Friday, June 15, 2007

Conclusion of Brash Young Adult - Part IV

(This is the final part of the first three or so years of my early ventures into full time employment. Scroll down for those three successive posts immediately preceding the special one on "Friendship".)

Brash Brazen Young Adult

These stories of my ventures into the full time employment world as a young adult surprise even me. In retrospect there were more than I initially remembered, my actions seemed more than a bit erratic. Actually, I experienced those times as quite exciting while I was living them. I did also enjoy activities that allowed me some creative expression and social life during those years. While I tired of the routine nature of some of the tasks in my work positions, wanted new challenges, I generally appreciated the moment in my actual day to day activities. I also enjoyed most of the people with whom I was associated. This has been true throughout my life.

I have been able to see the value of what I've been doing. I have been able to refine work tasks when possible, so that each position became worthwhile for me while benefiting my employer. Despite all that, I just wanted to be more challenged in a less predictable environment, have the opportunity to contribute more creatively. Also, I wanted to know there was potential for developing new skills, possibly leading to new and even more desirable positions, to have experiences new and different to me; to believe that what I did mattered.

During these years and what must have been a lull between seeking other positions, I recall I also had an interview with what was then one of the major airlines. My motivation for inquiring about such employment was rather spur of the moment when suddenly the imagined perks of a lot of free travel became very attractive. Airline positions had lots of applicants, were glamour jobs in demand, partially for the reason of lifetime flight benefits. A few weeks later, a letter revealed no offer was forthcoming to me. I was only slightly disappointed, but my ego had me wondering what I was lacking, or if the competition was such there were just too many superior in appearance to me. Those were the days when airline coach travel was more pleasurable in comparison with today's flights. What coach passengers today experience is more like being compressed cargo, or virtually vacuumed packed baggage.

Back then, I had also answered a help wanted newspaper advertisement placed by an employment agency in a major metropolitan area that was a distant (by mid-western standards) two-hour automobile drive from where I was living. They were seeking a promotion manager for one of the television stations in their city. I didn't know much about that local TV because our area didn't receive any stations. There was topography signal interference and cable was just beginning to penetrate such areas. Later I learned the wanted advertisement was for one of three affiliate stations associated with what was then just the three major networks--ABC, CBS, NBC. The agency had obtained an interview for me at the TV station. Following that interview, when I received an offer, I thought, "I must get my 'foot in the door'," so again I too quickly accepted the position through the employment agency.

Then when I got home, I started thinking about that windowless room slightly larger than a closet, with a desk piled high with papers and more strewn about, which would be my office. I recalled the position had been vacant for some time, and thought about why they hadn't promoted from within or hadn't been able to fill the job. Common sense left me with apprehensions. TV positions were highly sought after with lots of competition, usually. Just to work at a TV station was often thought of by many people as quite glamorous work and many wanted to be part of that world. I knew the realities of that partially erroneous perspective. I pictured in my mind, again, that suffocating room environment, knowing I would not tolerate it for very long.

I knew that just getting my foot in the door of the business was important, but I decided I wanted a different door. Years later after becoming quite familiar with all those TV stations, there was no doubt in my mind that I had made the correct decision. Ironically, at a much later date, I had another opportunity to work at that station, but this was the second instance which I described earlier, where I turned down the job, due to the employer's love affair with the bottle which meant lots more work, little additional pay for me.

Back to the first offer through the employment agency. I thought, how silly to go through an employment agency that I would have to pay for finding me this job, when I had just learned there were only a few stations in that market, so why shouldn't I just apply directly to them myself? I did take some liberty when I expanded on the kernel of truth in the story I gave the employment agency for the station, as to why I must regretfully withdraw from that position. I have no idea if they had told the station yet of my acceptance, much less if they had, what the employer's reaction was to my change in plans.

The employment agency representative was very accepting and understanding of my withdrawal, but I'm sure they were not happy. I allowed considerable time to pass, then I sent my letters of application accompanied by a resume as I had begun doing, to all those television station general managers (including the local PBS) except the one where I had previously interviewed. I knew by now, it was the low ranking station of the three.

A resume was rather unusual for a young woman to have prepared and submitted at that time, at least as far as I knew -- something generally only male management executives did. I included samples of some of my commercial writing based on station sponsors I viewed, because by that time cable and television had come to our town. The resultant effect was that I garnered myself an interview at one of the stations where I ultimately was employed.

I have since wondered, whatever was I thinking and doing during those three to four years. My family was not in a position to underwrite me financially. If my bank employer had not generously kept me working, despite my, perhaps, overly self-confident attitude toward leaving, I realize now, I would soon have found myself in dire financial straits, as I had no savings.

Actually, despite all this, after I started work at the TV station weekdays, then drove home every weekend, my old employer invited me to continue working on Saturdays when I came to town. We had bankers hours then, so once the bank closed, at noon on Saturday, the bookkeeping department balanced all the bank accounts for the day, we were free to leave. Usually, I was home by one or two o'clock every Sat. The cost of my commuting was amply covered, in those days when the price of gas was considerably less than a dollar a gallon.

Before starting these employment searches, I had just completed the final payments on a private loan from another family member. Her generosity in those days before federally-backed college loans, had enabled me to attend college in the first place. No doubt this release from that obligation contributed to the euphoria I felt at finally being free of financial debt, coupled with the earlier freedom from emotional entanglement.

Perhaps the confluence of these factors had contributed to the beginning of my restless employment change dance. During those years, I was much like a skiff swept by waves on the rough seas crashing against the rocks in pulsing but erratic movement, forced out to sea, then back to a different spot along the shoreline, by the ever-changing tide of employment waters.

Ah, the brash, brazen, bold risks we take when young.


  1. All that changing made you who you are today, I am sure, and probably stood you in good stead for later jobs. I assume you reached a point where you were more stable in your choices.

  2. Well very interesting. It's probably a good thing we didn't have bungee jumping in our youth. Or on second thought perhaps it would have been better that we did when I consider some of the things I did (non employment wise).

    My how I admire your writing. When reading about your young career experiences I have the feeling of rich personal growth.

  3. kenju: Yes, my approach to employment was altered considerably toward more stability in the future.

    bob: We learn a lot in our youth, employment-wise and other. Sounds like you did, too. I do think I achieved personal growth through those experiences. Thanks for your kind comments.

  4. Great little series, joared. I could relate to so much of it especially the conclusion about "brash, brazen, bold risks". Churned up some thoughts of my own history that I had quite forgotten.

  5. Joared, this brings to mind so many of my early experiences. How things came to be, what was behind decisions, how we felt... you've expressed it so well...

    I just remember flunking the test for typing (was fast but made mistakes) at the temp agency. As a writer, the correct button was my A number one tool.

    Funny how things go, huh?

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