First job often doesn’t lead to a career
What do golf balls, snowcones, hot dogs, Mexican Bean Beetles, windshields and “the usher/candy-counter combo” have in common?
They all brought in a first paycheck for some of Tahoe’s community members.
As summer approaches, many teen-agers will embark on the world of employment for the first time. And though first jobs aren’t always favorite jobs, everyone has to start somewhere.
Mayor Tom Davis wasn’t always a politician. He spent his younger years, driving around on a golf range.
“The first job I did was collecting golf balls on a golf course in San Diego,” Davis said. “I drove one of those tractor-type (contraptions). It was fun until they started hitting me with (the balls). I forgot how much I was paid, but it wasn’t much and I still hate golf.”
Heavenly Ski Resort’s Monica Bandows didn’t earn much on her first job, either.
“I owned a cotton candy/snowcone machine,” said Bandows, who set up shop at carnivals and other town events at Big Bear Lake. “I had a lot of good friends. I gave away a lot of profits. But it was fun. It was a good learning experience.”
Skip Sayre, director of marketing at Harrah’s Tahoe, started out as an usher at a movie theater in Walnut Creek.
“It was the usher/candy-counter combo at El Rey Theater on Main Street,” said Sayre, who was 15 when he entered the work world. “To make extra money I would clean the theater on Saturdays to give the janitor a night off.”
Sayre made $1.35 an hour during what he referred to as “the days of one-screen movie theaters.”
Rochelle Nason, attorney and executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, may have had something in common with Sayre – hot dogs.
“My first real job was working at Oscar’s Hot Dogs in Berkeley,” Nason said. “It’s a terrific burger and hot dog place and I made hot dogs, burgers and shakes for the hungry people of Berkeley, California.”
Nason said she enjoyed working at Oscar’s, even though it was a bit messy.
“My friends would come visit me and I’d be covered with grease from working on the grills,” she said. “So my friends would come in and tease me and buy burgers.”
Lake Tahoe Community College President Guy Lease was paid $1 an hour at his first job.
“My first job was with Pittsburgh Plate Glass when I was in high school. I was working in a warehouse with automotive windshields,” Lease said. “I grew up in Houston and this warehouse center that provided windshields to all the car repair shops in the Houston area.”
Lease had a long-distance girlfriend at the time. Once a week, after 5 p.m., he was allowed to call her from the warehouse.
“The beauty of that job was they had a WATS telephone. We were allowed to call anywhere without a charge,” Lease said.
El Dorado County Sheriff Hal Barker said he had two first jobs.
“My first job ever? I had two really. The first job I ever had was washing cars for 50 cents an hour at the Union 76 Station in Santa Paula. I was 13 or 14 and I loved the job,” Barker said. “The other job was very unique. I was a bean beetle inspector. There was an influx of Mexican bean beetles into the lima bean crops in Ventura. We got paid to find infestations of bean beetles.”
Barker was paid $1.25 an hour, but said he never saw a single beetle.
“In two summers, we never found any infestation and we never found any Mexican bean beetles,” he added.
Ismael Camacho, 17, hopes to someday follow in Barker’s footsteps – the police work, not the beetle inspection.
“I’ll probably become a cop,” said Camacho, who is a Kids Club counselor at the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center. “I love working with kids and helping other people.”
Before working at the Recreation Center, Camacho did some filing at the police department and had some advice to offer kids starting their first jobs.
“Pick a job that’s right for you,” he said. “And basically just go (to an interview) as yourself.”
Sayre offered similar suggestions.
“I’ve been fortunate for the most part to always do jobs that I have enjoyed,” Sayre said. “Look for something to do that you enjoy. Experiment and find out what you like to do.”
Amanda Moreland, a 17-year-old counselor at the recreation center, plans on doing just that.
“I kind of want to run my own business and then go into law,” Moreland said. “You have to do something fun that you’re not going to get tired of.”
Barker also shared a helpful hint.
“I have a tip for kids looking for their first job,” he said. “When you go out and talk to people, convince them that you want to work. Too many people today want a salary. They don’t want a job.”
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