Friday, June 27, 2008

Starting a New Job

. Friday, June 27, 2008

No, I'm not starting a new job - but we've hired a couple college graduates recently, and that has gotten me thinking about life was like for me after I graduated from Clarkson University way back in 1995.

I had a number of on-campus interviews and was even flown to Boston for a follow up interview, but I did not have a job lined up when I graduated in May. So I still lived at my parents' house in Oneida while continuing to work as a cashier at Price Chopper. I continued to look for a "real" job but wasn't having much luck. The economy was kind of slow at that time (especially in CNY where I had focused my job search). Out of the blue, I received a phone call from Schonbek Worldwide Lighting. They had gotten my resume from Clarkson and wanted me to come up to Plattsburgh for an interview. It's about a 4 hour drive if I remember correctly. They had everybody (including Andrew Schonbek - the company's president) but the janitor interview me. I was nervous but thought I did really well. It wasn't the type of job (manufacturing) I had invisioned myself working at but wanted to keep an open mind. A day or two later, I received a phone call with a job offer. Here are some random observations about that time in my life just entering the "real world".

  1. I was really nervous at work for the first week or so. Most of it was just being afraid of the unknown, not knowing what my job duties really entail. They can describe your duties all they want during the interview, but you don't really understand it until after you start (especially for someone fresh out of school).
  2. They used a different drafting program than I learned at school, so I had the frustration of having to learn that.
  3. I made arrangements to be roommates with a fellow employee who started at Schonbek a couple years earlier. I stayed with him at his current apartment for the first week while we looked for a larger apartment to move into. The apartment was right next to the train tracks, and it scared the piss out of me when the train would pass through in the middle of the night.
  4. I've always been good at saving my money. While others were still living their college days and going out drinking constantly, I used my money to buy things for the house. It was fun going to Sears and buying all sorts of hand tools and shoppnig around elsewhere for all those things to get your house set up. I even bought a Maytag washer and dryer after working several months because I hated going to the laundromat. I still have that washer and dryer today and they're still running great.
  5. It was actually "neat" to have my own bills for a short period of time. But that got old really quick.
  6. NO HOMEWORK!!! It was a weird feeling not having any more homework. I'd get home from work and think, "Well, what do I do now?" I would actually feel panicked at times thinking that I forgot to work on something or that I had a term paper due. I would usually go for an hour bike ride after work, explore the area, and eat dinner late.
  7. My starting salary coming out of school was $27,000. That amounts to $37,000 in today's dollars. It's amazing how much my salary has increased since then.
  8. Even though I was four hours away from home, I didn't feel very homesick. Clarkson is about 4 hours from Oneida too, so maybe that's why. I imagine it would be difficult for some college graduates to adjust to living further from home in a different state or even cross-country. If you live in the same state you grew up in, you're use to the culture and stuff. That can be quite different if you move to a different part of the country.
  9. Even though the people at Schonbek were great to work with and I had a roommate (for a while), I never really made any real friends during my 1 1/2 years in Plattsburgh. All of the people at work that were my age had different interests than me so we didn't hang out much outside of work. Going out drinking just wasn't my thing. I was too responsible and mature for my own good. So after the novelty of the new job and moving to and living in a new area wore off, I got kind of depressed. Good thing I was into riding my bike because it gave me something to focus on. But I felt pretty lonely, especially during the winter months, because of not being able to ride my bike.
  10. I remember my parents coming up to visit and showing them my apartment and where I worked. You could see the pride in their eyes and that made me feel real proud inside too.


The Thrifty Blogger said...

You should print this out and save it for your son. Keep it in your family history. Years and years from now, it will make for interesting reading for your son and future relatives. How I wish I had some type of diary from my grandmother! :)

Anonymous said...

Boo- In case you don't know, Ms. Kathy Johnson, who was head of the Clarkson Career Development Center when you graduated, and responsible for the process that got your resume out to employers after Commencement, is being treated for breast cancer. If you're so inclined, I'm sure she'd get a kick out of your story. You can send it to her at

Jim Wood, '64