• Lucia Joyce

Non Transferable Job Skills

I'm pretty good at getting jobs.

My first job ever (besides delivering flyers with my mom and brother at an age I can't even recall) was a part time 'Sandwich Artist' at the Subway in Leduc, AB. I did my interview, at 15, the summer after Grade 9...in rollerblades. In the mornings I washed dishes and peeled white mystery cheese off of preassembled blocks (cheese loaves, we called them). Eventually I graduated to handling the bread and managing cash. I was a decent worker, but I also snuck little pepperoni and salami snacks for myself when business was slow, and would occasionally fill a card with sub stamps to use at a different location. I liked being around food, and customer service came naturally to me. I liked getting to know the older ladies who worked the weekday lunch rush. They were sassy, but worked hard.

After high school, I taught dance at studios in 2 neighboring cities, supervised kids at daily and weekly camps for the City of Edmonton, and worked my way up to hourly manager at Outback Steakhouse. Getting jobs became my job.

I have made the rounds pushing the dabber cart in a bingo hall, typed up scanned documents for my mom's office, babysat neighbor kids, and drilled backup dances for a Michael Jackson impersonator. When I worked on a cruise ship, I danced in shows, trained in mandatory safety drills, taught English to the Ukrainian string quartet, modeled jewelry for shopping demos, and even had my own vegetarian cooking show on Fridays that aired on the cruise TV network. I've learned thousands of produce codes working as a grocery clerk on Robson Street in Vancouver. I've worked in divey bars, corporate gastropubs, and fine dining establishments on both coasts. I've waitressed trivia nights, open mic's, speed dating events, and weddings. I have gogo danced, background acted, and done hype work for bar/bat mitzvahs. I've become a regular melty cheese bun flipper at night markets in Arcadia and OC, and last year I produced my first music video. :)

I actually like interviews. I like the 'pure potential' phase of a job, and as someone who deals with the pressure of auditions and callbacks, an interview for a restaurant or dance studio is like a breath of fresh air. Maybe that's why I love a chance at an organic first impression--I'm not standing in front of a table of high profile producers, directors, and choreographers, sweating, in a classy bra with a crumpled paper number safety-pinned to my shorts.

It's amazing how quickly the value of my skillset changed--overnight almost. One minute I was a bicoastal dancer, actor, and singer with a full schedule of auditions, rehearsals, and classes. The next minute: a very artistic homemaker. By March 14, musicals and movie shoots were cancelled all over town. Broadway went dark (and so did any potential callbacks). The Santa Monica restaurant I worked at for 3 years issued final checks and shut its doors, and the restaurant I'd been hired to help open in Hollywood postponed construction and training indefinitely. No background acting. No babysitting. No castings or auditions. Even if my skills were still valuable at this point in history, it's not a great time to be leaving the house a bunch.

I think, in adapting to so many different phases in my life and getting used to on-the-fly job acquisition, I am at least helped by the fact that I don't identify my worth based on the job(s) I have. I've learned that your pay and credits often don't reflect your worth--they're just stepping stones to something that will.

I am lucky right now to qualify for unemployment, and additional funds under the emergency stimulus package. I have a state tax refund on the way and a check coming for an industrial acting gig. In the meantime, I'm happy to hone and share my skills without paying or being paid. I'm looking for ways to help the few industries and heroes taking the brunt of the load under this pandemic. I'm marveling at how quickly my hundreds of job skills became non transferable to anything society needs right now, but I'm not panicking. Because, in holding down so many jobs and charming so many interviewers, I learned to value myself for more than just a resume and financial track record. We're all learning that value right now, whether we're on the frontlines of essential operations or newly confined to our homes. It's not about money as much as it's about taking care of ourselves and each other...

Remembering what's important in these times is the most 'transferable' skill I can think of.

Other skills I'm grateful to have right now even though I'm not getting paid to use them:

Housecleaning & maintenance

Being able to watch the news or the latest Last Week Tonight and still carry on with a sense of hope and belief in the world (no idea where I picked this up, but I'm fairly consistent at it)

Healthy cooking devotion

Genuine care in conversations with friends




Happily avoiding makeup (and often pants)

Singing confidence

Ability to resist ordering pizza and getting wasted every day (proud of that one)

Bae appreciation & communication (handy for lockdown life)

Self care


Long meandering sunshine walks, while maintaining both friendliness and a safe distance


Deep f**king breaths - we can get through this, guys.

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