Initially (back in high school, and during my first years of college), I thought I would be a journalist — either a writer or a TV reporter.
However, in college I came to the realization that I liked “behind the scenes” stuff better than being in the spotlight, and I became intrigued by Psychology, Social Work and Family Counseling, with an emphasis on Children of Divorce. Those were my majors and minors as an Undergraduate and Graduate student.
Soon, I realized that was actually way too deep for my liking, and I didn’t think I would be able to have much “fun” in a career field that was would weigh so heavy on my heart. I knew that it would most likely drain me personally and emotionally — both on the job and off. So, in the middle of writing my Master’s Thesis, I abandoned whatever preconceived notions I had for my career and I decided to explore what was available out there that I might be able to make a living at… and have fun at the same time.
I was hired at the first place I applied: Paul Smith’s College in New York — before I even got my graduate degree in Texas. I became their Director of Alumni Relations. That set things in motion for me to work in higher education (on the administrative side) for years to come. I went on to work at 3 universities (Paul Smith’s College in Saranac Lake, NY; University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL; and University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL). I was the luckiest girl in the world to get each of those jobs. And I tried to make the most of my time at each one of them — always giving more than was expected of me, and at the same time, trying to add my own “outside the box” ways of doing things that I hoped would make things better and easier for those who would be in my position after I left.
Eventually, I realized that if I was going to spend the majority of my life away from home working for someone else, then I had to love it. Otherwise, I felt that I wouldn’t be getting the most out of my life — on both a personal and professional level. So I took a long hard look at what I enjoyed the most and what I was the best at.
The photos below highlight many of the fun jobs I’ve had in the past. Each has helped to shape my future and where I am today.
I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned and done along the way that eventually got me to where I really wanted to be all along!
Working At Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio
While a student at Indiana University, I participated in a “recruitment fair” for those interested in working at Cedar Point Amusement Park (aka “the roller coaster capital of the world”) for the summer. I thought I’d be loading people onto rides. I ended up selling gold-by-the-inch jewelry! I became an expert at sizing necklaces and bracelets to fit every tourist who stopped by my booth, while using tiny little jewelry tools to affix clasps & charms onto these custom-made souvenirs. Notice the chunky, gold-plated initials & symbols?… That’s what people were dying to wear around their necks in the summer of 1987!
Selling Jewelry (“Gold-By-The-Inch”) At Cedar Point
I earned the title of “Top Salesperson” this summer at Cedar Point, earning a very high commission for each piece of jewelry sold. When this summer job was over, I headed back for my senior year at Indiana University with wads of cash (and some nifty little jewelry tools) in my pocket. (I still have those little gadgets and I use them to repair my own jewelry to this day.)
Texas Tech University Graduate Student
I went to grad school at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. I loved living in Lubbock for 2 years (despite the attempted robbery while I was working at a convenience store – see below) , and the frustrating times while writing my Master’s Thesis (the University, or rather my lead professor, wanted me to take a different direction with my thesis than what I wanted — codependency vs children of divorce).
The weather in Lubbock was incredible! Lubbock has crisp clear days & nights, virtually no humidity, clear starry nights year round, and only a very light dusting of snow at the most each year. Plus, it’s flat as heck, so you can see for miles! It was a fun place to go to school, and a great place to live. I’d love to go back to visit someday.
My Part-Time Job At A Convenience Store In Lubbock, Texas
During grad school at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, I worked part-time for the University (as an Undergraduate Advisor, helping students decide on their classes & ultimate career plans) and also part-time at this convenience store (called The Pit Stop) that was located directly across the street from campus. Interesting side note: One day, classes had just let out for Christmas break and campus was completely empty. It was the only day that I was ever asked to run the store alone. It happened to be the same day that a guy decided to rob the place! He brought a magazine up to the counter & asked me its price — including tax. When I started to ring it into the register, he swung around behind me and placed a knife to my back, instructing me to open the cash register immediately. Everything went haywire from there. Fortunately, he was as confused as I was, and a customer soon came up to the window and scared him away. Police and an ambulance came, but the cut actually did more damage to my favorite IU sweatshirt than to my back. Not having any health insurance, I refused treatment.
Speaking at the Podium as the Alumni Director at Paul Smith’s College
As Director of Alumni Relations at Paul Smith’s College, I coordinated Reunion Weekend each summer for the returning PSC alumni (among other things throughout the year). Here, I’m at the podium addressing reunion class members about the weekend’s activities. I also spent a good deal of time on the road with the college’s President, Dr. H. David Chamberlain (seated with his wife, Renada, on my immediate left in this photo) hosting receptions for alumni who lived in different parts of the country. These travels were largely fundraising in nature, and they also gave us a chance to touch base with alumni who might not have the opportunity to get back to PSC in the Adirondack mountains to hear about all the great changes on campus. Paul Smith’s College is primarily for students who want specialized jobs in Forestry or Culinary Arts.
High Atop Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid New York
This picture symbolizes one of the “perks” of this job. Paul Smith’s College is located in a fairly remote place: the Adirondack mountains of Lake Placid, New York. There isn’t much to see and do around there, except take in all of the beautiful nature that surrounds you everywhere you look! Most enjoyable: the picturesque fall foliage in the Autumn months, thick powdery white snow (often 20+ inches deep!) in the Winter months, and lots of crisp clean air that never got hot or humid in the Summer months. The only downside: it either snowed or was cold 8 months of the year!
I’m The Director of Member Services For UCF Alumni
As Director of Member Services at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, I attended lots of fun alumni events. My goal was to get the word out about the benefits of joining the UCF Alumni Association. I tried a number of new things to increase alumni membership numbers — many of them worked well! The number of members was at an all-time high when I left UCF (after 6 years in that position).
Hard At Work For The UCF Alumni Association
My boss, Tom (probably the best boss I’ve ever had), allowed me to pick out my own desk, so this is what I chose… a mega-desk! Not only did it take up 2 full walls in my office, it perfectly suited the highly-organized, detail-oriented person that I am. There were nooks and crannies for everything. To this day, they’re probably still finding stuff that I stashed away inside all of those hidden alcoves! I wonder if the little round “mauve” corner table that I also fought so hard to get is still in the office. (Thanks for everything, Tom.)
UCF Alumni Events Were Fun To Work
In addition to the typical 9-5 hours spent working in the office, there were a lot of after-hours events that the entire alumni staff worked together. Like here, for example, we all squished into a van and drove from Orlando to Atlanta to host an event at Turner Field for alums living in the area. My biggest regret: Choosing not to go with the rest of the alumni staff to Hawaii that year UCF played in the Aloha Bowl. Oh well…
Lynnette’s Farewell Party At UCF
After 6 years, a lot of good times, a lot of good friends, and a lot of good memories… I sadly bid farewell to every at the University of Central Florida. But boy was it exciting to be moving to Pensacola to start an all new life with Jim! It was time to spread my wings and pursue new dreams, new goals, and find a new home (Pensacola) with my soon-to-be husband.
Helping To Hand-Raise A Baby Orangutan At The Gulf Breeze Zoo
When I left my “beyond-great-in-all-ways” job at UCF in Orlando and moved to Pensacola with Jim, I was at a turning point in my life career-wise. I knew that I didn’t want to pursue the typical 9 to 5… climb-up-the-career-ladder kind of jobs anymore. Instead, I wanted to try my hand at the types of things I’d “always wanted to do”. On my list were things like:
- Work at a zoo. (did it!)
- Work at a vet. (did it!)
- Work at a photo lab. (did it!)
- Something with beach rental properties. (did it!)
I was grateful to be in a position where I was able to try something new like this, so I took full advantage of it!
Thinking Outside The Banana…
Going against the norm and everything that friends and family were expecting of me, as soon as we moved to Pensacola, I began my search for “fun” jobs. I wanted to learn firsthand (and participate in) the behind-the-scenes activities taking place in highly unusual career fields. This was my first conscious attempt at “thinking outside the bun”. My career focus switched from: “working for a company with the sole purpose of making money” to: “working at something I’m passionate about and doing something that is fulfilling to me personally”. So, I applied for a job at The ZOO in Gulf Breeze, Florida… And I got it. (In addition to being able to hold this baby orangutan on the day of my interview, they also made me eat chocolate-covered crickets!)
I’m Getting Paid To Do What I Love?!…
While I was working at The ZOO, I also applied to be a guide for About.com — the 5th largest search engine on the Internet at the time. (Yes, back then About.com was considered a “search engine”.) In 1999, I was one of the first guides they hired. My task was to create and maintain a web site about Pensacola, Florida — one of 500 sites on their network. (At the time, few companies paid for this type of service, so I was quite lucky to get in when I did!) This photo shows the day I received my first paycheck from About.com. It was so rewarding… being able to turn something that I was truly passionate about — that seemed more like a hobby — into a job that I actually got paid for! Eventually, Jim got his own site at About.com too (about Jeeps and 4-Wheel Drive vehicles), so we both worked for About.com for quite some time. Soon that “hobby” was paying us more than our full-time jobs were!
Director of Broken Servers At UWF
Soon after we were married in 1999, with a few months of work at The ZOO under my belt — and the web site gig with About.com still on the side — I (reluctantly) got back into Higher Ed Administration when I took a full-time job at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. On the one hand, it was intriguing because I was in charge of the alumni and donors database, and responsible for other computer-related tasks in the office. (The geek side of me loved this.) On the other hand, it was against everything I stood for at the time: pursuing only the things in life that I was truly passionate about. Jim informed me that I could be passionate about this… so I accepted and searched for that passion. It never found me. I spent most of my time in the closet (where the computer server was kept) rebooting the system and trying to make error messages go away.
Jim at My Desk at The University of West Florida
This job at the University of West Florida had so much potential, but there were just too many roadblocks hampering our department’s ability to get anything done there — especially related to my job. For one, the computer server which housed the all-important database was a dinosaur, and there was no rush to upgrade it at the time. For two, the database itself was being maintained within a program that was full of bugs and work-arounds that stunted my creativity and energy level on a daily basis. On this day, I called Jim to my office on a Saturday to help me solve a repeated problem trying to merge an external database file with our alumni database. What should’ve been a simple process, was in fact filled with a slew of work-arounds — none of which ever worked 2 times in a row!
Filing Pet Records at Cool Springs Animal Hospital
While still working on web sites, I’ve always kept my eye open for other “fun” jobs listed in the paper and online job sites. When I came across this job opening at the Cool Springs Animal Hospital, I jumped at the chance to work at a vet! I’m a lifelong dog owner and a huge animal lover. I couldn’t believe I could be so lucky to see what goes on behind the scenes at a veterinarian’s office and help pet owners at the same time. Though not prestigious in the least, it was a dream job for sure!
Answering Phones At The Vet
I really enjoyed my job at Cool Springs Animal Hospital. I answered phones, set appointments, checked the pets in for routine appointments and overnight surgeries, accepted payments, arranged cremations and burials, checked on pets who were being boarded overnight, and learned a whole lot about animal health care and trauma. This was one of my favorite jobs… ever! I left there simply to try a few other new things while I had the opportunity. I’m still very close with the staff at this Animal Hospital and my dogs have only gone to this vet — even though we’ve moved farther away.
Creators, Writers and Sellers of PitPass Souvenier Programs
After attending an IHRA drag racing event in 2002, Jim got the wild idea to create and sell souvenir programs at all IHRA motorsports events. It all started when he was asked to print something for the IHRA Drag Racing Association and they invited him to attend a race. When he asked where he could get a program of the weekend’s events, he was shocked to find that there was no program. After months of planning, numerous conversations involving the IHRA and Ambrose Printing Company (where Jim was working fulltime at the time), and support from a handful of friends who helped us pull this off, it all came together. We created PitPass souvenir programs for the IHRA. These were 56-page 4-color magazines that profiled all of the weekend’s drivers in each class, in addition to lots of fun facts, in-depth articles, and advertising. You can see that we sold them for $4 initially. Later, we upped the price to $5 apiece. Our friend, Mike, went above and beyond, and became our partner in crime in this entrepreneurial endeavor. We sold our premiere issue of PitPass at the IHRA’s first event of the 2003 season. (UPDATE for 2013: Jim went on to become the PR & Marketing guy for drag racer Terry McMillen. A position he still holds to this day.)
I’m A Photographer In Heaven Here: Working In A Photo Lab
I was thrilled when I saw an ad in the paper for a very low-paying job working in a photo lab! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The photographer in me has always wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes developing people’s film. I worked for Image Express, a one-hour photo lab in Nashville, and loved every minute of it.
Scanning Film Negatives Onto Photo CDs
One of the perks of the photo lab job was the ability to scan all of our old film negatives onto photo CDs for permanent storage. I used my own CDs and only did this in the “down time”, but this was definitely one of the best parts of the job for me — especially since I’m a photo junkie and an avid scrapbooker! At the time, I had over 6,000 photos organized and stored on my computer’s hard drive! Thanks, in part, to this unique opportunity to preserve our old negatives. (UPDATE: In 2013, I now have over 50,000 photos stored… and backed up.)
Excellent Customer Service = Free Beer
After only 1 month on the job at the photo lab, I was awarded a $10 Kroger Gift Certificate for “providing excellent customer service” in the One-Hour Photo Lab. Jim thought it was pretty funny when I came home from work with a 12-pack of beer. I received the same award the very next month, and the purchase was the same. Only, since we now owned stock in Budweiser, I was obligated to purchase Bud Light beer this time!
Proofing and Editing Copy For The State of Tennessee
In between my jobs at the Vet and the Photo Lab, I worked as a “proofreader” for the Senate in Tennessee. It was a part-time gig that was only available during the 6 months or so that the Senate was in session each year. I did this for 2 years. I was responsible for reading all of the Bills, Resolutions, and Amendments (with another proofreader – Dot, seen here) and correcting errors as we found them. It was a ton of repetition. But I’m a stickler for detail, so I actually enjoyed it. Six months at a time was about the maximum you can do this though without getting bored off your gourd. So it worked out fine for me.
Protests On The Steps Of The Capitol in Nashville
One of the interesting things that occurred when I was working for the Senate was a multi-day protest on the steps of the Capitol Building. Local citizens were protesting a proposed state tax. It became very heated at times, but the citizens got their wish. Today, Tennessee remains one of the few states without a State Income Tax.
The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Book…
This was one of my first days on the job as Electronic Journal Clerk for the Tennessee Senate. Here, in my new office in the Capitol Building, I’m seeing how one person writes (in long-hand) everything that takes place during over the course of each session of the Senate in one of these “Alice in Wonderland” books, as I called them. They’re really huge, heavy, black, hard-bound books filled with blank white pages. My job?… To find a way to quickly & easily get all of the actions that take place on the Senate floor into the computer. By computerizing the process, the aim was to get the printed versions out & into people’s hands in a timely manner.
I’m Basically A Glorified Court Reporter For The State
Despite the high-tech edge that I brought to the job (computerizing the hand-written ledgers), I was basically just a glorified court reporter (who happened to get some face time on TV since all of the Senate meetings were public record and all of the controversial debates and votes ended up on TV. Here, I’m in the Senate Chamber during session while using my computerized shortcuts to capture the events that are taking place on the floor. (You can’t see all of the Senators who are talking about bills and resolutions — one item at a time.)
And if you’re the least bit interested (I don’t blame you if you’re not!), here’s a little bit more about some of these jobs, plus a rundown of the jobs I had before these — some were definitely more fun than others.
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).