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Irrelevant work experience

March 13, 2014

flickr – jefferysclark

As is pretty much the norm for a professional CV, somewhere in the past I draw a line in the work experience and only show the jobs that have “relevance” to the work I might seek. Really, who needs to know my long and detailed history in the food service industry? I’d rather forget some of it myself.

On Facebook I recently saw one of those little “do this in your timeline” challenges where one was supposed to list the first ten jobs they had had or something like that. As I mentally went through my list, I got both something of a laugh and had a small epiphany, that being that no work experience is ever really irrelevant. Many of my work habits–conscientiousness, teamwork, dedication–were established long before I began working in libraries. So, here’s an attempt at an “irrelevant work experience” listing, in chronological order and starting at age 12:

  • newspaper delivery, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
  • handyman, custodian, and bindery, IBC printing
  • busboy, La Fonda de Acebo
  • busboy, Elly May’s Kitchen
  • cook, Elly May’s Kitchen (best breakfast, 1984!)
  • waiter, Elly May’s Kitchen
  • emergency room volunteer, Swedish Medical Center
  • bindery and delivery, Arapahoe Printing and Typesetting
  • mail room assistant, Colorado College
  • Bernoulli drive assembly line, Iomega
  • ski and bike hardgood sales, Christy Sports
  • dishwasher, Arapahoe Cafe
  • cook, Glacier National Park backcountry (best and most physically demanding job I’ll ever have, most likely)
  • temp work in Boulder, CO
  • waiter, Le Francais
  • prep cook, Alfalfa’s market
  • freelance German-English translation
  • English teacher, Prague and Poprad
  • graduate student assistant, Washington University Library

… and at that point my “relevant” work experience that I show on my CV kicks in. Since none of this is documented in paperwork–no, I didn’t archive my W-2 forms–and happened before the era of digital photography, I’m sure I’ve forgotten this or that odd job. Still, it’s kind of fun to write this all down and mull why I did some of that work (mostly to eat and pay rent) and what impact it may have had. What is your “irrelevant” experience?


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