Humble Beginnings

November 16, 2010 at 7:36 am | Posted in Career Moves | 5 Comments
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I ran into a former boss of mine the other day on the train. I know what you are thinking — this can’t be good, but it was.  We had left off on good terms, though the company was really saddened to see me go.  Anyways, I had been meaning to catch up with her, but alas life always seems to get away from us.  We caught up on our way to our respective destinations and she gave me great compliments and told me how much I was missed at my old company.  Sometimes, you have to move on from a place to see how much you were appreciated.  Sometimes, you work so hard and feel like you are spinning your wheels, then something or someone reminds you of how far you’ve come.

I had my first job at age 16, working at Dunkin Donuts with several other kids my age.  For 4 months, I served up donuts and coffee and dealt with disgruntled people looking for their caffeine fix, before returning to school for the fall of my junior year.  Working with peers was certainly a blast, but after that experience, I never wanted to work in food service again.  It is really tough work but I had at least grown a healthy respect for those who keep with it.

The rest of my high school employment consisted of childcare gigs, tutoring, and a real short stint in retail.  In college, I continued with childcare work, as well as working at a local gym and a tanning salon on summer breaks.  I also took on two unpaid internships for “real world” preparation.

When I think back on my resume, I do see serious growth.  It’s strange for me to look back at my humble beginnings as I’ve always been so focused on preparing to get ahead for tomorrow. Sometimes, I beat myself up about not moving faster, but the truth is, I am doing pretty damn good for a 27 year old, working through a recession with a damn good job at an appropriate level for my age and experience.  Just ten years ago, I was bagging donuts, now I’m writing, talking to reporters, bumping elbows with CEOs, and making change in kids’ lives and public perspective.  I’m going to continue to work hard to reach my goals but will always remember those who gave me a chance and taught me how to be good at what I do.

Reading Makes Me Good Writer

November 4, 2010 at 7:35 am | Posted in Life and Living | 8 Comments
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Last night, I headed up to Connecticut to meet the author of one of my favorite books (dog lovers, if you haven’t read Ted Kerasote’s Merle’s Door, you are really missing out).  It’s not every day an author hooks me, especially enough to actually want to meet him.  But I was always told, “you have to read in order to be a good writer.”

Guess what?  I hated reading when I was young.  I remember struggling with reading out loud in class (like most kids did) and since I have a terrible fear of being embarrassed, it made things that much worse.  There was one year where I even did my summer reading project on the same book for two years in a row. You couldn’t pay me to read.

When I got to college, I decided to major in English.  I chose English because I wanted to write, and at that point I wasn’t interested in the news so a Journalism major wasn’t fitting.  I wanted to write creatively. I wanted my soul to fllllllyyyyy!  But guess what? There is a lot of reading involved in being an English major — and a lot of it is NOT fun.  I struggled in 17-19th century British literature, but I loved my Shakespeare class.  It was a real give and take, but the major take away for me was a growing enjoyment for reading in general.  I fell in love with Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation (no relation to the movie) and The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston in my Women’s Autobiography class.  I was inspired to start building a collection and continue reading after college.

But I couldn’t pick up Shakespeare when I got home, no matter how hard I tried. I just couldn’t get into the classics on my own.  I could however, easily get through a Dan Brown novel, and fell in love with The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, Lucky and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.  Most recently, I’ve been able to read several Jody Picoult books from start to finish in just a few days.

I love strolling through the book store, so much sounds so interesting! But it’s true in a literal sense that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I need to be drawn in immediately. There’s just too much going on in my life that I get easily distracted.

I always try to read books my dad recommends, but it just doesn’t work.  Everyone has their own taste. I imagine my taste will change as I get older, but one thing is for certain.  I won’t totally give up on reading.  After all, all writers need readers. Gotta represent!

Time Flies When You Love What You Do

July 15, 2010 at 8:05 am | Posted in Career Moves | 4 Comments
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I just wrapped up my company’s annual conference.  It was a professional development conference for educators that featured some special speakers thrown in the mix of sessions.  Our last speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, really stuck out in my mind as being altogether engaging, entertaining, and truly inspiring.

I’ve been thinking a lot about choosing a second career path, not because I’m not happy with what I do, but down the road you just never know what’s going to happen.  What if what I do is not in demand? What else could I do? Here I go, trying to plan again.

Sir Ken Robinson spoke about how learning is an organic, human experience.  It is not linear the way our current system is.  You can’t force someone to learn but you can nurture what they are naturally drawn to.  He is a huge advocate for doing what you love.

After a rigorous week, it’s hard to be optimistic about work. But I do love what I do, I know that.  I love that what I do makes a difference in people’s lives, And you know what else? I love writing this blog. I love giving my readers the words they need to explain how we collectively feel.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — I love to write.

I have some time to think about what I’d want my second career to be, I know.  But I know it will be something I love. Like Sir Ken, I can’t imagine doing something I hate for a living.

Some days may be tough. But I understand the value of hard work.  I will earn everything I make in my life and that is something I will always be proud of.

Here’s a video of Sir Ken, not the speech he did at my conference — still working on that video — but some of the same ideas were brought up. Enjoy!

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