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Every job I've ever had: part 10.

Every job I've ever had: part 10.

Heading home with my tail tucked between my legs, losing my job was just the beginning of a year and a half free fall in my life. Sure, there were bright spots, but I remember it feeling like the hits just kept coming, both personally and professionally. I was fresh out of grad school and rather than jump back into the job market, which was just starting to turn around post-recession, I decided to take my severance check and blow it on a trip to the West Coast. I traveled from Seattle to San Diego mostly alone, traversing the terrain and stopping along the way to see the sights. When I got back, I started freelancing, not knowing what that meant (or how to get work). Here’s what that looked like:

Job #16 - Freelance jack of all trades.

  • Age at time of employment: 26-27

  • Qualifications: Previous work experience and/or existing connections.

  • Employer: Self.

  • Application process: Varied.

  • Onboarding: N/A.

  • Training: None.

  • Pay rate: Varied.

Around this time, I had about four clients. Two of which were my parents’ companies, while the others included a hair extensions company that wanted blog content, a contingent of older women who needed help using their computers and some guy who hired me to watch his kid and then convinced me to try and sell his book about swing music to a publisher — big money. Underemployed to say the least, I spent a lot of this period visiting schools around the country hoping to get into a Ph.D. program for History. I’ll save that saga for another post and focus on the freelancing. I knew I needed a steady gig or two to sustain this lifestyle, which led me back to my trusty friend, Craigslist.

Job #17 - LBJ expert.

  • Age at time of employment: 26-27

  • Qualifications: Undergraduate and graduate studies in History.

  • Employer: Professor Charles M. Haar

  • Application process: Craigslist to the rescue once again.

  • Onboarding: Handoff from a previous editorial assistant.

  • Training: On the job.

  • Pay rate: $25/hour.

Remember how I mentioned the bright spots? This was one. Somehow I stumbled across a job posting for an editorial assistant right around July 4, 2010. I’m not sure why I remember that but I do. The gig was 20+ hours a week, supporting an emeritus Harvard Law School professor writing a book about someone he used to work for, a man named Lyndon Baines Johnson. The kid who held the job was leaving for grad school and needed to find his replacement ASAP. The professor was near 90 and lived with his wife, also a professor and the first woman ever tenured at Princeton. To say I was in awe would be an understatement.

Over the next year, I spent hours with both of them, even traveling to Miami in the winter to continue our work. The book explored LBJ’s Great Society programs, from the perspective of the professor who had served as Undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development during the administration. My days focused on the things I enjoy doing most: writing, researching and editing. Unfortunately, time wasn’t on our side and work ended when both of the professors passed away within a year of one another. Back to the job boards (and back to the city), I went.

Next up: flirting with celebrity.

Weekend coffee #67.

Weekend coffee #67.

Weekend coffee #66.

Weekend coffee #66.