Over winter break, you may remember I read Lauren Graham’s memoir Talking As Fast As I Can.
In one of the chapters, Graham talks about a dinner party Peter Krause invited her to where everyone had to come prepared with an answer to the ice breaker question, “what are all the ways you’ve made money?” I thought that was such an interesting question to ask people no matter how long you’ve known them—I know I’ve taken some pretty odd jobs, and that my friends have, too. Of course, I also thought sharing all the ways I’ve made money would be an interesting blog post so you all could get to know me a little better—and I could get to know you a little better by reading your answers in the comments below.
But then I was at a few happy hours with my coworkers, and realized we have a great repertoire of (somewhat) unique icebreakers we always ask the new folks that join our team. Sure, sometimes we ask common questions like, “what’s one thing no one knows about you?”* But, it’s always more fun/less stress-inducing to ask questions everyone has an answer to that also reveal something about that person’s passions or personality.
(*Does anyone actually have a good answer for this?! My one coworker used to be a Fruit of the Loom child sock model, and it’s just too hard to compete with that answer.)
So, I thought I wrap both of these ideas into a singular blog post by asking and answering some of my favorite ice breaker questions. Don’t be shy about breaking the ice in the comments below—heh, couldn’t resist—and let me know your answers to these questions or any of your go-to ice breakers!
What are all the ways you’ve made money?
Alright, here’s a laundry list of all the ways I’ve made money before my current job, which was my first full-time job after graduation:
- Babysitting—anyone else corner the market as a baby sitter? I think there was a solid three or four years where I spent most of my weekends watching the kids in my neighborhood. I also loved working a good Super Bowl party—those things paid great.
- Tree Top Kids—the first “real” job I ever had was working at a high-end toy store called Tree Top Kids the summer I was 16. I worked there as a sales associate with my two best friends one summer, and y’all, we had the best time. I was paid $6 an hour, and back then, that was more than the cost of a Chipotle burrito bowl.
- High-End Swimwear Boutique—the summer after my freshman year of college, I was freaking out that I didn’t have a summer job. I really wanted something to do with my time, and I wanted to make money. So, I went to the mall down the street from my parent’s house, and no one was hiring seasonal staff. Feeling a bit deflated, I poked around on Craigslist, found a listing for an internship at a high-end swimwear company, submitted a Word document resume, and found myself hired a few days later. This summer was a wild ride as it was a startup in every sense of the word. But, it paid $10 an hour and really taught me to roll up my sleeves and do whatever it takes.
- Non-Profit—the summer after my sophomore year of college, I figured out that my college had a job board and I should look there for internships. Exxon Mobil sponsored internships at non-profits near my parent’s house, and I found one of these 10-week opportunities to be right up my alley. I worked with the non-profit’s thrift shops on their marketing strategy and helped them create promotional videos and flyers, ran their Google AdWords, and assisted the fundraising team with other initiatives they had. Everyone I worked with here was so nice, and the pace was much more manageable than the summer before!
- Glamour—though unpaid at the time, I eventually earned wages for my work here so I’m throwing it in because my time at Glamour was a great learning experience that really helped me figure out what types of projects I wanted to work on at a full-time role and exposed me to so many different aspects of print media and marketing.
- NBC 29—I worked at Charlottesville’s NBC station as a Production Assistant for about 18 months. It came to me in the most random of ways—via a sorority listserv, but I am so glad I took the initiative, reached out, and ultimately, got the job. It was such a cool experience to watch the 5, 6, 10, and 11 pm news being made regularly, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch local news without thinking about what goes on behind the scenes. I worked about 20-30 hours a week, and made $10/hour, so for college me, this was a great way to earn fun money.
What was your first AIM screen name?
Y’all, this is probably my favorite ice breaker to ask fellow Millennials. It doesn’t work for people much older than 33 or under 20, but for all my fellow 80s and 90s kids—this is a true winner to uncover what your friends and coworkers were like in middle school and high school.
My last name is Urban, so I thought I was getting real original when my first AIM screen name was katiesuburban. I grew up in the suburbs, and hope to get back one day, so I feel like it still works ;].
What is a phrase you say all the time
that you wish you could stop saying?
Do you ever catch yourself saying something all. the. time? For me, I think my catch phrases come and go in shifts based on who I’m hanging out with a lot. Humans tend to mimic other’s speech patterns as a way to show affection. But, it seems like no matter what, I’m always saying “Okay, cool!” Especially at work in response to my coworkers—I know, because one of my coworkers has a list of everyone’s catch phrases on his phone and isn’t afraid to point it out when we use ours.
What is your dream city?
As in, if you could live anywhere in the world without the parameters of reality baring down on you, where would you live? Personally, I’d spend half the year in Charleston, South Carolina and half the year in Charlottesville, Virginia. I debate all the time which months I’d spend where, but I would definitely want to spend the fall in Charlottesville and the winter in Charleston. Maybe in 2055 when I retire, this can become a reality ;].