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A Mountain Perspective

Off to Work

Chelsea Baranoski

(August) Buzzzzz! The alarm clock on my phone goes off at 5:20 AM. Time to eat a doughnut, get a shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, comb and straighten my hair, and put on my makeup. I'm a grown-up now and it's time for me to face the real world: the world of work. I started working full-time two days after my graduation from Mount St. Mary's University. Now, my days are filled with work from 8 AM to 4:30 PM at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections. It's a good thing that I had an 8:00 class this semester to prepare me for the early mornings that lie ahead!

My first day in the working world was anything but normal. When I got to work, all of the lights were out due to a power outage. Nonetheless, I rode the elevator upstairs to the election office. The only person in the office was a man who offered me a chocolate cupcake. And me, being the sweet-tooth that I am, graciously accepted. Soon, my boss came in and gave me my ID. I traded my Mount ID for a Board of Elections ID that day.

My work ID functions like my Mount ID, for it grants me access to the building and displays my headshot. Unfortunately, there is no meal plan on my new ID like there was on my Mount ID. That's right, I still miss my Mount food! After receiving my ID, my boss told me that everyone was downstairs, since there was a little more light down there. So, my first hour in the work force was spent sitting in a cramped circle with my co-workers as my boss handed out awards for those who were employed at the Board for a long time. After an hour of sitting through this makeshift meeting and getting to know the names of my co-workers, the power finally came back on. Now my work day could officially begin.

Edit, read, edit, read some more. This sums up my job at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections. I believe my official job title is temporary election clerk, but my primary responsibility is editing. I just finished helping two other workers edit the Election Judges' Manual, a huge document that details all of the responsibilities, set-up, and closing instructions for the Election Judges who were hired to work the upcoming gubernatorial election.

I had to compare the 2010 version of the Election Judges' Manual with the 2008 version and make any changes that I saw fit, such as fixing capitalization errors, correcting punctuation errors, and adding any important information. Before working at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections, I never knew Election Judges existed. Now, I know that there are many types of Election Judges, including Chief Judges, Voting Unit Judges, Provisional Judges, and Check-in Judges. I also never knew how much work went into preparing for Election Day. Some workers are in charge of absentee voters, while others are in charge of calling election workers and signing them up for training sessions and site locations.

Currently, my task at the Board of Elections includes revising the PowerPoint presentations that the trainers use for the Election Judges, as well as reading a lot of instructors' guides and step-by-step guides for the trainers. I had to write the "specs" for the Election Judges' Manual so that the printer knew how many color, 1-sided, and 2-sided pages were needed to make the book. Since my primary skill is editing, I have also been called upon to edit a letter from the Director of the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections.

My job at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections makes me grateful that I was an English major at Mount St. Mary's University. Thanks to numerous English classes, I learned the skills necessary for editing. I am especially thankful that one of my English professors decided to include grammar in his lessons, since a lot of the editing that I do includes grammatical errors. Without my Mount education, I might not know that punctuation should always be inside of quotations (a common error in documents). In some ways, I still feel like I am in school for I am still reading a lot. All of the reading assignments from my English classes have prepared me for the hundreds of pages of reading I have already plowed through for the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections.

There is one thing that I can say about life after the Mount: I will probably never say those two words: "I'm bored," ever again. Working full time five days a week leaves me so tired that I often come home, eat dinner, relax and watch a movie, and then go to sleep, only to do the same thing the next day. In addition to busying myself at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections, I have also accepted freelance writing positions with the Pasadena Voice and the Severna Park Voice. My primary focus is the Pasadena Voice, since this is my local newspaper.

I currently have two articles that I need to crank out, one on the valedictorian and the salutatorian of my alma mater, Northeast High School, and one on an elementary school's performance of Beauty and the Beast. Furthermore, I have recently completed a copywriting assignment for Kathy Davis Greeting Cards. And to add to my growing list of jobs, I still work my sales associate/cashier job at Aeropostale. All my life people have asked me, "What are you going to do with an English major? Do you want to be a teacher?" Now, I feel that I am proof that English majors can get jobs completely unrelated to teaching. In fact, my editing and writing background, such as my work with Lighted Corners, the Mount's literary magazine, helped me to obtain my job at the Board of Elections. Though my job at the Board of Elections might only last through elections, I am confident that it will open the door for future editing opportunities.

To all those people who get the question "What are you going to do with that major?" don't be discouraged. One day, you will find the job that will make you happy and bring your many gifts and talents to light. Just work hard, network with friends, family, and alumni, and apply to multiple jobs. Everyone, no matter what their major, will have their chance to make their mark in the working world.

Read other articles by Chelsea Baranoski