All posts tagged: Gig

Day Job: I Was a Heroin Ethnographer

“Our challenge was to find white, upper- and middle-class users and study their usage in order to paint a more realistic portrait of who was using drugs.” (Photo: Adrianna Dufay/TueNight) “C’mon!” my emaciated companion urged, grabbing my arm and speedwalking me towards a nondescript looking apartment building. We had been waiting across the street for the past 10 minutes, looking for some kind of a signal from the gentleman standing in front of the bodega on the corner. I had been trying to decide whether I was more afraid of the police or an angry drug dealer, but I guess while I was busy being paranoid we had been given the all-clear. “Be cool,” Janet hissed as she hurried me on. At one point Janet had been a successful corporate lawyer, but that was many years and countless bags of dope ago. Today, she was a 45-year-old junkie who lived off the largesse of her wealthy Upper West Side family, in a parentally financed apartment a few blocks from where she grew up. We were …

In the Army, Out with PTSD: One Vet’s Story of Survival

Jennifer Crane, today, is able to find peace. (Photo: Damiano Beltrami/Vimeo) Jennifer Crane’s resume should truly read, “been to hell and back.” Enlisting in the army at 17, Crane’s first day of basic training happened to be on September 11, 2001. After deployment to Afghanistan — and suffering through a severe period of depression and dehydration — Crane returned to her hometown of Downingtown, PA in 2003 to a life she didn’t recognize. She battled nightmares, confusion and PTSD. Ultimately drugs beckoned and she distanced herself from family, friends, and began living out of her car. Fast forward 11 years, and Jennifer’s life has drastically changed — for the better. She’s a mom to two kids, works as a nurse, spends much of her time helping other veterans, and even met the First Lady just last month. But her journey was a rough one … How did you spend Memorial Day? I spent it with my family at the park. We just enjoyed the sun and good company. I try not to focus too much …

How Working in Fast Food Prepared Me for Life on a Slippery Floor

Even in fast food, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. (Photo: Wendy Goldman Scherer/TueNight) I have worked as long as I can remember. As a young girl, I used to pull dandelions for my mom at a penny a piece (I only realized as an adult that my parents were paying us to stay out of the house), and I swept the floors and stamped coin envelopes at my family’s magnet factory. It was awesome growing up around all those magnets, but the highlight was the huge piles of flattened packing boxes my brother, sister and I used to climb onto and lounge on. So, maybe we played a little more than we worked. My first real job was in fast food. I worked at Gino’s and for those of you outside the mid-Atlantic region, Gino’s was a regional chain co-owned and named for Gino Marchetti of Baltimore Colts fame. They had the Kentucky Fried Chicken rights around here so (close your eyes and imagine this), KFC and burgers in one place.  I …

Bored at Work? Adopt a Gig Mentality

Summer vacations were one of the best things about college. They provided me with a precious three-month opportunity to explore the working world without consequence – exactly when my appetite for adventure and real-world experience bumped up against the ugly reality of living wages and educational expenses. After my first year in school, I wangled a stipend to explore my passion for non-profits and the law. I volunteered at a major international non-profit sporting organization that planned, organized, marketed and led a weekend summer camp for the athletes. One day a week, I was a lackey at the county courthouse. In spite of organizational challenges, I was a veritable over-eager sponge. I had a burning desire to move faster, produce more and innovate around systemic efficiencies that were of little interest to my seasoned superiors. The whole time, my bright-eyed enthusiasm never waned. The reason? The start of the school year provided a clean break. These three months were a priceless, experience-building window that allowed me to bypass any regrets, resume concerns or awkward goodbyes. …

My Wide Open Mistakes as a Dude Ranch Cook

Jody Jones and her bulging right bicep. (Photo: Jody Jones/TueNight) Ever heard the Dixie Chicks song “Wide Open Spaces“? It goes like this: “Many precede and many will follow A young girl’s dream no longer hollow It takes the shape of a place out west But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed” Sounds inspiring, right? I blame that song for one of the bigger flubs in my life. But, hey, at least it’s a good story now. I was 28 and working as the features editor for a small-town, twice-a-week newspaper in Florida. It was a job I truly loved, but I was living below the poverty level. I supplemented my income by working both retail at Casual Corner and as a cocktail waitress for a cheesy, late-night club called Thunderbirds (seriously). Exhausted working from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., I felt stagnant and thought some fresh, mountain air might do me good. In my younger days I did a good deal of horseback riding — and was a budding chef — …

Margit’s Note: It’s Just a Job I Do…

Laverne De Fazio and Shirley Feeney make their dreams come true. (Photo: Paramount Network Television) We’ve all had weird gigs. Just after college I worked part time at a 19th century natural history museum, preserved as such — the Wagner Free Institute of Science in North Philly — where I did everything from dust off a cabinet filled with arrowheads and tomahawks, to filing William Wagner’s old letters in acid free paper, to drawing butterflies with neighborhood kids who came in after school. Huh. In hindsight, that was actually a pretty awesome job. Sometimes it’s those gigs that have nothing to do with your intended career that were the most fun — or taught you life lessons you’ve carried for decades. Like, to save everything (sorry, hoarders) and that prehistoric bones are very, very fragile. Oops. This week, we’re remembering what made some of the jobs we’ve had curious, fun or just plain bad. We’ve got some pretty intense pieces, some sound job advice, and a few downright hilarious situations, so there’s something here for all types …

Why No One Wants to Go to Your Meeting — And How to Make it Better

If you wrote a better agenda, these seats would be full. (Photo: Freeimages.com) It’s not uncommon to hear a collective groan from your employees when another meeting alert pops up on their calendars. After 10 years in the professional world at every level from assistant to Vice President, I’ve learned firsthand just how much impact a meeting can make. We hope our team leaves a meeting excited, inspired and ready to work, but I’ve also sat through meetings where an associate actually fell asleep on their laptop. Not good. It can be taxing having to step away from daily tasks, but more importantly, badly run meetings can severely hamper productivity. After years of being over scheduled myself, I’ve learned a few tips to help make meetings and check-ins smarter and productive — not just an hour wasted during the work day. Be Selective One of the biggest pain points of meetings is that there’s simply too many people in them. Invite only the crucial members of each team, the ones who truly need to be …