Hello!! Jessica, the Career Changer here, and I left off last time with my first job experience as an actor in the mountains of Colorado. At the end of that summer in 2004, after some traveling and visiting with family and friends, I returned to New York City. I quickly found a job back in the restaurant business at a very fancy restaurant in the TriBeCa neighborhood. They trained me to be a hostess, and I had to memorize the faces of a slew of famous and not so famous but important people that would be seated first, treated better, and given whatever they asked. The whole thing made my skin crawl a bit. This was the first place I worked where they actually trained me to treat some people better than others, and I did not like the concept at all. I’m one of the people who wouldn’t get treated very well, and so are my parents, and so are my friends. I followed the procedures I learned, but whenever possible, tried to treat everyone, famous or not, the same. I went back to auditioning periodically and performed in a couple of small projects.
But here is where my story gets a bit dramatic and complicated. That year, my mother was pretty sick with cancer, so even though I was living in New York and working at this fancy restaurant and auditioning for theatre, a lot of my time was spent at home in New Jersey with her. And here is another lesson I’ve learned. There are more important things than work. I needed to work less that year and spend time with her more because I knew she might not be around much longer. So, I let my supervisor know this situation, and he was very understanding. I left that job and my apartment in February of 2005 to live with my parents and help take care of my mother. My plan was to return to Colorado for another season of acting in May.
In May, just before I was scheduled to leave for the summer, my mother passed away. I believe she did that on purpose so that I could be there with her and with my dad. I still made it to the beginning of my contract in Colorado, but I knew then I probably wasn’t going to back to the New York City area. I’d worked really hard to make a life for myself there, but in Colorado I didn’t need to work quite so hard at jobs I didn’t like or didn’t feel right about doing. The community in Colorado embraced me and took care of me through this grief, through a time of mourning, and also showed me where to go and what to do next. And I did figure it out… Next time, I’ll let you know what I figured out in “Confessions of a Career Changer”.
Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.