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  • Writer's pictureAngie Dotson


Updated: Feb 5, 2021

My second weekly writing assignment has me reflecting on work. The jobs I've had and how they've led me to where I am now in my career and life.

As many teenagers do, I started my working life as a babysitter when I was 14. I was paid to wake up early and sit with the kid two doors down before school and get him on the bus. Easy peasy. The second year they added a cousin to the mix, and the job actually became a JOB. Peeling two brawling boys off each other every morning for 2 hours wasn't my idea of fun.

My first real job was waitressing at a pizza place that was experimenting with the idea of having waitresses on staff. I learned a lot in those 6 weeks before they decided waitresses were an unneeded expense after all. I was far from heartbroken. Waitressing is not my thing.

During my Junior and Senior years of high school I honed my customer service skills as a cashier in a small grocery store. I made some friends and enjoyed it for the most part. I actually still have dreams about working at that Market. It feels like it wasn't long ago at all, yet a different life at the same time.

When I graduated high school, I decided I wanted to do something different for my summer before college. I thought it might be fun to work outside - at a garden center or something. So I applied a few places and wound up spending 6 weeks at a commercial greenhouse, making minimum wage (it was $5.15 at the time!), getting in the best shape of my life from the manual labor, and eventually having to quit because the pesticides and heat were making me physically ill. It wasn't so enjoyable, but I did learn a lot in those few weeks. There were people - grown, adult people working there as their life's career, making and living off of that tiny wage. I still don't know how they did it. There was much more to life than the slice I had been exposed to thus far.

After all that, I decided it was time for a nice, clean, (air conditioned) job :) I applied with a temp agency and wound up at an insurance processing company in a data entry position. I sat in a 4x4 cubicle in the middle of a sea of cubicles, updating car insurance policies. It wasn't the most exciting job, but it turned out to be the perfect job for my next two years as I was going to school full time and this place allowed me to change my hours every semester as my schedule changed. I honed my typing skills and learned a little about working in an office. Meanwhile, I was working towards my Associates of Graphic Design at the local college.

Shortly after I graduated with my degree, I found an entry level design job at a small newspaper. It didn't pay much, but it was exactly what I needed to get going in my field. I didn't know it at the time, but this would become my second home for the next 11 years. Eventually, I would step into the Graphics Manager role, and make some of the best friends I've ever known there. The paper I worked for was part of a larger corporation and eventually made some decisions that would shut down my department. They offered me the opportunity to keep a job, but commute an hour away from home. I still don't know why I took the job, besides the discomfort associated with change and possibly some feelings of self-doubt. Regardless, I wound up commuting for 2.5 years, becoming the manager of that Graphics Department as well, until they decided to shut down that department as well...

I sat at home with my kiddos for a month that summer, applying to as many jobs that I could without hearing much back. One day, while I was at a doctor appointment with my daughter, I received a "head hunter" call from a non-profit in a nearby town who was opening a Print Shop. They had found a really old resume of mine online and called to see if I'd like to interview. I went in, interviewed, and even though I had very little experience with the actual printing process, I got the job!

Seven years later, I'm still there. The shop has grown to include 3 others besides myself and grown exponentially over the years. I've learned more in the last seven years than all the other years of my career combined. There's something about knowing the entire process of creating something tangible that I've found to be really fulfilling. From the moment a client calls with a vague idea of a print project, to the design, layout, setup, printing, folding/cutting/binding or whatever the job calls for, and delivering to the customer, I've learned it. And I enjoy it for the most part.

Ideally, someday down the road, I'd like to be able to do the print shop thing part time to free up more time and energy for my photography. Maybe my hubby and I will someday own and run a wedding venue. The goals are vague, but sitting there in the back of my brain. Hopefully someday the time will be right and what I've done up til now will lead to something even greater.

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