November 11, 2012

Back to My Roots

I started a new job today.

No, it's not at another record label.

No, it's not at another tech startup.

It's at the mall.

I left my last job in July because I was on the wrong career path, having gotten sucked back into the music industry. And as the old proverb says, no matter how far you've gone down the wrong road, you must turn back, because you are on the wrong road.

So I've taken the last few months to try to figure things out. I've met lots of new people. I've interviewed for lots of new jobs. I just haven't gotten one yet.

During a recent interview for a position that didn't work out, I was asked which of my past jobs has been my favorite. I answered unequivocally: Media Play in Shoppingtown Mall, where I worked for the last two years of college. I almost stayed in Syracuse to keep working at Media Play, instead of moving to New York to start my career in music. I often wonder what would've happened if I had.

I loved the product I was selling. I loved the camaraderie of my coworkers. I loved my customers. I loved eating lunch in the food court. I loved being on my feet all day. I loved meeting new people all the time.

So when all of my current prospects for full-time work seemed to be put on hold until at least the new year - something recruiters warned me would happen with the recent election and upcoming holidays - I went back to my roots and started filling out applications for seasonal retail work at the mall.

I'd done this once before, back in Queens when I was financially desperate, and not sure I would ever be able to move to LA. Two years ago, nobody wanted to hire me. Maybe my overqualification was too daunting for them. Maybe they were too overwhelmed by local high school and college students for hire. I, a college graduate with over 12 years of experience, could not get hired anywhere in New York.

But this time, I applied to work at my favorite clothing store at the mall walking distance from my apartment, was called into an interview shortly thereafter, and was hired on the spot.

And the most bizarre thing happened: I looked forward to going to work.

Today was my first day back on my feet, back in the mall, and the time flew. I'd been reticent to tell anyone about the part-time work I'd picked up - including past employers whose references are usually necessary for hiring - but once I started the job, I wasn't embarrassed. I felt at home.

It's not every day. It's not forever. It's not a career. But for right now, in the holiday season, with decorations hung and Christmas tunes in the overhead, it is the right road for me to be on.

And - having already explored so many of the crevices of LA in the last two years - it gives me something to do.

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