Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How Many Jobs...?

Rachel Fox posted about the many different things she's done in her life so far and it got me to thinking about all the different paths that I've persued over my years too. So here goes...

Tile painter: 1986. My first proper job. I worked in a studio over a tile shop with a graphic designer whose job it was to print patterns on tiles. My job was to paint in the tiny leaves and petals on the prints before the tiles were fired in a kiln. I remember the first week, dreaming every night about all the leaves I had to get just right.

Kitchen designer: 1988ish. After a draughting course, I worked in a kitchen showroom, taking the measurements that the salesmen brought in, designing a kitchen and then pricing it up, from the rough drawings that were brought back from clients. The difference between a dear kitchen and a cheap kitchen lies in the choice of doors.

Hotel room sales: 1989ish. I moved to London in 1989-90 and this was the first job I got, answering queries from travel agents booking hotel rooms for their customers... I can still remember how we answered the phones - 'Superbreak MiniHolidays....' in a sing-song sort of voice. No computers in those days, we worked off pages with small blocks that you marked off!

Press Reader: 1990 -94ish I moved on and got this unlikely job reading newspapers for a client index that was kept on a computer, so the first job I had that involved them. I really loved reading the papers in such depth, although it was knackering reading so much stuff every day. Nowadays it's done by computer. Longest job length too, I lasted until 1993/94 when my eldest son was born & I decided that Ireland might be a better option to rear him. I became very handy with a pair of scissors.

Press Reader #2: On returning to Ireland I managed to get the same job with a Dublin based employer. Not as well-paying as it had been in London, but that was the difference between the two countries at the time. I loved travelling to Dublin every day.

Litho Technician: 1995 I left the previous job to go to a well known micro-chip producer - great job, great pay, great prospects... but I was pregnant with child #2 and after maternity leave and returning to work, I got pregnant with child #3! Not much chance of me staying there :( I don't mind, the white suits we had to wear inside the room where the work was done were a real pain to put on, not to mention being hot all the time from the 22 degree temperature they kept it at (at least that's how I remember it).

Newsletter Editor: 1997 After child #3 I really wanted to go back to work, but knew that part-time was really the only option. So I worked in a local arts centre. Although the job description was Newsletter Editor, I had to muck in on reception for evening activities and it helped me to cement relationships with the writing/theatre/art community in my locale. I still have friends from that time that I cherish. I had really taken writing seriously for the first time too around this time, and a first pamphlet of poems got published too, thanks to a grant from that arts centre. Ah, God be with the days...

Receptionist/Bookkeeper: 2003-4ish. So, there were the twins, followed by the baby of the family, which meant a huge gap in proceedings. But in 2003 I got a position as a receptionist for a community organisation that worked with underpriviledged women. The supervisor recognised my potential and got me to train up as a bookkeeper. I discovered that numbers were a lot easier than I remembered and really flew at this job, until our family relocated to another town in 2005.

Civil Servant: 2006. I only lasted four months at this, as I was juggling six kids, studying for a degree coupled with a two hour commute to Dublin... I loved the job, but just couldn't keep everything going... so something had to give.

Telephone customer representative: late 2006. Part time hours in the evening meant that I could sort of juggle this one around, but it was more of a stop-gap to earn sponduligs to pay the fat red man at Christmas.

Administration Assistant: 2007... again only lasted four months at this job. I loved the work, but everything started to fall apart at home again, so I naturally caved again.

2009 - I have a couple of CW classes on the go, which might help pay for the children's books going back to school in September (if I don't need to plug any financial gaps before then), but not a lot else. I am looking for something, but I think most employers see my CV as being a bit patchy/higgledy piggledy these days... So that makes about eleven or twelve jobs, if you count the current position... no, these are not really the sort of thing that you write down when you're young and say, 'When I grow up, I want to be...'

21 comments:

Rachel Fox said...

A CV/job history can be bent to say anything you want it to in my experience (well almost). I tend to think they're a bit like a creative writing project...you decide which story you want to tell and then you get the 'facts' to fit the job you have in your sights.
I am good at getting jobs...not so good at doing them every day!
x

BarbaraS said...

'My whole life is a creative writing project'... I really must try that one on my next job app, Rachel - thanks :)))

Rachel Fox said...

I have worked on 'creative' CVs for a quite a few friends (no lying...just being selective and carefully descriptive...).
Getting someone else to look at a CV is a good idea, I think. Someone else will see strengths where we only see our own weaknesses, someone else sees variety of experience where we see flakiness or lack of any kind of plan!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Don't tell peope da troot fer feckx sake tell 'em wot dey want to hear,then everbody's happy innit?

BarbaraS said...

Tell you what, Rachel, next time around I'll come to you - you should be charging for the service!

TFE - the truth, even I can't handle the truth!

Women Rule Writer said...

I've had tons of jobs, too, mostly books related (library assistant, bookseller, arts administrator, translator, as well as the usual waitressing and shop stuff earlier on). I always wanted to write full time but it's damn hard to make a living at it; readings and CW teaching don't really pay the bills. But the thoughts of the workplace again makes me feel ill...
I think a wide variety of jobs helps with writing. You get to meet all kinds of characters.

BarbaraS said...

That's the thing, WRW, writing full time doesn't put bread on t'table, so I'm always wondering what else I should do to help... but when you factor in the kidlings, it's not all that doable. The people you meet whilst working, well yes, they are characters of course :)

I think I've just got wee dose of the January blues, which is not being helped by this head cold I have... Roll on February, La Feile Bride!

Dominic Rivron said...

You've got me reflecting on the past, too. Social worker, charcoal burner, music teacher...

Doing different jobs, one ends up with such a weird collection of knowledge/expertise. I mean, who needs a musician with a social work qualification and a chainsaw certificate?

Liz said...

Barbara, I really like the variety here - yet the jobs all have the creativity and flexibility element in common... nowadays we are not meant to be one-job people - I'd read into this job history that you are someone who has the personal resources to rise to the occasion and do so originally...I have had quite a few jobs too(loft-insulation saleswoman in London being the most 'demanding'- lasted two weeks...; ) ) and I've walked away from jobs that may have been paying well but which were impinging on my sanity! ; )
x

Rachel Fox said...

Between us all we could do just about everything...everywhere!
x

BarbaraS said...

There you go, a skills co-op. Dominic your chain-saw wielding musician would be able to analyse the social defects of the audience he was playing for, and perhaps put them out of their misery..?

That sounds like a story in itself!

And Liz, you could insulate us with poetry books, whilst WRW translated it all into many different languages... a book tower of Babel...?

Rachel could capture the whole scene very creatively and get us all jobs!

And I'd try not to sneeze on everyone :)

Duke Of Venice said...

i've had all kinds of jobs too. over fifty. started picking spuds in 1984 for an august. then a bar. then a bakery. then a bookshop....

now i teach writing like everybody else

but i'd like to be a vegetable farmer.



dave lordan

Kay said...

I think as writers we are always trying to find the perfect job to fit with the writing - something that supports our habit! As we say in the Antipodes - 'It's a hard road trying to find the perfect ...' in this case - job.

BarbaraS said...

There's a common theme emerging here with the writers and I think Kay's got it right, we want to work to support the habit.

From what I hear, Dave, you're one of the most exciting teachers of CW around ;) Growing vegetables might not be the worst job given the CEC.

Frances said...

Show me the woman that doesn't have a patchy CV and I'll show you a woman with no husband or children - or a woman who tells a few porky pies!

BarbaraS said...

Heh, Frances, you've nailed it :)))

Debi said...

Yep - my past is equally varied workwise.

We may not have said as kids that was how we wanted it to be, but such is a life, eh?

I have an urge to talk to you about this in detail. Isn't it nearly time for another trip to London???

BarbaraS said...

Funny you should say that... I think I should be alright!

Bernardine Evaristo said...

Lots of life-work experience for your writing! You don't need to have lived and interesting life to be a good writer, but I certainly think it can be an advantage. Btw - did you see that programme on large families last night? 10 or more children? I only caught the end (My mum missed out by two kids.) The largest was in the UAE and a one-legged man had about 80 children by X number of wives. Less interesting, though, than the Catholic Spaniard couple who had 18 (I think), 16 of whom survived.

BarbaraS said...

No I missed it, Bernardine, I'm hoping I might see it on More 4... that Spanish couple sound interesting...

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