Sunday, July 29, 2012

What do you do and why? - Megan

What do you do and why?


Megan is my birth sister*. When we met she was working as a clothing designer and was living in another state. Since then she's moved back to Minnesota and taken on a number of roles (whether they were to help pay the bills or to help her get to her larger goal), and soon she leaves for Senegal. She may be 10 years younger than me, but in many ways she is wiser. It may be partly from her outgoing personality, but she learned the value of networking far earlier than I did. Read on to hear her story.

1. What do you do?

Umm....this is odd for me because I have too many titles & what I get paid for runs a very wide range and is ever changing. So on any given day I get paid to be a: Beekeeper, Personal Assistant, and soon-to-be Peace Corps Volunteer.

2. Why did you choose to do this? Have you always wanted to do this? Did you fall into this career or actively take steps to get here? Did you choose it or did it choose you?

After getting laid off twice since getting my undergraduate from the U of M in 2006, in 2009 I applied to the Peace Corps (yes it was long ago). During the application process they asked if I would be willing to work with honey bees, I said yes. Then the thought occurred to me that I should find some experience doing that. So I cold-called/emailed a beekeeper I remember seeing an article about from an electronic newsletter I get. We met soon after at the farmers market and I apprenticed with him over a summer before I started working for him full time for the next few years until I decided I wasn't getting younger, travel bug started to itch and should really do the Peace Corps since the economy was getting any better either.

3. What did you need to do to get here? Did you go to school? If so, was your degree related to what you are doing? Did you do something like an internship or work your way up for years? Did you take advantage of things like Informational Interviewing with those in the field?

My qualifications for assisting a beekeeper were such: not allergic to bee stings, grew up in a rural setting and not afraid of hard work (each honey super is roughly 40lbs & we handle 400+ in a season many times). I have taken a few courses through the U of M on beekeeping & queen rearing aside from being willing to apprentice (working a few days throughout a summer) unpaid for the 1st year and am always reading about it.

I was always asking questions while helping work the bees and have a very high respect for these amazing creatures and the mentors I have that have passed un-written knowledge to me. (I became even more aware of this when taking both classes through the U and very quickly they were reviewing & had other students double my age asking me questions. With 300-400 hives you become very well trained very quickly on nuances of this trade)

4. What would you do if you weren’t doing what you are? Would you do this out of necessity, because you happen to have the skill sets, or because it is your dream job?

If I wasn't doing what I was doing I would most likely figure out how to get a master’s degree funded  or go get my teaching English as a second language certificate and visit a few friends I have abroad while working teaching English to save up a nest egg for grad school.

5. If you could create a job description of what you are doing what would it be?

There are too many things. World traveler, writer, teacher, design researcher, beekeeper (eventually in the countryside of France or Italy with a vineyard)

6. Tell me a little about previous jobs you've had and if you have a degree/schooling/experience in something that isn't related to what you are doing now how did you make that jump?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Clothing Design from the University of Minnesota and have worked on a construction crew, administrative assistant, high end tailor shop associate, marketing consultant, project manager, clothing designer, personal assistant, barista and waitress.

The most common way for me to make a "jump" (might seem like none of the jobs I've had are connected) is simply find someone who does it (usually either run into them at one of my jobs), asked them if I could do an informational interview with them and simply said how much I would enjoy working at a place like that. Note:both cases were for small entrepreneur business owners and I had NO experience before working for them and they were the jobs I learned the most from and was very content in my job.

The informational interviews started because of my curiosity...I would read an article about a crafts person or company and then email them later and ask a million questions. I had found this article (I'm sure I still have it someplace) that passion will make up for any non experience you have, because you can't teach passion but you can teach any monkey how juggle.

To read more about Megan’s upcoming venture check out her blog:

*I’ve talked briefly about being adopted in the past. Megan and I share a mom and some siblings. I met her about 6 years ago along with the rest of my birth family. I’ve never really written the adoption story in detail for the blog, but if people are interested I will – let me know. 

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  1. Megan, your willingness to participate is greatly appreciated! I bet you could write a whole article on the ins and outs of networking.

  2. Love this story! I definitely want to hear more about your adoption.


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