wanted to do something for myself. Every summer before, I’d gone out and done an internship. It was probably expected that I’d do one more since I was coming back for a final term in the fall and it wasn’t quite time to secure a job yet, but I wanted something else. I was suddenly reminded of my dream to be an Orientation Counselor. Back when I attended orientation, I had such a good time and saw the counselors having such a fantastic time that I told myself I wanted to become one someday. I then kind of forgot about it as the years went on and I learned so much. But then, somehow the idea crept back into my mind (or maybe it was in my subconscious the whole time) and it was now or never. If I was ever to be an OC, it had to be that summer, so I went for it. I was pretty nervous when I went to pick up the notification letter from the office. It was just a tiny letter so I couldn’t tell if it was good news or bad. I was pretty thrilled when I read “Congratulations!”

group of students standing on janss steps at ucla with counselors telling stories

Part of the job was giving tours of the UCLA campus, where we shared many urban legends.

All of spring quarter, the orientation staff met twice a week to train. It was basically like taking another class, since it had quite a bit of homework and a big test at the end. We learned so much about the academic requirements for incoming freshmen vs. transfers, all the cool resources available to students, tons of students groups for so many interests, and just about every aspect of life at UCLA. Don’t worry, we had fun too! I made some great friends and even met Panda there. Serendipity brought us together! (More on that another day.) Once the summer started, it was intense fun and hard work. Session after session of students came and went, we helped them choose majors and pick classes, we took them on tours of campus, and we even performed some pretty amazing skits. On our days off, counselors had various bonding activities planned including a trip to Vegas, hanging out in the middle of the night to watch the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, and just plain enjoying each others’ company. I had a fantastic time!

That wraps up everything I did while I was an undergrad at UCLA. Stay tuned for the “real world” job experience I’ve had so far!

What did you fill your college summers with?

Job history: college school years edition

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

If you missed the first part of this series, you can go read about the jobs I had in high school.

I held various jobs throughout college, some during the school year and some during summer breaks. I considered breaking them down into exactly half and half, but the only way to do that is to highlight school jobs (where my employer was one of the departments at UCLA) and outside jobs, which were for a company not affiliated with UCLA. However, it makes more sense to split it by what I did during the school year vs. what I did during my summers, so that’s what I’m going with.

Reading texts for blind students

I started UCLA at the very end of September 2004. I’m pretty sure we’re the last college in the nation to start classes each year. By December, I was feeling pretty good about getting my groove with classes, so I looked around for a student job and found a position as a Reader for the Office of Students with Disabilities. Each week, I was given certain texts that I needed to read into my tape recorder. Every Friday, I turned in my tapes and they were passed on to the blind student who needed them for class. At first I read all kinds of poli sci-related stuff for a grad student. I met with him a few times to read in person as well, which was a lot easier for him.

Then the next student I had was a third year English student. She had some crazy Middle English texts to get through and I quickly learned how to read older versions of English that have some strange vocabulary. I also met with her once or twice and it was fascinating to watch her use a machine to play back tapes and jump to where she needed to be. Overall, I liked the flexibility of being able to record in the middle of the night (as long as I could find a quiet place where I wouldn’t disturb others). It was nice to know I was helping other students with their coursework too.

On-campus job in the computer labs

four people jumping on beach spelling out rlcc

RLCC training meant some fun bonding times.

My second year I got a lot more interested in student groups, so my social activities skyrocketed and I sidelined the job thing. Then my third year I studied abroad, so I couldn’t work (nor did I want to). While I was away, I found a fantastic opportunity to work with the Office of Residential Life (ORL) as a Resident Learning Center Consultant (aka RLCC – don’t worry, I’ll explain). I particularly liked the “resident” part of the job – it meant that I was guaranteed housing on campus; at that time, we were only guaranteed housing for the first two years and then it was pretty tough to stay on campus unless you had a job that required it. I was in no rush to get an apartment!

I came back from my year abroad to join the student leaders, resident assistants, and other staff of ORL to help provide a great experience living on campus. We had three computer labs in the student housing area, which were there so students wouldn’t have to trek to an academic building to get access to computers and printing. These were deemed Learning Centers since they were a hub for students to come study, learn, and otherwise continue their education. As Consultants, we were trained to help wherever we could – random questions, help with technical issues, etc.

Hence, Resident Learning Center Consultants meant that we lived on campus among the very students we served, we managed/proctored the Learning Centers, and we were more than just someone sitting there making sure you didn’t run off with a computer or jam the printer – we were actually there to help. I enjoyed my time with the team and being able to sit in a quiet environment so I could get work done too. I’m also pretty tech-savvy for a layman, so I was able to help quite a bit. In fact, all us tech-savvy RLCCs would put together fun workshops/events throughout the year, whether teaching students HTML or making ethernet cables together.

Campus representative for a smartpen

livescribe pulse smartpen booth at the los angeles times festival of books at ucla

The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen booth at the Festival of Books!

Towards the end of fall quarter of my 4th year, I learned about a company called Livescribe through my fraternity (Alpha Kappa Psi – we’re a co-ed business fraternity). They were looking for campus reps and even though they actually had one for UCLA already, I was ready to prove that they could use another. I had some great ideas to share and I guess it was enough to convince the marketing manager! We were flown up to Oakland, where they had their headquarters, and given a grand tour. It was great to meet reps from around the country and share our ideas for how to promote the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen. My biggest idea was participating in the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which was still held at UCLA at that point. I also managed appearances at smaller events, where I would demonstrate the cool capabilities of the smartpen. I loved the ability to imagine and implement my own plans.

And that concludes the jobs I held while taking classes at UCLA! Next up will be the jobs and internships I had during the summers in between.

Job history: high school edition

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I thought it’d be fun to go through the jobs I’ve held over the years, since each feels like a different version of me and sometimes I’m suddenly reminded of those experiences (like when a blogger I follow wrote about her kid getting swim lessons). Let’s start with what I did in high school:

The FIRST job, being a babysitter
My very first “job” where I got paid to do stuff outside the home was (surprise) a babysitting gig when I was 14. It was a lively family of 5 children, ranging from about 1 to 10. The first four children were boys and the little baby was a girl. I was approached by the mom one day on my way home from the bus stop – her house is along my route and visible from the stop, so I guess she’d seen me here and there. She needed help managing all those kids so she asked if I’d come watch them. Much of the time she just needed help while she was home, so she could get some work done. Sometimes I helped with the work, other times I made sure the kids were ok. The oldest son didn’t need any watching and basically did his own thing. Two of the other boys would sometimes fight and otherwise cause a ruckus. The one who didn’t fight much was autistic so he needed additional attention, but was mostly happy to watch videos all day. And the baby girl would usually be in her crib playing or sleeping. I don’t think I was very good at it, but I did manage to lighten the mom’s load as much as I could. What an experience it was for me, an only child!

The second job, working at a Chinese buffet
When I was 15, I had reached out to a local Chinese buffet that my parents and I ate at consistently. I wanted a job after the babysitting gig ended, so I spoke to the manager and he took down my number. One day, they actually contacted me to say they were interested, so I got the appropriate work clothing and began as a bus boy/waitress. Initially, they wanted me to just help seat guests and get their drinks, but I kind of ended up waitressing too. Every now and then I’d help out in the kitchen and once I even ran an errand to get groceries when they were running low. I cleaned a lot of tables and poured a lot of fountain drinks. Tips were shared among the “real” waitresses and since I was technically a bus boy, I didn’t get split any (but I didn’t mind). The highlight was when one family was leaving, noticed that the tip they left for me was cleaned up by another waitress, and they flagged me down to give me a $5 bill to thank me specifically. Awww. Scheduling conflicts quickly ended this job – I was a student first, after all!

girls swim team at danbury ymca in early 2000s

I couldn’t find a picture of any of my jobs but this is a pic from the YMCA swim team I was on!

The third job, teaching swim lessons at the YMCA!
A few months later, I was practicing at the YMCA pool (where I was on the swim team) when I was approached to be a swim instructor. I thought it might be a joke since it was April Fool’s that day, but the manager got back to me and we set up a time for me to start! I watched other instructors teach and assisted with their lesson until I could do it on my own. I forget what level I taught – probably Minnows or something – but the kids were mostly about 5 or 6, though I think some were up to 9 or 10. I wasn’t very confident in my skills with kids, but I did have fun and I think they did too. I mean, the goal of the class was basically to help them not drown if they ever fell in a pool. Any sort of swimming skills beyond that was a bonus! Their favorite part was at the end of class, when I’d take them one by one, have them hug me, hold their breath, and we’d go under the water for a few seconds. They came out squealing in delight!

That summer, I ended up having to move away. At my new place, I was too busy getting used to the new environment, not only academically, but physically and socially as well. For the rest of high school, I focused on SAT prep and getting decent grades and applying for college. No more jobs! Next week I’ll be sharing the jobs I had in college, when I started working again.

What was your job history like during high school? Did you try out a bunch of things too or did you not work at all?

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