Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How college influenced my career path- Part 2

More answers to the question: How did college help my career? See Part 1.

The summer before my last year of college, I visited my sister in San Jose, California. I was supposed to stay two weeks and then return home to a summer job that I already had lined up in Wyoming. She suggested I try to get a job with a temp agency here in California. I easily got a job. So I stayed for the whole summer.

In Silicon Valley in the late 80s and early 90s, temp jobs were very easy to find and paid well. I worked for two different temp agencies who would send me to work at various tech companies for a few days or weeks at a time. Usually, it was to fill in for an administrative assistant/receptionist who was sick or on vacation. On my second or third job I ended up staying with the same company for the rest of the summer.

This job was for a new R&D department. They were hiring a permanent admin but she couldn't start for a few weeks. The phone rang maybe twice a day and I typed one memo. Since I had nothing to do all day, I played with the computer at my desk. I taught myself how to use Dbase and WordPerfect. I also made friends with the admin to the president/owner of the company. She pointed me to other openings in the company.

When my two week temp job was over, I moved over to fill the position of administrative assistant for the company’s new lawyer. He wanted everything done on computer and the old secretary with technologically phobic, so she left. This job was supposed to last only a few weeks until they hired a full time replacement. This lawyer was very picky. It took him the whole summer to find someone he liked. In the end, they hired the old admin to come back now that all the computer upgrades were done.

While implementing all the new computer upgrades, I worked very closely with the technical support department. I could have gotten a job in the tech department but I made more money as a temp admin to a lawyer.

At the end of the summer, I went back to school and graduated. After graduation, I returned to California and temped some more before taking time off to serve as a missionary. So, I still had not really begun a career.

Two years later when I got back into the job market, I returned to temping. A college degree probably had some benefit on my resume, especially with a two year gap in my employment history. However, I think it was typing speed that got me hired.

I bounced around week after week to different companies learning more and more software. Eventually, I ended up spending a year and a half at Intel as a temp. My last few months, I worked in the international marketing department. The Spanish I learned as a missionary got me that job. I had also taken two years of French in highschool and two years of French in college. I couldn't speak any french, but I could read it. I had to move on because they have laws about how long you can work as a temporary employee before the company has to pay a tax penalty.

My next temp job was at Novell where I worked as an admin in the Education department. There, I ended up writing the manual and then teaching the class for new employees on how to use the company email. The experience I gained from teaching the gospel as a missionary helped me teach email classes. I admit that it felt funny teaching a class without first having an opening prayer.

A few months later, a friend from church got me a job at a startup company that he worked at. With the skills I gained temping, I got my first (and only full time job) with benefits. I started by answering tech support calls for a printer accessory. There I moved in to testing of new products and writing installation manuals, in addition to answering calls. By that time, I was 24 years old and was making good money. I had no debt and was entirely self sufficient.

College gave me some advantage on paper, but that was about it.

For the rest of the story......see part 3.

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christinemm said...

After posing that question to you early this morning I began writing the same thing about my life.

I hope to finish and to publish my own experience tomorrow.

I am enjoying reading what you have written so far.

Janine Cate said...

I liked your question. It really got me thinking.