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How well do you reinvent yourself?

October 7th, 2012 at 07:09 am

As I sit and ponder what my next job will look like, I recall many of the really great jobs I've had. I learned something from each and every one of them.

Here's a rundown, in chronological order, of every job I can remember working, along with some of the highlights and low lights:

In High School
Clerical assistant for a small p/c insurance agency. I was so efficient I worked myself out of a job. My boss didn't have the heart to let me go in person, so he left me a note, along with a $100 bill.

Assembly-line worker in a NJ factory that made street lights. I had a rather dangerous job, standing in a dark booth that simulated dusk and dawn to test and time how quickly the streetlight fixtures turned on and off. If you forgot to turn the switch before you removed the half dozen fixtures from the circuit board, you received a shock that traveled up your arm. Invariably, no matter how careful you were, this would happen time and again.

Typist in a company where my mom worked as a secretary. In those days, we still used White Out to correct typos, using real typewriters, and I used quite a bit of it!

In College
Clerical assistant in the principal's office of a local high school. I worked here 3 of the 4 years I was in college.

Nurse's aide in a nursing home. A depressing summer job. I decided to live on campus one summer in Massachusetts and rode my bike to and from work. Among the patients were a double-leg amputee diabetic who was angry at the world and a 40-something parapalegic wasting his life away in an institution. So sad. I also witnessed another nurse's aide abuse an eldery patient by roughly brushing her scalp when she hardly had any hair.

Home health aide to a homebound man who had progressive MS (how ironic is that?) and was in really bad shape. He used to be a standup comic. I left there on a Friday and returned on Monday to find he had spent the weekend collapsed on the floor, unable to get up. I had to call an ambulance and I learned he later died at the hospital of a brain anyeurism. I was very upset.

After college
Chambermaid at a summer cottage colony on Cape Cod. I also did some babysitting for a rather wellknown NY artist who vacationed there and whose daughter took a liking to me.

Assistant at an art gallery on Cape Cod while I tried to figure out what i wanted to do with my life.

News reporterfor a chain of weekly newspapers. My beat was the towns of Harwich, Dennis and Chatham. I learned an awful lot about newspaper writing and had a good and patient editor who I was able to thank a year or so ago when I found her on Linked In. I knew my towns inside and out and got to know a lot of people. Left to move on to bigger and better things.

News reporter, lifestyles editor and weekly columnist for an afternoon daily in southern NH (covering the Connecticut River valley area of Vermont and New Hampshire). The highlights were interviewing George McGovern and John Glenn when they ran for president in the 1984 NH primary (I also heard Gary Hart speak at a rally), but I won my editor's respect with a front page story/interview of the family of a local teenaged boy charged with a gruesome rape/murder. Decided I wanted to live closer to family in CT and I was also broke, so I left.

Office manager and newsletter editor for a nonprofit conservation group. First job in CT. I won a national award for the newsletter. This job was a lot of fun, varied and very hands-on, but very low-paying. I think I topped out at $25K. Still, I didn't appreciate it at the time. Left becus I needed to make more money. (This is the kind of job that would be PERFECT for me now that I've paid off the mortgage and don't need a high income but do value job satisfaction.)

Writer for a dental trade magazine and fired after just a few weeks when the owner screamed at me because I didn't know how to prepare a package for FedEx pickup. Hey, give me a break...I was a 20-something kid with limited work experience.

Marketing writer for a real estate company. Great boss who loved me. She hired me once, I was laid off, and then 10 years later, she tracked me down and hired me again. I still freelance for them to this day. They're my best client. When I worked on staff, this job offered a lot of variety and was also fun and very creative. I was laid off twice when the real estate market tanked.

Communications manager for an insurance trade group that investigated insurance fraud cases. This was an extremely interesting job. I worked with our own special agents as well as local, state and federal law enforcement to write about successful investigations/prosecutions for the newsletter we pubished and distributed to member insurance companies. Left the job when they relocated to Chicago area.

Marketing copywriter for a company that sold mutual funds and variable annuities. I was there for 7 years. This was really the start of a fairly rapid escalation in income, and this is the job I credit for giving me a really solid foundation in financial services/retirement planning copywriting, as well as a good education that I applied to my own finances. It's the job that lifted me up from a long series of mediocre-paying jobs and enabled me to buy my first house. It was here that I made the most money ever in a single year (and will likely never make again): $130K, due to some well-timed, company-awarded stock options I sold when the company went public. However, the workload was crushing and the commute was awful, 1.25 hrs 1 way. Left when I became burned out by both.

Senior Editor for a startup company that published newsletters for financial planners in the small- and mid-sized 401k market and also sponsored conferences for these planners across the country. Another extremely interesting and varied job. And I had the best ever office. It was a corner office with brick interior walls, plenty of space and my own whiteboard. Really, really nice. The CEO really liked me and gave me lots of autonomy. Too bad the company folded due to cash flow problems.

Writer for a strategic consulting firm working for financial services clients. Probably one of the most challenging jobs I've had. Writing at a very high level for senior executives. Making good money and there for just about 9 months, but then 9/11 happened and laid off about a month after that when many of our clients, some located in the twin towers and personally affected by 9/11, froze current projects; there was a great deal of uncertainty in the financial sector at the time.

Marketing manager for a PR firm specializing in broadcast PR. Fun job, lots to learn. Great boss. Perfect becus it was within walking distance of my house. Laid off after 3.5 years, along with my boss.

Personal finance writer for a consumer website covering topics related to debt, credit and household money management. Loved this job, it was one of the best. Literally wrote hundreds of web articles and blog posts. Laid off with about a hundred others in a third wave of layoffs.

Business content writer for a Fortune 100 insurance/investment company that sells variable annuities. Excellent pay with very nice work conditions. Unfortunately, this was just a contract job and had a short life.

Project editor for a publishing company doing work outside my usual realm, but it was a job. Fired when the editor in chief blew up.

I am thankful to have experienced so many interesting jobs. Can't wait to see what comes next.

Now it's your turn!

6 Responses to “How well do you reinvent yourself?”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    Wow! Very interesting career (and LOTS of layoffs; thank goodness I've only experienced two so far). If I get some time later today, I'll try to do a post that goes through my career. (I like how you list every single job; as I get older my resume lists fewer and fewer of those little ones, so it'll take some reminiscing to get them all in a list.)

  2. Ralph Says:

    I am a pillar of stability and ennui in comparison! Still basically working at the same job I got out of college in 1978! But I have had to change companies a few times due to plant closures. Half way through I was getting bored and ready for a change, but I have since recharged myself and now consider myself lucky to work at what I have always enjoyed.

  3. patientsaver Says:

    Yes, Ceejay, lots of layoffs. Marketing jobs seem to be one of those things that are dispensable when push comes to shove.

    Ralph: Wow. What kind of work do you do? Yes, you are lucky!

  4. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    This could be interesting .. especially if I start with jobs I had in junior high .. Smile

  5. My English Castle Says:

    Wow--I'd rather not think about some of mine. My biggest reinvention was switching from finance to graduate school and then teaching English. I always tell students I left the high-flying world of finance for the much more glamorous, lucrative world of teaching English.

  6. Dido Says:

    You inspired me to make a similar list in my blog. Fun to think back on!

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