Alma found the San Diego job market competitive after she graduated two years ago with an accounting degree that took her several years to finish. She answered a Craigslist ad for a receptionist position (starting wage $10 per hour) at a growing chiropractic and wellness business. She was the last interviewee from a pool of 40 candidates. With substantial customer-service experience, Alma landed the job and has steadily advanced at the fast-growing firm. She quickly moved from reception into administration and now handles billing and bookkeeping, liaising with insurance companies, and managing the front-desk staffers.
This job is vastly different from those Alma held as she was putting herself through college, first at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and then closer to home at the California State University, Dominguez Hills. Barely making more than minimum wage, she worked as a customer-service representative at a car rental firm and then at a sandwich chain. She says the most frustrating aspects of those work experiences were the management structure and lack of opportunities to earn more. For instance, Alma found the rental firms’ hierarchical structure a hindrance to a stable work schedule. Workers who were slightly more senior had priority when shifts were assigned. This often meant she received fewer hours than she wanted. Moreover, because managers were close to her age and had little management experience, she found it difficult to voice opinions or concerns regarding scheduling practices and workplace conflicts.
In contrast, Alma now shares a small office with the operations manager and receives mentoring, motivation and coaching to troubleshoot problems and prioritize tasks in the practice’s fast-paced environment. With a steady salary and the opportunity for future raises, Alma enjoys more stability, has been able to get a place of her own, and most importantly, sees the job as a resume builder for future work in finance and accounting.