I started my first job roughly a week after I turned 16; I was a hostess at an Italian restaurant in Fort Wayne. This was a fairly normal work life beginning when compared to most people my age. (I started baby sitting at 12. It still shocks me that people let 12 year old children watch their children, but the $5/hour was sweet.) Since that first tax paying job I’ve had … 11 different jobs/employers. So, I’ve amassed skills and experiences that can’t fit on a one-page resume, but have impacted me – and my work. I imagine this isn’t uncommon among my peers. Due to the high rate of “malemployment” (recent graduates, or anyone really, employed at a job below their skill level) I think it’s important to keep these back-burner skills in mind. I might have to start weed whacking things again, who knows. I now wish to share with you some bullet points from stints as a receptionist, a data entry typing zombie, a grounds crew worker at a steel mill, an intern for the Indiana Pacers, a stitcher in a costume shop, a seamstress/tailor at an alterations shop, a teaching assistant, a collections assistant at a clothing and textile museum, a retail worker and absolutely some skills from my experience as a professional intern (that’s my title and I’m sticking to it). Now for my extended resume:
•Proficient in weed whacking, including loading string, gas mixing and operation of the machine
•Expert in Safety Yellow painting of dangerous industrial surroundings, not expert in scrubbing said “Marine and Industrial Coating” flecks off skin
•Comfortable around and not easily spooked by heavy machinery, including heavy machinery that happens to be carrying molten things
•Comfortable working in creepy basement-level merchandise warehouses of well-known Indiana sports arenas
• Proficient in acting like a normal human being when confronted with Indiana legend Larry Bird in the hallways of Indiana sports arenas
•Efficient and timely execution of anything you can do at Kinkos, especially binding and copying
•Expert-level errand runner, especially for play money, citrus fruits, wine gift baskets, post office needs, gigantic poster delivery, anything a Verizon store has to offer and acting as temporary pizza delivery person
•Comfortable working with Civil War-era artifacts and creepy fur clothing that is over 100 years old and has eyes that follow you as you pack it in acid-free tissue paper in acid-free boxes while wearing white cotton gloves over perfectly clean hands that are stripped of any natural and viciously-destructive-to-textiles oils
• Experienced in grading projects at the college level, and remaining impartial as you must, even when students are terrible snots (As we all were from time to time.)
•Maintains sanity and fine motor skills even when faced with two months of 60-hour work weeks sitting at a sewing machine surrounded by black velvet, sequins that break and hit you in the eye and theater people
•Maintains sanity and fine motor skills even when faced with clients who change sizes at every fitting and a custom-tailored jacket that is taken apart every other week
•Expert level phone answering and call screening skills to the point of answering personal phone with “Good afternoon (insert company name here)”
•Skilled in keeping cool during holiday season retail, even when plagued with more glitter and more Christmas Muzak than any human should ever need to endure
Bottom line, this list is random. It shows the, um, diverse background I’ve had. It also shows how hard I’ve worked. I’m guessing any 20-something I know could crank out a list of ridiculous things they do well because they’ve also weed whacked or alphabetized so many times their head will explode, or organized someone else’s Rolodex from a brown paper lunch bag of business cards. While we’ve been waiting to join the workforce, we’ve been a part of it. We’ve been a part of the kind of shitty part of it. I’m guessing my compatriots are just as ready as I am to use the transferable skills we have gained – such as perseverance, adaptability, a willingness to be clever, an incredible “don’t sweat the small stuff” capacity, and the humility, sense of humor, and drive to be awesome at your crappy job because it’s the one you have.
References available on request.