Jessica Baron about to sing "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm".

When we left off last time, I just got a cushy job as a receptionist in a technology firm on 6th Avenue in New York City, the Avenue of the Americas. (Don’t ask me why they call it that…)The building I worked in was one of those enormous high rises that can make you dizzy if you try to see the top of it standing outside looking up. It curves over your head, the windows getting smaller as they bend over and up and up. I only worked on the 7th floor, not the 77th, but I felt a kind of amazement every time I walked in at the sheer size of it.

As a receptionist for Radianz, I sat behind a desk in view of two glass plate doors and buzzed folks in when they walked up to them. (The doors wouldn’t open from the outside unless I buzzed. What power!) I also answered a general office phone number and transferred phone calls to their respective parties. Sadly or happily, that’s about all I did. So, when the phone didn’t ring or no one stood behind the glass doors, I did very little. Because of this, the hours went by slowly, and I found myself playing online games or surfing a lot. But then, my supervisor didn’t want anyone who I buzzed in to see a game or an unrelated website on my desktop. They began to assign small tasks to me, data entry and such, but most of those took very little time, and we were back where we started: me sitting, staring into space from 8 am until 2 pm.

That’s right, this was a part-time job! A part-time salaried job, when they offered me a salary and benefits after a couple of months of working through the temp agency. Because they wanted the desk manned from 8 am until 6 pm, there were two of us working, me from 8 am to 2 pm and another woman from 12 pm to 6 pm. This made it possible for each of us to take an hour lunch break in the overlap and pass off projects we were working on. But what it made possible for me was auditions and soon after rehearsals in the afternoons and evenings. I was doing what I came here for! I worked a half day, ran off to audition for a show or rehearse for another, and weekend nights I performed. It worked well for nine months or so.

What happened in nine months? Well, I got an offer to do a film for the summer in Dallas, and I felt it was a good opportunity (whether it was remains to be seen). I left the job at Radianz with the promise that I would be back in September. During the summer while I was gone, the other woman who did my job would be full time, and we would go back to the way things were when I returned. Well, here was lesson number one for me in the working world. Often, leaving a job for an extended period shows a company that they can get on without you. Even if you seemed indispensible before you left. I left in May of 2001, with a plan to return in September. Somewhere around the middle of September. In 2001. You can guess what happened when I did…

Stay turned to hear the rest of the story. Remember the career fairs are this Wednesday and Thursday. We hope to see you there!

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.