First job(s) by Wendy Delsol

We’re talking firsts this month. Because I’ve made this crazy writing gig my fulltime job, I thought I’d dedicate this post to first jobs.

Our writing is shaped by our life experiences, work history included. My first job was at age sixteen, between my junior and senior years of high school. I worked as a stock girl (back then we didn’t know about gender-neutral job descriptions) for a discount drugstore in Roseville, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit). I didn’t like it much (the job, not Detroit). It was mindless, boring, surprisingly physical, and there was little to no interaction with customers or coworkers. If nothing else, it strengthened my college goals.

Post-bachelor’s-degree, my first real job was as an interpreter for a French engineering company that was installing a painting system for Ford. I wore a hard-hat, steel-toe boots, and got paid to interpret whenever the French experts had something to say to the American installers. It was actually pretty fun. I had just returned home after having spent a post-college

year studying in France. Although I was only hired for the project itself—lasting only three or four months, if my memory serves correctly—it felt rewarding to use my French for a job. The two engineers with whom I worked were wonderful, and I had this amazing peek at life on the floor of the Ford factory. Loud, hot, dirty, and very few other females are what I remember most. Not that I was sweating it out “on the floor” for eight hours a day. The two Frenchmen and I had the luxury of retreating to the air-conditioned offices and propping our steel-toed boots up on a desk.

Not long after that project ended, I followed my college roomies out to Los Angeles. There, I got my master’s degree (while waiting tables at night) and later worked as a tour coordinator in the travel industry, a job I held for over ten years.

Speaking of ten, it’s been a decade since I’ve dedicated myself to writing, my favorite job of all—and last, with any luck.


  1. In '11, I'd been at writing full-time for a decade, as well! I'm with you on that "last" bit!

  2. That interpreter job does sound like fun. I tried studying French for a few months, but I made the mistake of studying it at the same time that I was studying Spanish. I didn't realize that the two languages were similar to each other, so that made it more difficult to learn them both at the same time. I did keep studying Spanish, though.

  3. My first job was a cashier in a hardware store. I knew absolutely nothing about home improvement but it was a family owned store and such a laid back environment. I remember being able to take a book with me and just stand at the register and read for my five hour shift during the winter because business was so slow. It was like getting paid to read.


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