Penny Saver Leads to Penny Earner

by Adrienne Walsh '02

I dreamed of working with children’s programming in a gallery or performing arts center. While at Scripps, I chose to design my own major in arts management and felt that it would be a great background to help me break into “behind the scenes” work at galleries, performing arts centers, or museums.

As my classmates and I walked down Elm Tree Lawn at Commencement and then listened to the optimistic words of the speaker, the reality of our future began to materialize. those of us, like me, not going on to graduate school, or leaving Scripps with a job in hand, saw our delusions of grandeur fall to the floor with our tossed graduation hats.

As anyone knows who has recently tried to find a job, it is tough. When the economy is strong, job hunting is a lot of work. However, when the economy is lagging, it is a discouraging, heartbreaking, and frustrating experience. After graduation, I gave myself a vacation, worked part time as a babysitter, and loved my non-9-to-5 life. When late June rolled around, I pounded the cyber pavement with excitement and enthusiasm. I graciously and happily sent applications, résumés, curriculum vitas, and anything else an employer asked of me.

My first wave of applications blanketed the arts world from secretarial to managerial positions. I sent out résumés to what seemed like every arts-related venue in Southern California. In the first month, I received two interviews. Both employers rejected me because of my lack of managerial experience. As I saw my dreams of working immediately in an arts occupation becoming farther out of reach, I became upset with my choice to major in the arts. I began to feel that a business or education major might have given me a better entry into the job market. I became frustrated and desperate. In order to work in an arts arena, I nearly resorted to taking a full-time job as a ticketing agent for less money than I was making babysitting.

I began investigating the intriguing world of sales.The ads looked interesting and offered an attractive salary. I was offered positions at two different firms doing exactly the same thing. However, the positions consisted of door-to-door sales, and my support system strongly encouraged me to continue my search. In my heart, I knew the sales jobs probably were not for me, but if needed, I could return to this option later.

I knew that I had to start thinking outside the box if I wanted to find a position I would enjoy. I began looking at community recreation jobs. I thought my experience with children, athletics, music, and art would all be valuable tools in the field. I kept my mind open and continued to search other periodicals for jobs unrelated to the arts.

In the PennySaver, near the middle of October 2002, I found a tiny advertisement stating “Activity Director Needed, California P.E.O. Home, Alhambra California.” At that point I did not even know where Alhambra was located but decided to invest another 37 cents.The rest is history.

Now, I am gainfully employed as the director of resident enrichment at the California P.E.O. Home, a private community for women belonging to the P.E.O. sisterhood. It has three levels of care, and I work on the assisted and independent living side of the campus. Although not the job I was looking for upon graduating, this job utilizes many of the skills I gained at Scripps through my self-designed major. In addition, I am always learning new things about life from the residents. I get to teach the residents about art and music each day by visiting galleries, attending concerts, and guiding other creative activities. The results of my position enrich the lives of each resident and mine as well! I have not lost sight of my dreams
to work with children in an arts venue; however, it has become more of a long-term goal.

Through this experience I learned many things. Family and friends are important guides in the job search.They can help steer you away from jobs that aren’t a great fit and towards others that might be. The emotional support they provide during this unsure period is irreplaceable. I realized that having a goal for my career is an excellent guide for my life.There are
many other wonderful adventures out there waiting to take me places I have never imagined. Although I did not see myself in this position while standing on Elm Tree Lawn, today, I can’t see myself anywhere else.