Monday, January 16, 2012

Job Journal: Student Assistant, UT's Alumni Association

The United States workforce is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: those who plan on keeping their job for the long haul, and those who are biding their time before becoming the Next Big Thing. These are stories from the second group.

Job: Student Assistant at the Alumni Association, University of Tennessee

Duration: 1.6 years

Year: 2/02-10/02, 12/02-October 03

This was the first job I got through a recommendation, and the first of several jack-of-all-trades positions. A secretary at the Honors Department was friends with a secretary at the Alumni Association. I had come back from Christmas break with no intentions of returning to the library, which surprised my supervisors there. I was weakly sending out feelers for jobs and this came back to me.

It was typical office busywork: filing, mailing, lots of things involving paper. It was, and still is, located in the Tyson Alumni House on campus. It's a beautiful house that's been on that site since the late 1800s. I worked out of a big room with five secretaries, all hardcore East Tennesseeans. I learned two oddities of East TN grammar there: you'uns, a variant of y'all (the thickest of accents would rhyme "you'uns" with "buns"), and "I don't care to do that" with the meaning of "Yes, I would be happy to do that." I would interpret the latter as "I don't care for you and I don't want to do that job." But hey, what do I know? Kind of a lot, actually.

They were all great women to work with. I think they lived vicariously through the students who worked in the office (there were sometimes up to four of us in there) and they always took an interest in what we were doing with ourselves. One of the secretaries, Michelle, kept a candy drawer, and she occasionally brought in homemade beef jerky. I've never had better. This mama's boy handily made the transition from living at home to living on his own and working with five surrogate mothers.

The best part of the job was the state car. I have fond memories of cruising around on various errands listening to the radio, in no particular hurry. We started with a Chevy Malibu, and moved up later to a bigger Dodge. We'd use it mostly for on-campus mail runs or other various deliveries, but sometimes we'd get to drive across town to the university's mail facility. Depending on traffic, you could count on up to an hour of hanging out in the car listening to the radio. I became very familiar with Mancow's morning show at this job. The car also got me into trouble a few times, but more on that in future posts.

Overall I enjoyed this one, though I remember feeling a little stagnant after I'd been there a while. I stayed on well after graduation and really had no business at a job like that as an "adult," but the die was firmly cast in favor of acting so anything else I moved on to would just be killing time as well.

I left this job for two months to work at a call center, which was of course a huge mistake.

In future posts, as mentioned, I'll tell you about that car trouble as well as what this job taught me about walking into new buildings, how the RIAA probably could have prosecuted our office, and how I got black lung.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's an actor and writer.

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