Day in the Life: Spiritual Care Counselor

Job Title: Spiritual Care Counselor

Industry: Hospice

Location: San Antonio, TX

Age: 26

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $50,700/year plus mileage at $0.56/mile, on call at $2/hour and if I get called out to a visit on call, it is 1.25 pay.

Employer Type: Non-profit

Employer Size: Roughly 100 employees

How Long in Current Position: 1 year

Highest Level of Education: Master of Divinity

Path to This Job: I felt a connection with religious work at a very young age.  I earned a B.A. in Theology and went on to a Master of Divinity in order to be a church pastor.  During my second year internship, I found that my favorite part of the job was visiting our sick and dying members.  After graduation, I applied to pastor positions, but it can be very difficult to find a congregation willing to hire a woman.  I remembered how much I enjoyed visiting the sick and dying, so I decided to make a full-time career out of it.

A typical day at work:

6:00am: Wake up and play around until 7:30 am.

7:30am: Switch on my work phone.  I am not expected to be in the office at 8 am when I technically begin work, but I am expected to be available if someone needs me right at 8.  Therefore, the work phone must be on. 

8:00am: Begin paperwork and planning my day.  Eventually leave to visit my first patient.

9:00am: This is typically the very earliest I would see a patient.  I see patients in their own homes or in a nursing facility, so they are very much on their own schedule.  Most patients do not wake up until around 10 am.  Between 9 am and 4 pm, I will be driving around our service area of 100 miles seeing patients.  I typically drive around 50 miles a day.  Every so often we will have a staff meeting in the office, but when there is no meeting, there is generally no reason to go to the office.  I spend the entire day either in my car or with a patient. When I am with a patient or family member, I provide the typical religious services such as communion, anointing, and prayer.  I also can provide grief counseling and coping strategies.  A lesser known part of my job is connecting the patient with a clergy member of their own faith tradition.  My least favorite part of my job is when my boss needs someone to help with a new patient signing the admission paperwork and I get voluntold.

5:00pm: Turn my work phone off.  The only exception is if I am on call, which can be either Monday-Thursday, or Friday-Sunday, once a month.  On call is 24-hour availability with the commitment to visit a patient or family member if the nurse in charge deems fit. 

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Day in the Life: Direct Marketing Executive


Job Title: Direct Marketing Executive

Industry: Charity/Non-Profit

Location: London, UK

Age: 23

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: £26,000 base salary + annual travel loan to pay for my oyster card (roughly £1,400). The free travel is in place of a London weighted salary, so lower than what it really should be, but, I love not having to pay for the tube.

Employer Type: Non-profit

Employer Size: Roughly 100 employees

How Long in Current Position: 1 year and 4 months.

Highest Level of Education: Bachelors degree

Path to This Job: I graduated from my degree in English Lit with no idea what I wanted to do, and started applying for random jobs under pressure from my parents. I knew marketing was probably an obvious fit for my skillset but was just so uninspired by the idea of selling products. I landed a three month unpaid internship with one of the biggest charities in the UK, decided to give it a go, and had a great time! From there, I moved into a fundraising assistant role for a few months and now my marketing executive job. There are elements that I like, and elements that I don’t. I love writing so push to do as much of that as possible (rather than outsourcing), and just put up with the data and budgets side as part of the job. I wish there was room to be a little more creative, as charities are very conservative on budget and risk-taking, but I can’t really complain as it’s a great place to work and I haven’t sold my soul. Yet!

A typical day at work:

I usually get up around 6:30am and get to work at around 20 past 8 – my commute is 50 minutes. The charity sector is quite hot on work-life balance, so the latest I’ll ever work is half 6 – Usually it’s 5pm. I’ve actually tried to stay later several times when I’ve been busy, but they literally lock the doors and make you go home. We have the odd evening event that runs late, but we get TOIL [Ed note: time off in lieu] to make that time up.

8:20am: I take the first half hour when I get in to eat breakfast at my desk, checking and replying to urgent/easy emails, and catching up with my manager on project updates. I always start the day by writing a to-do list in order of priority.

9:00am: I’m definitely more focused in the mornings, so spend the first couple of hours writing copy for an upcoming marketing appeal – reviewing the interviews I did with case studies previously and working them into an engaging story. This is my favorite part of my job, as I get to tell the stories of some really inspiring people.

11:00am: Sit down for a meeting with our digital specialist to go through the build of some Facebook ads and a landing page. I provide the copy, images, and explain how I want it to look. They build.

11:30am: Have an hour-long meeting with the senior staff: Our CEO and directors. They have to sign off every direct mail campaign we do before it can go out. We work through my copy and the design agencies mock up, and I track changes. It sometimes turns into a bit of an argument so I have to negotiate and explain certain decisions very diplomatically. Our CEO is a micro-manager, but also doesn’t know how to do marketing. It’s interesting.

1:30-2:30pm: Lunch. I always bring lunch from home and eat in the office kitchen whilst chatting to coworkers. Then, I try to get outside for a walk for the last half hour, as I find my eyes get a bit tired from looking at screens all day if I don’t. If the weather is truly too miserable, I leave my phone at my desk and read my book instead.

2:30pm: Call the design agency and feedback the changes from this morning’s meeting verbally, then mark them up on a pdf and send via email. Update the schedule to account for artwork time.

3:00pm: Fill out various briefs for the upcoming mailing: Fulfillment brief for ‘thanking and banking’, data brief for ‘who are we mailing’, laser brief for the printers to personalize certain parts of the copy. Each one takes between 30 – 60 minutes.  

4:30pm: Spend the last hour, when my brain is essentially switched off, doing some admin. This includes invoices, scheduling meetings and building costs/income reports.

5:30pm: Head home!

READERS, SUBMIT YOUR DAY: The Career Files Submission Form

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Day in the Life: IT Project Manager


Job Title: IT Project Manager

Industry: Banking & Financial Services

Location: Chicago, IL

Age: 37

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $90,000 annually. Options to enroll in health, dental, vision, and life insurance as well as a 401(k) but no matching.

Employer Type: Corporate finance

Employer Size: 100,000+ employees

How Long in Current Position: 1 year. This is my 7th year in project management.

Highest Level of Education: Bachelor’s degree and 3 professional designations/certifications

Path to This Job: My first non-food service or retail job was as an administrative assistant at a corporation. After six years I got promoted into low-level project management, and have worked in corporations ever since.

A typical Tuesday at work:

7:00am: I’ve been starting my work days at 7 for at least 10 years. My first hour is spent pouring coffee from my thermos and sipping it while going through today’s diary and emails that have popped up while the UK has been online. I start with 105 unread messages, including notices of wiki edits, new Jira tickets [Ed. note: a project tracking software], and a number of questions and requests. I’m going to have a lot of meetings today, which is typical of a Tuesday.

8:00am: First meeting. I tear into my banana and dial in, and we run a little late as my New York team member is delayed getting in. Meantime London and I chitchat about the weather. “Is Chicago really windy?” (Yes, but that’s not the reason behind the nickname). When New York arrives, we start our stand-up meeting, a key practice in agile projects where we share successes, next day plans, and roadblocks. As the scrum master it’s my job to escalate the bad things, celebrate the good things, and keep the team on task. Fortunately, nothing bad today. I slash through half my email of old tickets and wiki notices.

8:30am: After the meeting I call New York about our specific role’s work today. I have meetings to schedule with program teams that won’t receive any funding next year and talk about how they’re going to wrap up their work. Then I get them scheduled.

9:00am: A bit of busywork, but greatly useful and welcome: I update a spreadsheet with all tollgate dates in the next six months. These are crunch times when documents, designs, test cases, sign-offs, etc. get reviewed by Quality Assurance and tell the team they are free to proceed. Getting these projects ready for tollgates is like 50% of what I’ve been spending my time on this quarter. I eat half my Clif bar.

11:00am: Before the queue for the microwave begins, I warm up my frozen pesto and pasta entree, fill my water bottle (and then empty it by half before refilling), and take my lunch to my desk while preparing for the afternoon of back-to-back meetings. After the pasta I finish off the second half of a large box of mango and a handful of cheese crackers as well as the other half of my Clif bar. That seems like a lot but I’m going to need it in a bit.

12:00pm: The last of my UK team checks in with me before signing off for the night. No roadblocks. I turn right around and dial into a meeting 3 minutes late to argue (albeit politely) with a project team that doesn’t see why they need to redo any paperwork now that they’ve been extended into 2019. My QA perspective says that something needs to document that their 2019 work will literally not break the bank, they push back. Time to escalate to my management.

12:30pm: Knock out replies to more emails before my next meeting. This one is about upcoming changes—big ones—to a bank-wide policy. I drink more water to stop from being snarky; this is the eighth meeting about this, we’re done, any more time in a meeting is a waste of our time. The call ends late, again, and I dash off to make a fast cup of coffee from the break room before I get into my next call.

1:00pm: This is an info session to a very large and impatient audience. I dial in, go on mute, and sit back with my notebook and pen, taking notes. I’ve sat through this presentation twice now and will sit in it again, because it will be my job to understand this new stuff thoroughly and be able to defend it. Blerg.

2:00pm: The Q&A makes the session run over. I leave that one early to make this one on time: a regular meeting with a smaller project team that needs extra hand-holding to get their work up to standard. Luckily my lead developer knows this well and runs the meeting. I’m mostly there to “keep him honest,” he says, and instill about 1% fear and incentivize the team to show up and respond. I add a thing or two to his findings that he overlooked, but we have a good relationship, he is not offended when I do this, and I’m careful to do so anyway.

2:30pm: Done with meetings, and I mean to sit down and get some work done. Fortunately, my other project team’s systems architect has new design diagrams for me to review before I hold a meeting with the project stakeholders for their sign-off. I have a few questions that I send to him in an email.

3:30pm: I’m just going to turn off my brain now. I tend to not schedule anything for the last half hour of the day, so I can set up my next day in terms of blocking off time to work and let people IM me at the “last minute” before I leave, and sure enough, someone does with a policy question. Fortunately, it’s an easy answer, and I log off of IM shortly after so I can scan my email one more time to see if there’s anything I missed. One or two things get sent to Hyderabad to research why a software is throwing an error. I lock up and write myself a note to bring my laptop charger for my second workstation into the office so I can get it updated.

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Day in the Life: Designer


Job Title: Designer

Industry: Printing

Location: United Kingdom

Age: 58

Gender: Male

Salary/Benefits: £8 / hr, 26 hrs per week flexible

Employer Type: Private company

Employer Size: 3 employees

How Long in Current Position: 7 years

Highest Level of Education: University Diploma

Path to This Job: Amateur Fanzine artwork and printing > University Diploma in Printing > Hot Metal Typesetting > Litho Printer > Typesetting on Mac > Graphic Design on Mac > Imagesetting Film Output > PrePress > Graphic Design.

I chose this field because I am fascinated by the processes of printing and design, by the combination of art and science.

A typical day at work:

7:00am: Get up.

9:00am: I have a leisurely breakfast and leave the house at 9am. I usually walk to work.

10:00am: I start work with a large mug of tea each morning. Lunch is taken while I work, at my desk. Every day is different, we are a small firm and we do a lot of small run jobs on digital presses.

I do a range of things from preparing supplied artwork to creating artwork from scratch. I sometimes have to explain to customers why their supplied artwork is not good enough. I often have to recreate existing logos or artwork because the originals are unavailable. We print a range of things from business cards to 72-page catalogs. We do a lot of NCR which is something of a niche for us.

I have enough time in between jobs to read / post on forums for prepress and designers most days. I get on very well with my boss and co-workers but we don’t socialize outside work.

3:30pm: Leave work for the day.

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Day in the Life: Administrative Specialist

Job Title: Administrative Specialist

Industry: Education

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Age: 36

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $33,600 / Net: $24,936 / Benefits: 11.9% taken out for ASRS Retirement, have a la carte healthcare where I take home an extra $20 per month, vacation and sick leave available as it accrues.

Employer Type: Government

Employer Size: Large; my school is part of 10 Community Colleges across the District

How Long in Current Position: 2 years in April

Highest Level of Education: Bachelors plus some grad school

Path to This Job:I come from a long, long retail history and sort of lucked out by getting in with the city government in my previous city. My now husband was moving to Phoenix so I applied to anything in Phoenix that would keep me in the Arizona State Retirement System and landed on this role.

A typical day at work:

4:30am: We wake up every day (except Sunday) at 4:20am since my husband starts at 5am and getting up with him that early makes it possible for me to hit the gym before I start work at 7:30am. After my husband is out the door I get my things together, feed the crying cats, clean the litter and head to the gym.

5:00am: I usually I get to the gym around 5am, work out for an hour, either running on the treadmill for upwards of five miles, or weight training. I get ready for work at the gym since my gym is conveniently located across the street from my job. I get out of the gym usually a little before 7:30am so I call my mom most mornings from the school parking lot to catch up on my way to the office.

8:00am: I drink a green spinach and banana smoothie every morning with hot tea at 8am like clockwork.

9:00am: When the weather is nice I take a break around 9am to go for a walk, the campus I work on is really nice for walks (when it’s not summer and 117 degrees).

12:00pm: I usually take lunch around 12pm but a lot of days I just eat fast at my desk and then go run whatever errands have accumulated.

My work flow ranges from crazy hectic busy, during the semester, to much more slow when the faculty and students are gone. Since I am an administrative specialist, technically a project assistant, my tasks range from outreach to budget reconciliation, report writing, data analysis and event planning and everything in between.

4:00pm: Work ends for the day.

READERS, SUBMIT YOUR DAY: The Career Files Submission Form

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Day in the Life: Senior Clinical Research Coordinator


Job Title: Senior Clinical Research Coordinator

Industry: Clinical Research

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Age: 34

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $60,000 per year

Employer Type: Small for-profit private family owned business

Employer Size: 12 employees

How Long in Current Position: 4 years

Highest Level of Education: Bachelors

Path to This Job: My undergrad degree is in anthropology and biology. I decided I wanted a different job my junior year of college and kind of randomly got the next job that would let me work nights and weekends, and it turned out to be a research assistant job with the Department of Family Medicine. I knew lots about how you develop drugs, but nothing about what happens in between inventing the drug and how it gets on the pharmacy shelf – that’s where clinical research comes in.

A typical day at work:

8:00-8:30: I generally get to work between 8 and 8:30. My job is very different day to day depending on my patient load and what kind of trials I have.

How I spend my day:

  • Usually I have patient visits in the morning.
  • My patients schedule directly with me, so I can make my own schedule in a way.
  • If these are returning patients, the visits are generally shorter. I’ll take their blood pressure, get someone to draw blood, collect urine samples if needed, ask them about how their health has been since the last time I saw them, give them new bottles/syringes of medication, collect their medication diaries, and administer any other procedures that need to be done at that visit (questionnaires, EKG, etc.)
  • If they’re new patients, I’ll usually spend two to three hours with them, going over what the study is about, what they can expect, etc., and then taking a full medical/surgical history, list of medications, etc.
  • I spend about 15 hours a week with patients and the rest doing paperwork or solving various problems. Each study site is given a protocol (which is usually thick on the medical/statistical part and thin on operational details) that guides us in conducting the study, but there’s still lots of little pieces to coordinate.

4:30: I don’t work weekends, and I rarely work after 5. I do check my email after hours sometimes. I recently had a baby and am on a 3 day a week work schedule but previously worked Monday-Friday, 8 to 4:30.

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Site Update

Dear Readers:

As you may have noticed, has been quiet over the past several months. That’s about to change – beginning in January, we will continue posting a “day in the life” at work submissions two times a week. Check in every Monday and Wednesday for a new post. Or subscribe to our weekly digest by completing the fields at the right to receive both posts in one email every Thursday.

In addition, we will be posting bonus content, including resources and tips to help you build your career.

We would love to hear from you!

Submit your Day in the Life at Work using our Google Form: The Career Files Submission Form

Email us about any topics you’d like to see covered on the blog at

A Day in the Life: Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Industry: Education

Location: Alberta, Canada

Age: 38

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $93,000 CAD, with good benefits (full drug coverage, $1500/yr dental, $500/yr for paramedical (massage, chiropractic etc). And health spending account.

Employer Type: Public independent school

Employer Size: Large. About 45 teachers, and 15 admin/office staff.

How Long in Current Position: 12 years

Highest Level of Education: Bachelor of education, secondary

Path to This Job: I started university in the faculty of arts, in psychology. Unfortunately the psych degree had a lot of math (stats) and math is not my friend. I like to read and write and I like to talk about my passions, so I transferred to education.

A typical day at work:

6:30: Alarm goes off, I hit snooze.

7:10: I listen to the news and get up. Let the dog out, wash face -brush teeth etc. Hair, makeup, get dressed, make lunch, out the door between 7:40-7:50.

8:00-8:10: Arrive at school, get my classroom ready for the day (announcements etc).

8:30: Students in homeroom. Take attendance, show announcements on video, give other info as needed.

8:40: Starting at 8:40, I teach four 80-min classes over the course of the day, in the humanities. My students are in grades 7-8 so there is lots of drama and management in a day. There are three recesses (two short ones, am and pm), and one long one at lunch. I have to supervise at recesses, help clear the halls, run meetings at lunch, call home, touch base with other teachers, all in a day.

Over the course of a week I will also plan for the week, do all my own copying, call home again if needed, do all my marking (there is A LOT in the humanities), help plan and run extra-curriculars (such as dances and field trips). Over the year I attend professional development. I also am helping to negotiate a collective agreement, and I attend meetings with my union.

4:30-5:00: Leave school, depending on how much marking I have.

Bonus! Best/Worst:

The best thing about my job is the stability. By and large my weeks are predictable, although the days can be very different. I love what I teach and most of my students are fantastic.

The worst is the parents, who seem to think they know how teaching is because they were students once, too. And the bureaucracy that comes with working as a government employee.

READERS, SUBMIT YOUR DAY: The Career Files Submission Form

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A Day in the Life: News producer

Job Title: News Producer

Industry: Broadcast journalism

Location: Boise, ID

Age: 22

Gender: Female

Salary/Benefits: $15/hour, fulltime.

Employer Type: Company

Employer Size: Large. Owns newspapers, news stations, food network, etc.

How Long in Current Position: 6 months

Highest Level of Education: Sophomore in college

Path to This Job: I always liked to write, so it seemed like a good fit.

A typical day at work:

1:00am: I wake up at 1 a.m., normally falling asleep at around 5 p.m. the day before.

2:00am: I get to work at about 2 a.m., and start looking at what local news we had in our newscasts the night before. After I get a basic idea of what I have from local, I put a rough copy into my show so I get an idea on how much time I have for national stories.

After that, I take a look at what national stories that I have, which is normally a lot. I judge by what is most important and crucial for the public to know, but at the end of the day it is my decision.

Once I have my show all put together, I go down to the studio and time it out so nothing goes over what it should time-wise. I don’t have any form of a break, but I do have a lot of downtime if I finish my show early.

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