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By VINCENT DANGOLOVICH Most of us in the student world know the trouble of
ASSISTANT EDITOR working a dead-end job to support our education and
VWDSOO6@PSU.EDU expenses. For several summer seasons, I worked with
an old time photo group, taking; you guessed it, old
time photos of tourists. Later, I earned my way with a local Blockbuster Video. While
both were fun, nerve wrecking, interesting, boring, and just about anything else given the
right day, day jobs take their toll.
No one, regardless of career choice, pictures themselves in a no-skill retail/service job
for the rest of their life. We all have bad experiences in the jobs we work for student dol
lars. The trick is learning how to notice when our jobs work us, and how to make our
jobs work for us.
While working at Blockbuster, I was pulling resources to transfer to Penn State Har
risburg. Although the management knew my college plans, they repeatedly enticed me to
put off education in favor of company loyalty. While it is true, Blockbuster once offered
tuition reimbursement, it was strictly for courses toward retail management.
As time passed promotions and extra hours soon turned my focus from schooling to
keeping the store. Indeed I let my mind slip from my goal of a better career in a field of
my choosing, to making sure all company campaigns were utilized for maximizing store
profit. My loyalty was not rewarded.
The company released me and later closed the store. It seems my salary was too high for
a store in a slow district. I was without a job and learned no new skills from the company.
I had been used with little to show except an added drive to get back into college. My old
time photo job was stark contrast.
The seasonal work allowed one to easily avoid the school year. It also thrived on college
student participation to fill the busy, temporary positions of mid-summer. Furthermore, it
provided opportunities to learn portrait photography while interacting with large amounts
of diverse people.
Doing old time photos, you must be a sociable, even entertaining person. After all, you
have to get people to step aside from their summer vacations to put on costumes and sell
them a photo that they may have for the rest of their lives.
It can be an awkward experience for all involved. Many times the folks waiting for their
families to change into costume or for an available camera get hot and start to feel really
out of place. You see this most often in children and crying is not an option.
Many solve this problem with small talk and getting to know the clients. Being a semi
professional magician on the side, my solution is to grab some office supplies and do
some sleight of hand. Many people rather enjoy it, if only due to the surprise of a photo
clerk knowing how to perform magic.
On one occasion an Amusement park magician noticed my interaction with the family
waiting on photos. He loved my presentation and immediately wanted to know if I was
available to perform for the park. My day job actually got me a better job in a field I
Day jobs are a necessary evil. We often take them for the money but they can provide
so much more. We can make our jobs work for us and not vice versa. Most day jobs
involve your dealing with the general public and any interaction on that level is a chance
to promote yourself and learn.
You might not be able to do magic on the job, but you can certainly develop people skills
that you can use for the rest of your life. What's more is the chance to deal with the public
in a formal setting. Regardless of your career path, it is your business to know people
and how to relate to them.
Know their attitudes, their likes, their dislikes, what drives them. Know how to win
someone over. Know how to deal with a bad situation, a heckler, or a complainer. They
are everywhere. Being able to interact accordingly will stem from your experiences from
your dreaded day job.
People will always be at the core of any job or business. It is often said; it is not what you
know, but who. With that in mind, make your job work for you and use the experience to
generate your contacts and knowledge of the world around.
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