My first job was in high school at the Marion County YMCA . My family had been members of the YMCA since I was in the 5th grade. My brother and I spent so much time participating in sports and activities there that we, amongst a few other kids like us, were classified by the YMCA employees and staff as ‘Y brats’. Eventually my family moved to a neighbor near the YMCA which inevitably led to even more time spent at the YMCA. My brother and I could now ride our bikes or walk to the YMCA without depending on our parents. The YMCA staff begin to know us by our given names. During high school, I decided it was time to find a job. I was craving independence. I was tired of asking my parents for money. I wanted to be able to afford to go to the movies with my friends. I dreamed of driving around aimlessly in my hand-me-down Jeep Cherokee without worrying about gas money. Yet, I didn’t know how to find a job! Would someone hire me? Did I have any valuable skills other than scoring a goal in soccer?
One day at the gym, I started talking about the idea of finding a job with my fellow ‘Y Brats’. The conversation accomplished very little since none of the Brats had ever had a job. However, one of the trainers having overheard the conversation, approached me right before leaving the gym. He (Tony, who I will never forget) suggested I apply for a job at the YMCA. I was there all the time and everyone who worked there liked me. What a great idea! How did I not think of that? I applied for a Summer Camp Counselor position. The process started with me filling out an application; a paper application with an actual ink pen! I remember filling it out thinking: “don’t screw up” and “don’t misspell anything”. For a week I prayed to every spiritual being possible. I had to get this job! I was called for an interview seven torturous days later. I had a full week to practice for my first interview. My Mom took me shopping for dressy clothes. My Dad practiced interviewing me in the evening at the kitchen table.
Needless to say on the day of the interview my stomach was in knots. The interview consisted of a three person panel. Since I had zero working experience each interviewer asked a few questions about school, my extracurricular activities, and my general interests. I was able to answer all the questions just like I practiced with my father. I was personable and upbeat. But was I too personable? Was I took over the top? It was another week before I received a call informing me to go to the police department to complete fingerprinting and a background test. Then I was instructed to go to a lab to complete a drug test. My mother went with me to make sure I filled the paper work at both places correctly. It’s funny to look back now and remember how young and naive I was; I didn’t know my social security number or how to fill out a W-4. Two long weeks later I was finally a YMCA employee! I trained with the other counselors for three months before the summer camp began. We were trained in First Aid, CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and how to use a defibrillator. Management began to notice my eagerness to work hard and desire to be successful. The Director called me into his office one day. In my entire academic career had never been to the Principal’s office, but after a month of work I was going to the head honcho’s office! I thought for sure I did something wrong which made me absolutely sick with worry. However, the Director wanted to personally praise my work ethic and encourage me to consider training for other positions within the company. By the beginning of summer not only was I a camp counselor, I was also a lifeguard, child care worker, coach, soccer referee, front desk receptionist, and gym assistant. There was also talk of certifying me to teach fitness classes. It was a very exciting time in my young life. I was working and growing ALREADY. Doors were opening for me in places I never expected. People believed in my abilities. My confidence was higher than ever before. I really could do anything if I worked hard enough…
Finding work after college was a different story. Honestly, I cannot remember the interview that landed me my first job after college because there were just so many interviews. I graduated from college during the recession. Everyone was losing jobs while I was desperately trying to find one. I was competing against seasoned workforce veterans for entry level jobs. On top of that jobs were leaving Ocala. The recession caused several companies in Ocala to go out of business. I went on several interviews before I landed my job as a title clerk at a used car dealership. I don’t remember the process for this position at all. I am not sure who interviewed me or what was asked. I don’t remember having to do any special tests or a background check. All I really remember is feeling relief that I would finally have a paycheck. After all, that student loan wasn’t going to pay itself!