Surviving Corporate America

I got my first full time job when I was 19 years old. I was the receptionist in the showroom of a swimwear company in New York City’s garment center. At the time,my only perspective towards a career was to make money. I hadn’t a clue as to what I wanted to do so I took the path that my mother took by working in the fashion world. The exception was that she was a very talented dressmaker. I was not. My career began behind the front desk doing menial labor; typing agendas, ordering coffee and lunch and greeting stuck-up store buyers and their minions. I answered the incoming phone calls through a switchboard. No talent was necessary just follow these rules – show up on time, do your job and don’t mess up.

In those early years, when I went on an interview it was meant to see if you had the skills needed and if you got along with the hiring manger. The session usually ended knowing if there was a job offer. A few years ago, I applied for a job within my last company and was subjected to an hour long phone interview with someone from another state who was hired to ask a series of questions that had nothing to do with my job. Question: Do you like to clean up after a party? My answer: it depends on what condition I am in.

In between then and now was a lifetime of experiences that included working for egotistical managers demanding their way while spending their days with liquid lunches resembling episodes of “Mad Men”. I count it as life lessons learned that led me to a clean, rousing finish. I’m lucky not to have known what I wanted. It might even be the key to success. Don’t look for anything, take what comes and don’t mess up.



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