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What I Learned from My Summer Job at Stanford University

It started with a Craigslist post in the summer of 2017, asking for a typist for a humanities project in the Palo Alto/Stanford area near my Peninsula Bay Area hometown. Having developed some pretty speedy fingers with the use of an iPad during my high school years and a plan to get an English degree here at Davis, I was intrigued and decided to apply.

I got a call a few days later and learned that the employer was an affiliated researcher with Stanford University in the music department. I wasn’t sure what she was doing on Craigslist or why she was even potentially interested in hiring a recent high school graduate like myself. But, believe in yourself…I guess?

1. You can find jobs in the unlikeliest of places

For me, all it took was one glance at the “writing and editing” section of Craigslist and a headline to catch my eye. I know it gets a bad rep because of sketchy posts, but I still continue to check Craigslist pretty frequently for job postings.

2. Jobs are more than their description

“Typing and transcription duties” doesn’t begin to cover what I did for two whole summers. My boss has a young daughter and because I had experience in childcare, I also spent time babysitting her. I was also one of the assistants who had easy access to a car and was frequently on driving duty to get my boss to appointments, summer classes on Stanford’s campus, pick her daughter up from daycare, getting groceries, and pretty much any errand needed. The job ended up being WAY more than just sitting at a computer and typing dictations (although I did plenty of that too).

3. There are some jobs for which you don’t need to interview

I didn’t interview for this job. My boss simply asked me to come down to her house for a few hours and try it out if I was interested. I was, so I did. She was impressed with my typing skills (and they only got better after I started working for her more frequently) and with the fact that I could entertain her 3-year-old daughter as well. There was no interview, just a “when do you want to come next?” and an invitation to the Google doc schedule with the whole team of assistants. It was purely trial and error, and it worked in my favor.

4. You never know the behind the scenes of picking through applicants

Towards the end of the summer or when my boss was running low on assistants (most of the team were college students going back to school in August/September) I’d get to help her search through resumes on Indeed.com or through replies to her Craigslist ad to try and find new additions to the team. My boss solely looked at where people went to school and how far away they lived. That was the criteria. So, don’t be discouraged if you’re turned down with a general rejection letter, keep applying because something will eventually work out.​

Helena is currently a second year studying English at UC Davis and plans to minor in Professional Writing and Technology Management. When she's not furiously writing notes in class, you can find her answering phone calls in the Dean's office at the UC Davis School of Law. She enjoys reading, listening to music, writing, eating (lots of) food, and spending time with family, friends, and her Tri Delta sisters.
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