My First Seven Jobs

There’s a meme going around to describe your first seven jobs – I think it started on Twitter but you can read great ones in blog form over at Catherine’s blog and Nicole’s blog. So thought I’d list mine here, because I know how much the children are going to cherish my blog-based memories in the future (ha ha!), or at least, I will go down as a legendary diarist like Mackenzie King and above all things, I want to be complete about it.

(Side note: I took the kids to Laurier House last week, along with a tour of all the embassies in the area so we could do flag naming, and it was actually a much better field trip than it sounds – the staff at Laurier House are adorable and enthusiastic. Anyway, there was a plaque there with a diary entry of King’s where he talked about his recent weight gain, then, as a side note, mentioned that Churchill had just declared war, and I could not stop giggling about the comparative importance of the two. Huh. Guess you had to be there.)

So! My first seven jobs:

1. Babysitter, of course – I got roped into this under duress when my Super Babysitter older sister got a real job at a pizza place, and one of her faithful clients begged me to fill in. I was a terrible babysitter, in that I had no sense of responsibility or authority, but I was also a very popular babysitter in that I would actually play with the kids. It definitely was not my calling, though.

2. Library page at my high school – In junior high I was a favourite of the school librarian, who was a friend, I think, of my mother’s, and she put together a small team of girls to help shelve books at recess time. When I got to high school I went into the library to ask if they needed any shelving help, because I’d really enjoyed not having to go outside for recess, and it turns out they did, and also that it was an actual paying position. I got the job and loved it and did this for minimum wage for a few hours a week after school during my Grade 9 year.

3. Textbook Girl – After my first year I was stolen away from the library by the English department at my high school, who employed two girls throughout the year and the summer to manage all the textbooks in the school. My job was to receive new books and stamp them with the school stamp; hand out books in September and as needed throughout the year; collect them in June and inventory them; then spend the summer repairing the covers of ripped or worn books.

It was THE BEST JOB EVER. I had a master key to the school and my own office – a special wood-floored room on the third floor just filled with books from top to bottom, with a big bay window that looked out on the lawn. My co-worker, Sheila, became one of my all time best friends and she and I would hide away in the book room every lunch hour, reading and eating in the window seat. I think I read every book in that room – all the great works of literature – and never had to go outside for recess once. In the summer, we worked completely unsupervised and had the full run of the school – there was no one else there but the janitors, who were sweet and kind to us. We’d get a record player from the library and sit in a room doing repairs and rocking out and occasionally exploring the big old school, which was kind of like a castle and built in the 1850s. It was marvelous.

4. Bank Teller – The summer after my last year of high school I had to sadly give up the Textbook Girl job, as I was no longer a student, and I needed to make some money to pay for university. My good friend Erica had a mom who worked at a bank, and she got me the highly coveted job of bank teller, a job that paid very well and involved working indoors and watching Days Of Our Lives in the breakroom at lunchtime. I only worked there for a few months before quitting because I was moving away to university, but I learned a lot. Also, I now cross my 7s, a source of eternal confusion to my children.

5. IBM Co-Op student – I did co-op in university, which meant four months of school alternating with four months of work for 4 2/3 years. My first three co-op terms were spent at IBM in Markham, doing a little programming and a little training and a lot of goofing around with the other co-op students. It was pretty glamourous, living in Toronto and making big bucks and taking the subway to work.

6. Financial Models – My last co-op term was at a company in Toronto that did financial management of mutual funds for banks and large retirement funds. They were a small company and they gave me a ton of freedom to design and build my very own piece of software and man, I loved it there so much. After I graduated I went on to work there full time (with my own co-op student – my sister FameThrowa). It was a great experience but I left it to get married and move to Ottawa.

7. Small Local Programming Company – I’ll leave this company nameless because they were just terrible. The worst job I ever had. This was the first job I had in Ottawa after moving here, a small software company that made their own programming language for the purpose of large-scale document formatting. The management there – a husband and wife team who had founded the company – was just the worst. You know how when you get hired somewhere, there’s usually a clause in the contract that says they can dismiss you within the first 3 months’ probationary period without cause? That’s usually just in case of a terrible fit, or they found out you lied or something. I’ve never seen it actually used anywhere else I’ve ever worked, but at Company X, it was enforced all the time. They’d take people on, and at the 2.5 month mark, decide they weren’t working out, and fire them. Parents with kids left good jobs to come there, only to be randomly fired after two months. People were always coming and going and no one was safe, and they never warned anyone when hiring them that this was just a trial thing and so people were blindsided and devastated and it was just terrible.

In the meantime, having narrowly survived my own probationary period, I had literally NOTHING to do – this was when I started blogging, out of desperation for something to keep me busy, and I’d often spend my whole days blogging or reading blogs. There were like, three people in the company that the CEO liked, his chosen ones, and they did ALL the work. They’d be running around all day long, working on 10 different projects, but no one else was allowed to help or do anything because the CEO didn’t trust them, so instead the rest of us just did nothing. It was a crazy, toxic environment.

I worked there for just over a year before being rescued by Nortel, and I think we all know how that worked out – but at least it was a pretty great place to work while it lasted.

What were your first seven jobs?

11 thoughts on “My First Seven Jobs

  1. MrsCarlSagan

    1. Babysitting – $1 an hour and $1.50 after midnight 🙂

    2. Mother’s Pizza – my first job with a paycheque. I lasted 3 months. I was a “counter girl’. We made everything other than the pizzas. I hated every moment of it. I was 15 years old I think.

    3. Chubby’s Pizza – I was here a couple of years. It was a small family owned business a two minute walk from my house. i loved it.

    4. Suzy Shier – I worked here 5 years and the minimum wage I earned somehow paid for most of my university education. I really liked the retail environment and made good use of my employee discount.

    5. Government of Canada – Census Representative. i did this for a few months one summer during the Census. I had to deliver census forms to a few hundred homes. We couldn’t just drop them in the mailbox, we had to ring every door bell and talk to everyone and explain how to fill out the form blah blah blah. Then when the forms were mailed in, the ones i delivered were given back to me and I had to check them for completeness and make phone calls to obtain missing info. Also had to go back to those homes that didn’t return the forms and try to get them to do it. It paid well, but I hated it. Some people were nice, some not so much. I was also working at Suzy Shier at the same time and I remember it feeling quite overwhelming. I was so glad when it was finished,

    6. Bell Canada – my first job out of University. I began in Waterloo and then moved to Ottawa. I was here 10 years. Mostly liked it. I did well and moved steadily up the ladder. Then I “retired” and stayed home with babies for ten years.

    7. Current – Office Assistant in an elementary school in the public school board. Love, love, Love it.

    1. First let me say: Mother’s Pizza was SO GOOD. My grandparents would take us there as a special treat sometimes and I remember it being the best pizza ever. Nothing else will ever live up to it. I would have gained 100 pounds easily after working there for three months – you dodged a bullet, I think:).

      Also: $1 an hour for babysitting! I wish I could remember what I was making. My one and only job was during the day, for 8 hour shifts, and I had to both change diapers and make meals, so I think I got $3 an hour. A FORTUNE.

      And lastly: SO happy you love your current job. It suits you to a T. Speaking of which, did you hear that Mr. Smith retired?

      1. MrsCarlSagan

        Mother’s Pizza really was the best wasn’t it? We went there too for special occasions. I remember being really surprised when I started working there that people actually ordered items from the menu that weren’t pizza.

        As for babysitting, I didn’t do it a lot and mostly it was evenings, babies already in bed, no diaper changing or feeding, just me getting paid to eat snacks and watch tv. Sweet gig really.It may have been 1.50$ and hour and $2 after midnight… not sure.

        I did hear about Mr. Smith. He retired last March I think.

  2. You’ve got me digging deep on this one, trying to remember what jobs I did and when (and for how much…babysitting: $2 an hour, $2.50 after midnight!) Does it count if you only lasted one shift? I feel my own blog post coming on! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. smothermother

    that textbook girl job sounds awesome! we never had anything like that at my high school. I would have been all over that one.

  4. OMG, I can’t believe MrsCarlSagan got to work at MOTHER’s PIZZA! Soooo jealous. I’ll never forget the smell of that place. It’s what my heaven would smell like.

    Onto the meme:

    0. Taking inventory at a card store. Just for one day, so I’m putting it at number zero.

    1. Public library page, shelving books. Pretty good bunch of students working there. Got to read a lot of magazines on breaks. Didn’t have to spend summer outside or socializing. Didn’t read many books, any yet that’s the #1 thing people said to me when they found I worked there (“oh? You must read a lot of books.” #douchbag). Bonuses: got good at author trivia, memorized the Dewey decimal system (641: cookbooks, 629: automotive, 820: poetry, etc)

    2. Public library page, back room and automation. At the library, these were clearly two different jobs, but I’ll combine them so I don’t bore the reader. The first was mending books and covering the new books, which I got super fast at. I also did a bunch of archive photocopying. Even better than job one since I still got to read mags on break and stay inside, only now I didn’t have to talk to the public. The automation summer I spent fixing the online catalog’s data entry mistakes and managing system back ups. I’d spend entire day’s not talking to a soul. #introvertsdream

    3. Basics office supplies. Stocked stuff, sold expensive pens, took order for custom stamps, etc.

    4. Worked for Turtlehead at Financial Models. She made me fold her laundry and give her pedicures. 😉 (it was really a programming job. Big sis wanted to make sure I got a real jump, not one where I’d be stuck getting coffee or doing IT support. Thanks!) I did that for the first 2 of my 6 work terms in Uni.

    5. Televitesse. Programming. One of the many Newbridge spin offs. While at that work term, they moved into a renovated old school across from Museum of Civilization. I could bike there from my little apartment in Sandy Hill.

    6. Qualcomm. Programming. I figured, if I’m going to work, why the hell stay in Canada? I snagged a job here in San Diego thanks to a guy at Televitesse, whose dad was a VP at Qualcomm. learned that you have to like your job, even if everything else rocks.

    7. Microsoft. The coveted co-op position for all of us UWaterloo CS nerds. The guy who hired me said he picked me because I was really enthusiastic. It was a product manager job, on the Redmond campus, not programming, and while there I got to shadow the User Researchers a bit, which is where I found my calling. Oh, and got to have dinner on Gates’ back lawn. They treated their co-ops real good.

  5. Such a cool post! That book repair job sounds like the beginning of a great movie when they spend a bit of time building the main character’s bio when they were young. You know the kind that often open with a narrative: ” that was the summer that changed it all…” If you ever decide to write a novel, that would be an awesome beginning :).

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