I started working when I was 14. I went to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago and part of the educational program there was obtaining a job in the city to pay tuition. This was a positive thing because I was able to learn responsibility and good work ethics from an early age. The jobs we obtained were spread across the city and were in the fields of advertisement, business, public health and legal.
The first job I ever had though was when I was ten years old. I worked for a woman in the neighborhood. I worked in her community garden on the corner of 16th St and South Union Ave. I was paid 10 dollars an hour to do labor work in her garden. I can remember very vividly leaving my friends to go to work. I only did this for a few weekends. I worked maybe one day out of the weekend for about 3 hours each “shift” but it put a little money in my pocket and in 1992 this was awesome. After this little gig was over and very short lived I would go on to land one more job that last about a year and a half.
In 1992/93, I can’t remember exactly due to my current age of 34 I auditioned for a part in a play. I would land the part and become a paid actor. I got 50 dollars per show and would perform 1 day every other week. The show was about sexual abuse in schools. A very tough subject but important to share with the community. The play toured the city schools in Chicago and also had a small 4-6 week run (can’t fully recall), at the Blue Rider Theater in Pilsen on Chicago’s South Side. The play received positive reviews and I had a small part out of the 45-minute production appearing on stage for about 15-20 minutes. Once again it gave me the opportunity to earn a little money in which I kept and also taught me the importance of working and how to earn a living. Sounds strange but true. Who at age 10 starts to learn the value of money and working.
When I started High School, I choose this school because I knew that I needed to get real work experience. I knew that in order to have the things that I wanted in life I needed to work and work hard. My first job was working for Saint Anthony Hospital on the southwest side of Chicago. I worked in medical records doing a lot of filing. It was boring but I learned a lot. I remember looking through the files at all the pictures of traumas that came through the ER. I saw a lot in those pictures that shocked and scared me. At the time, I had never seen limbs detached from the human body or gunshot wounds on small children. They were images that shocked me and also scared me. I would only work at the hospital for a year until the school year was over and then on to a new assignment in the fall.
My sophomore year I was placed at Leo Burnette Advertising in downtown Chicago. When I was assigned to this job I thought I scored big. I would be working for a large advertising firm and learning about the biz first hand. I walked into the building went straight to HR and then straight into the mailroom. Although a good opportunity it was boring. I would spend the days I was assigned their sorting through the mail and placing it in mail slots. All the mail came in through bins and then thrown on a table and you would sift through it placing each piece of mail into its correct slot above the table. Each slot had a floor. When the slot was full you’d than pull together the mail place it in a bin and send it up. We got a lot of mail, all different types too. Bills, letters, newspapers and magazines. We we’re an advertising firm so anything we had any sort of involvement in we would get a magazine from that place. A lot of times people would send the magazines back down so that staff in the mailroom could take them home. I took many copies of rolling Stones and Spin magazine. At the time, I was heavily into music. Especially alternative music. I am still a huge fanatic of music but I don’t buy magazines I just scroll Facebook for my news. I know, FAKE NEWS.
Junior year I worked for KPMG Consulting, I don’t know what I did actually. I did some sort of filing. I never paid attention and remember most of my time starring out of the window. My department and office was located on one of the higher floor of the building so the view of Chicago was stunning. You had a view of the lake and the northern downtown skyline. There was no sign of Trump Tower at the time. In fact, the skyline has changed so much in 15 years that if I went up to that same floor I know the view would be different. In fact, almost unrecognizable. The city is beautiful and ever changing and I am glad to call it home.
Senior year I worked for the Chicago Tribune on Michigan Ave. I don’t even remember what I did but I believe I worked in HR. The people were fun and being right on Michigan Ave was the best part. I spent a lot of time there doing some heavy soul searching. At the time, I was looking into Colleges sill. I was accepted into Marquette University and Columbia College Chicago. I didn’t know if I was going to stay local or go away. I also didn’t know if I wanted to go into the Art’s or study something like business or healthcare. I was heavily involved in the Art’s since I was a kid. I had also been dancing most of my life as well. I ended up staying in Chicago and attending Columbia College.
During my Junior year I obtained my first retail job. I got a job at cost Plus World Market and worked alongside my sister. She worked doing the books or accounting or whatever for the store. I worked doing everything else. I stocked the shelves, worked the register and cleaned the bathrooms. The store was on the Northside in the Lakeview neighborhood just outside the border of boystown. I was young at the time so I had a lot of opportunities to meet guys for dates and I got hit on a lot. I loved working and I loved the job.
From the age of 17 until today I have been working. I would go on to work at Blockbuster, Rampage, Forever 21, Crabtree and Evelyn, Express, Hot Topic, Claire’s and the list goes on. I worked in retail for 11 years and about 9 years in retail management. It was a great industry but I grew tired and wanted a change. I never finished school at Columbia and dropped out after 1 year. I would eventually go back to school in 2007 and study Psychology.
In 2011 when I walked away from retail and as a manager I started working at a law firm in downtown Chicago. I would spend almost 2 years there until I decided that I would go to school for a Masters in Counseling and start my career. Up until this point in my life I worked many jobs but I wasn’t in what I would call my career. While retail can be a career I myself didn’t want to be a part of it forever.
I started working as a mental health counselor in 2013 and since then have been in the field. I would go on to work steadily and go to school. In fact, since 2011 I pretty much have been slammed either working 2 jobs at a time or school and work. I wasn’t living rather just working. I didn’t mind it and still do not see it as a negative. I was working to set myself up for success. I finished my Masters in 2016 and spent the next year working off debt and focusing on my career. I went back into retail this time working at a tanning salon. I enjoyed it but was very busy. In October 2017 I decided to add another degree to my resume and in December just a few weeks ago I quit the tanning salon to focus on school and myself. I decided to add an MBA to my list of achievements and accomplishments.
While I write this, and reflect on my journey through my past work experiences I realize I have done it all. Not mentioned so far were jobs working at a Club doing retail and coat check, working for a coat check company being sent all over the city, door to door sales, brand ambassador for PopChips, hair salon cleaning up hair, and a therapist at a private practice. I even worked labor for my father and his business before he closed working at a recycling center. I have been a hard worker my entire life and for the first time I am taking the time to focus more on me. I have set myself up to be a hard worker, dedicated with great work ethic. Some people have a few jobs under their belt with limited experience but I come with a wealth of experience in a variety of fields. There is one exception, I have never worked in the food service industry.
My journey is not over, I have a plan and a focus. Sometime in next decade I will be working part time as a therapist and owning my own business. I will in fact hopefully own my own private practice and either a restaurant, bar or retail store of some sorts. My journey has been somewhat sort when you look at my age of 35 in just a few weeks but long when you look at everything I have done so far. My resume could be pages long