Jeremy is an assistant economics professor at Loyola University, but he didn't always know he wanted to teach in this field. Jeremy's first job was at the Taco Maker at the Columbia Mall. Two weeks into the position, he was called into the owners office, expecting a promotion. Instead, he was being let go; he was too slow at making tacos. He convinced the owner to give him a second chance and learned how important it was for him to ask questions on the job. Jeremy has always taken that lesson with him and also appreciates when others ask questions of him. In his first job out of college, Jeremy was a bookkeeper at a local department store. The job was repetitive and he became frustrated. He began to ask for more work and new projects and that made the job better and helped him stand out. When he worked at an insurance company later, he set a great first impression by working more than 40 hours a week, an impression that stayed with him throughout his 3 years on the job. Jeremy gave the advice that it is important to convey to employers how much you want to work at their particular company. It is important to do research on the company before your interview as well and to know that first impressions can make a huge difference.
Nicole owns a law firm with her husband. They have two locations and her work is both challenging and gratifying. Nicole stressed to clients that it is important to know what kind of work environment will make you happy. Nicole's first job was at a feed store when she was a teenager. She also worked as a cashier at McDonald's and prided herself on being extremely quick on the job. After trying out college, Nicole dropped out to work as an entertainer on a cruise ship. She realized that the job wasn't for her though, and went back to get her A.A. degree and then her Bachelor's degree. She had no direction, but applied for law school and was accepted. Law school turned out to be an excellent fit for Nicole and she did well. She worked at the Department of Justice and got to travel, as well as some large firms, until she realized she wasn't happy. She decided to start her own business and now loves her job. She feels she is in charge of her own destiny and direction. Nicole urged clients not to be scared to follow their passion. She also stressed the importance of networking. Without networking her business would not be successful. She always kept good relationships with past employers and other contacts and that has helped her with referrals today. If nothing else, Nicole said, "smile. Find some satisfaction from your work."
MacKenzie is a special assistant in the Mayor's Office of Economic and Neighborhood Development. She is also a lawyer. MacKenzie describes her upbringing as privileged. She was at the top of her class in college and law school and always worked hard. In her first job out of law school, as a law clerk, however, she was frustrated at the kind of work she was doing. She stayed motivated though by reminding herself she wouldn't be doing this forever, and tried to be the best law clerk she could, by working on her soft skills and being a great employee. By working hard, redefining her goals, and showing her skills to employers, MacKenzie was able to get new and better jobs and work her way up. She finally got what she thought was her dream firm job, but realized that working at a law firm wasn't for her. Through networking with someone from her first job, she got into her current role and enjoys the challenges and business it affords her. MacKenzie's advice was to never disqualify yourself. "Don't let negativity get into your head, stay true to yourself and define yourself," she said. "Don't let others define you."