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First Jobs and Lessons Learned

The Alex & Red Team Honors Labor Day With Their Best and Worst Jobs

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Prison X-ray tech. Door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesperson. Florist. Summer camp dish washer.

Before the Alex & Red team were successfully recruiting leaders for executive roles, they were gaining experience in those all-important first jobs, laying the foundation for the future.

It’s been 129 years since Congress officially declared the first Monday in September a national holiday, and as we recognize the contributions workers have made to America’s prosperity this Labor Day, we asked team members for their best and worst first jobs, going back to where it all started.

Jane Howze

Managing Director, The Alexander Group

I worked my way through college, holding a variety of jobs including baking, chocolate chip cookies at the college cafeteria (got fired for that one-can’t cook), working as a key punch operator at the computer center, and the worst was working as a waitress at Shoney's Big Boy restaurant. I had to hitchhike to work in my brown uniform, and I proudly wore a big pin that said, "Ask me about my strawberry pie.”

John Lamar

Managing Director, The Alexander Group

"While in college at The University of Texas, I ran a small floral shop in the lobby of the Driskill Hotel. To this day I can still make a mean funeral spray."

Abby Buchold

Senior Research Assistant

My worst job was working in a deli. The blades on those meat slicers are sharp---ask me how I know. I still have nightmares about that night.

Beth Ehrgott

Managing Director, The Alexander Group

I actually sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door one summer during college. Can you imagine tiny me lugging a heavy vacuum cleaner in the heat of the summer and knocking on doors to give demos for strangers? I was determined and it built character! LOL!

Brittnee Gradney

Accounting Manager

Working at Tor R Us---need I say more.

Pam DeLuca

Senior Consultant

I worked at a Ski Slope--fixing boots and skis--during the winter of my senior year in college, not a glamorous job by any stretch!

My favorite job--working at The GAP during college--and scoring 30% off of very marked down post season clothing!

Amanda Brady

Managing Director/Chief Operating Officer

I can make a beautiful, three-tier DQ soft serve with a perfect curly-cue on top. Dipped in chocolate. At least I could at 16.

Jonathan Daniels

Alex & Red Associate

"I have a sweet spot (figurative & literally) for my college Ice Cream Parlor job. It was relatively laid back, and I made a lot of friends in the process. Once, I ran to a business internship talk in my work apron and got free swag from Ernst & Young because the Houston Managing Partner thought I was “a great example of a working student they look for at EY” in a room full of people in suits."

Bob Freeman

Senior Executive Assistant, The Alexander Group

Medical records tech and sub-X-ray tech at a prison hospital in Angleton, Texas. It was a pretty cool job once I walked through nine locked gates. I had worked in X-Ray at a hospital before that, and one day after x-raying an inmate’s hand after he punched a concrete wall (using my habit from the free world), after I checked the films, I said, “You’re free to go.” The look he gave me I will never forget.

I wish I had my IBM Selectric still!

John Mann

Managing Director

Worst Job: Skeet loader at the Waterloo Gun & Bocci Club. At 12 or 13 (I can’t remember) I sat in a dark pit for eight hours in the summer loading clay skeet on a mechanical skeet thrower.

Best job: Working the front door of Birraporetti’s on Friday and Saturday nights. At 15, I was the youngest bouncer in town (thankfully the bar had an off duty officer nearby.)

Alisha Hathaway

Managing Director

Worst Job: Dishwasher at sleepaway summer camp. All alone in a huge kitchen washing HUNDREDS of dishes with camp food – what does that mean? It means nobody likes the food, so you are literally up to your elbows in soggy potatoes, rolls, pasta, bacon etc. But it was required if you wanted to be a counselor, so paid my dues!

Best Job: Who remembers the J. Peterman Catalog on Seinfeld?? Remember the pithy descriptions that each product had? Things like Elaine’s “A fine, almost terry-cloth like feeling, five-button placket, relaxed fit. Innocence and mayhem at once.” I worked for a company called “Upscale” which was essentially the same as J. Peterman when I was in college. And my job was to write the signage and come up with the irreverent descriptors. So fun!

Kyle Robinson

Research Director

I have to say that my worst job by far was the summer I spent working as a server at California Pizza Kitchen. I had always heard the rumors about working in the food service industry, but nothing can truly prepare you for working in the food service industry. I dreaded going to work every day. You just knew at the start of every shift you would be mistreated in some way. And you couldn’t say anything about it because your pay was totally dependent on how satisfied the customer was with your service.

I lost track of the amount of times I was left a $1 tip because of a “deflated salad” or “weak drink.” The worst are the people who dine-and-dash. Many people may not realize this, but the person responsible for covering the cost of that meal is the server responsible for that table. It comes out of their tips for that shift. Tips that servers depend on, because let’s remember, they only make a base pay of $2.13 per hour. The only positive outcome from that job was that I learned to ALWAYS value the work and personhood of every service industry worker.

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