A Day in the Life: ER Nurse

Job Title: Registered Nurse – emergency room

Industry: Healthcare

Location: New Jersey

Age: 28

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: About $75,000/ year. I can make more if I choose to by picking up overtime.

Employer Type: Hospital group, non-profit

Employer Size: Huge. They are the largest employer in several of the counties in my state.

How Long in Current Position: 5 years

Highest Level of Education: 2 Bachelor’s Degrees

Path to This Job: Bachelor of science in nursing, which qualified me to sit for the NCLEX, the test for RN licensure.

A typical day at work:

I work 7:00am-7:30pm three days a week, which is full time.

5:40: Get up at this time, which gives me enough time to shower, eat, pack a lunch, and drive to work.

6:55: I arrive around 6:55 most days so I can get to my locker, change my shoes, and put my bag away before the shift change report from the night nurses, which usually lasts about 20-25 minutes. I get an actual “lunch break” where I can leave the unit with another nurse caring for the patients in my assignment about 30% of the time. Most days I pack food that can be easily/ quickly eaten and just eat when I can.

7:00: Shift starts. Once I get to work there is no typical day for me. Some days are all easy fixes and boo boos – wounds that need to be sutured, sprained ankles, belly pain that turns out the be gas. Other days every one of my patients is crashing at one point or another- we see motor vehicle collisions (“MVCs”), gunshots, drowning, strokes, burns, septic shock, overdoses, suicide attempts, cardiac arrests – sometimes several of these at the same time.

Most days are a combination of the “walk in the park” and “everything is going to sh*t” days. We have fantastic teamwork in my department. We would not be able to provide the care that we do without it.

As I am a senior nurse in my department, sometimes my assignment is to be “charge nurse”, which I am paid more to do. The charge nurse role does not have a patient assignment of their own, but coordinates all staff in the department, triages arriving ambulances, takes incoming patient reports from paramedics, and assists other nurses in caring for critically ill patients.

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A Day in the Life: HR Coordinator

Job Title: HR Coordinator

Industry: Public Relations

Location: Southern California

Age: 26

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $45k. Should get a decent bump in a few months on my anniversary. Company contributes to some of the employee premium for medical and dental. Small 401k match.

Employer Type: Private company

Employer Size: 200+ employees

Time in Current Position: Almost 2 years

Highest Level of Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Path to This Job: Graduated college with a degree in Psych & Criminal Justice as I was looking to go to law school. After an internship at the public defender during undergrad, I felt unsure about the law school path- at least at that time. Did I want to go into $$$ debt for something I wasn’t 110% sure on? So after working as a nanny in undergrad and little “real” work experience, I grabbed the first job I could at a call center working in benefits after graduating. That along with approx. a year at an office job landed me in HR. I’ve chugged along for almost 2 years now, but it’s just not for me. I’m back on the law school track, studying for the LSAT and applying for 2019 admission. While the grass is never greener, I am not challenged by HR and always come back to my desire to work in the legal field. Now’s the time to make a change.

A typical day at work:

5:50: Snooze a few times then up with the pup and out for our morning walk. Boil water and grind coffee for french press, do my 4 minute make-up routine and get dressed. My typical breakfast is a hash I make in a big batch (sweet potatoes, ground sausage, bell peppers and onions) plus an over easy egg.

7:15: Off to work and eat while driving. Morning drive only takes about 10-15 minutes. Try to arrive at work by 7:30 (30 minutes early, since I take a long lunch to work out). Sip my coffee and dive into emails.

8:00-8:30: Usually have new hire orientation on Mondays. Each new hire gets their own orientation unless the same class of employees (interns, exempt, or hourly) start on the same day – this gets really old but it’s easy enough.

9:00-11:00: Work on EEO reporting and pull reporting for payroll due this week. I handle two payrolls so I’m always working on some aspect for the next pay period. Answer a few calls.

11:00: Audit and verify paperwork for remote employees (under our sister entity – anywhere from 50-200+ new hires weekly).

11:55: Change into workout clothes in the bathroom and drive to one of my favorite running spots. Rush home after 3.5 sweaty miles.

1:10ish: Take my dog out for a potty break, give her some hugs, take the world’s fastest shower and change back into work clothes. Make a smoothie bowl with lots of almond butter and paleo granola. Freshen my hair up with dry shampoo (my daily lifesaver) and try to avoid spilling my bowl. I squeeze so much into my lunch break that it’s always a rush – but I love working out at this time and can still make my dog a priority.

1:40-2:30: Review resumes and set up phone screens. Prep materials for one of our employee recognition programs.

2:30-4:00: Respond to UI claims and verification of employment forms. Our sister company operates in 48 states, making my pile of daily mail the least fun part of my job. Hoping the tax issues I’ve been cleaning up from a past employee are taken off my plate soon.

4:00-5:00: Check the clock every few minutes until freedom.

5:00-5:30: Sit in traffic for around 30 minutes and arrive home to my overly energetic dog. Take her out for a quick pee and feed her dinner. Head out for our long walk – she chooses our route with the biggest freaking hill, but hey it’s her favorite (#dogmomlife).

6:15: Home from our walk and chop veggies and chicken to cook on the stove for pot pie while I make the crust. The crust is basically Kerrygold and almond/tapioca flour – it doesn’t come out very pretty but it’s so damn good.

7:00-8:00: While the pot pie is in the oven I jump in the shower and change into pjs. Cuddles and show time with my pup on the couch while avoiding her trying to steal my food. Okay, I do give her a taste.

8:00-9:00: Get in some LSAT prep. I try my best to study at least 30 minutes a day, but often this gets left to the weekend when I’m exhausted after work.

9:00ish: In bed and lights out by 9:30.


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A Day in the Life: Fundraiser at a Nonprofit

Job Title: Fundraising Associate

Industry: Nonprofit

Location: Indiana

Age: 26

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $45,000/year. Health and dental insurance covered. 3% 401k matching.

Employer Type: Non-profit organization

Employer Size: less than 100 employees

Time in Current Position: 2 years

Highest Level of Education: Bachelors

Path to This Job: I spent more than a year after college temping and got placed at a nonprofit organization. I hit it off with their head of fundraising, who hired me for a fulltime position when she joined another organization. I’ve been in my job for about 2 years now and love it.

A typical day at work:

6:00: Wake up to dog breath and take my pup out for a walk before getting myself ready for work and making some scrambled eggs for breakfast. I like to spend a little quiet time reading a book before I head to work. This week I’m reading In the Woods by Tana French. So far, it’s really good.

 7:45: Give the pup one last hug before I head out the door to work. My roommate is in grad school and has a pretty flexible schedule, so she’ll walk the dog during the day while I’m at work.

 8:00: So glad I have a super short commute. Settled in at my desk. I have a bunch of calls to make this morning to ask for donations to a silent auction we’re hosting in a couple months. I leave a lot of voicemails.

 10:00: Time for my weekly one-on-one with my boss. We chat about our big fundraiser gala coming up in a couple of months.

 10:30:  Meet with our marketing director to talk about our next direct mail campaign. We still send out snail mail requests for donations even though a lot of people donate online these days.

11:30: Spend some time on paperwork updating our records on fundraising outreach.

12:30: Lunchtime!  I pack salads on Sunday night and bring one each day during the week. This week I’ve got spinach, radishes, carrots, sunflower seeds, and hard boiled eggs with a honey mustard dressing. Yum! I hang out in the break room and chat with some coworkers while eating.

1:30: Spend some time working on posts for our website and updates for our quarterly donor newsletter.

3:30: Check our department email account and respond to a few questions, mostly from people who want to volunteer with our organization. I share responsibilities for managing our volunteers with a coworker so I copy her on my emails responding to the prospective volunteers.

4:00: Make a few more calls for the gala. I don’t love talking on the phone, so I try to break up the phone calls in bits and pieces throughout the day.

5:00:  Wrap up my last call and pack up my stuff.

5:20: Arrive at home and let the dog out. We go on a nice long walk, which will count as my exercise for the day because I have plans tonight. Give the dog her dinner and fix a snack for myself before heading out to pick up a couple of friends on the way to pub trivia. I’m DD tonight so I stick to diet coke and apps while we play. We do pretty well – third out of ten teams!

9:00: Home. Let the dog out one last time and hang out with my roommate for a while for heading to bed around 11:00.

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A Day in the Life: Associate Attorney

Job Title: Associate Attorney

Industry: Law

Location: New York, NY

Age: 32

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $280,000 plus yearly bonus (mid five-figures last year). No 401 matching.

Employer Type: Private law firm

Employer Size: 600 attorneys, a few thousand employees overall

Time in Current Position: Approx. 6 years

Highest Level of Education: Juris Doctor

Path to This Job: This is my first job out of law school. I became a lawyer because I loved research and writing and I had a vague idea I wanted to “help people.” I took out loans to pay for school and was fortunate to get a job with a big law firm right out of school, which allowed me to pay off my loans while living in NYC. I’ve been with the same firm since graduation.

A typical day at work:

7:00: Alarm goes off. Groan and hit snooze.
7:15: Get out of bed and head to the gym in my building for a quick workout. If I don’t work out in the morning, it’s not going to happen. My work schedule is too unpredictable. Read and respond to work emails on the treadmill.
8:00: Back in my apartment to get ready for work.
9:00: Out the door. I pick up a coffee on my way to the office.
9:30: At my desk and I look over my to do list for the day before digging in. I also enter my time from the day before. We have to record our time in 6-minute intervals. I keep a running list on a pad of paper throughout the day and enter it into our firm’s time recording software every morning. It’s as fun as it sounds.
9:45-11:00: I’m a litigator and a couple of my cases are in the middle of discovery, meaning I spend a lot of time on the phone negotiating with opposing counsel. I had a long call yesterday for one of my cases so I spend some time this morning reading over my notes from that call and drafting a follow-up letter to opposing counsel outlining our final positions. I send it to the partner on the case for review.
11:00-11:20: Feeling restless so I wander down the hallway to chat with a coworker.

11:20-1:00: Work on a draft motion to compel discovery from our adversary in another case, answering emails as they come in. You definitely need to be able to multi-task at this job!
1:00-1:30: Another associate swings by on her way to lunch and I grab my coat and head with her to the fancy food court around the corner. Grab a taco bowl for lunch.
1:30-2:00: Partner had a couple questions about my draft letter. I address those and send the final letter to opposing counsel.
2:00-2:30: Meet with a team of contract attorneys I supervise. They’re spending their days reviewing documents produced by the other side in one of my cases. We talk about what they’re finding in the documents and how those issues fit into broader case.
2:30-3:00: Head over to a partner’s office to sit in on a call with the client to discuss some big picture case strategy.
3:00-5:00: Review some research a junior associate sent me for the motion I was working on earlier. I give her a call to discuss some questions I have and ask her to investigate a few more issues.
5:00: Opposing counsel in one of my cases files a surprise letter motion. Great, there goes my evening. Send it around to the team. We have 3 days to respond, so the partners want to see an outline of our response ASAP, as our client will need to review before we file. I call up the other associates on the case so we can figure out how to divide and conquer.
8:00: After a couple hours of researching and writing, we circulate the outline to the partners. I shut down my computer and head home.
8:30: Get home and greet my SO, who has been traveling for work. We throw together a salad from random stuff in the fridge and catch up over dinner.
9:30: Fire up the laptop to respond to emails about the motion and our reply.
11:00: Emails have slowed down, so I put my computer away and get ready for bed.
11:30: My SO starts last week’s episode of The Good Place but I conk out a few minutes in.

My favorite thing about my career: The challenge. There’s always something new to learn about a client, a case, or practicing law, and my responsibilities grow each year.

My least favorite thing about my career: The hours can be rough. Obviously I’m super well compensated, but in return, I’m expected to be on call all the time. It can be hard on personal relationships and your health.

Skills necessary for my career: Attention to detail, adaptability, ability to think critically, and an ability to work hard and work fast.

When I was a junior employee new to the workforce, I wish I had known: Nobody cares about your career as much as you. Don’t just wait for opportunities, make them for yourself.

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