Monday, February 1, 2010

The Winding Road of our Careers…

When I think back to my first job, it seems hard to imagine how I got to where I am. At 15 years old, did you ever imagine your life would turn out the way it has? I can’t imagine anyone would say yes. It is a twisting path of people you meet and decisions you make without really thinking about the ultimate consequence. This is sounding really heavy, and it’s not meant to be. I always thought I would be an accountant (which is what my degree is in), and I thought I would be a partner in one of the big accounting firms. This was back when those firms had reputations above reproach— “the most trusted profession in America.” Or so the experts said.

My first job was pretty normal for that path—bookkeeping for a local business. Then when I finished college, I worked for an accounting firm and got my CPA. All the logical steps, right? And now I am in direct marketing selling these beautiful figurines and beloved collectibles. I love what I do, but it’s a path that I didn’t expect. I became more of a general business person instead of an accountant. Well, it got me thinking…what are other people’s stories? You work with people every day, but you don’t really know what led them to their current place; probably the same twists and turns that you had.

So I asked people here at Hamilton about their first jobs, and I’ve received a lot of responses. I have laughed and teared-up reading some of their stories. What I found out for sure is that these folks around me have a strong work ethic. They started working young and not at terribly glamorous jobs—everything including fast food order taker (with polyester uniform), trolley driver, soldier, dental assistant, photographer, lifeguard, trashcan guy, shoe sewer (?), you name it. How did we all get here?

The best story was about one of our co-workers who worked at a veterinarian’s office. I am going to put her story here just as she sent it to me because it is so touching:

“I worked in the back room and boarding area as head dog washer, cage cleaner and pooper scooper! The veterinarian was an eye specialist, so many of the cats and dogs were unable to see for the few days after surgery, and I worried about them being scared.... so I sang. Badly I'm sure, but the animals were peaceful and quiet while I was there singing. Except for one beautiful, blonde, fluffy, show quality Cocker Spaniel, who had been abandoned with us because she had developed early cataracts, and was of no further use to the owner for breeding purposes. The owner brought her in to be put to sleep. The doctor wouldn't do that, so he fixed her eyes instead and she stayed in the back room kennel with me during her recovery. When I sang one certain song, “Layla,” by Eric Clapton, she would howl like a basset hound and start every other dog howling and barking. I learned not to sing When she was fully recovered, I adopted her and named her Layla.”

What a great story! After a story like that, you wonder how this person became a graphic designer. But we’re glad she did.

If you have a great first job story or if you wonder how you got where you are in your career, share it with me here or on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you. Talk to you again soon.

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