Moving up: My first job - Gary Selby, joint managing director, Information Arts

It was the summer of 1984, I was 19 years old and had flunked my first year exams at Portsmouth Polytechnic. I was studying mechanical engineering, obviously an ideal preparation for a career in business-to-business database marketing.

I had left home a few months previously, determined to stand on my own two feet and excited at the challenge of taking on the real world. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation was less than ideal - I was getting grief from the folks, being humiliated by friends who had opted out and got jobs and, to top things off, I was totally broke.

Salvation eventually came along in the form of a temping job. I didn't even have a CV at this point, and I managed to skip the interview process as the job was lined up by a chap next door who I'd done some babysitting for. You never know when contacts will come in handy.

So I took my first tenuous steps into the world of employment at a major print company. My principal duty consisted of stuffing calendars into polythene envelopes - tedium par excellence.

However, the fact that all of my co-workers were female (and I mean all) was of some consolation. As the only male in the building, I attracted a remarkable amount of undeserved attention. It was quite an experience and I was convinced that I had landed my dream job.

Another pleasant surprise was that the aforementioned calendars were of the, how shall I put it, 'arty' variety - Mayfair in fact. You must be thinking: What more could a teenage boy ask for?

Well, admittedly it was great for the first couple of hundred calendars, but when you are looking at half a dozen every minute, for nine hours a day over a period of eight weeks, the thrill factor and novelty rapidly wears off. It would take quite a man to still be affected after exposure to 129,600 calendars!

Despite the perks this didn't turn out to be my dream job after all, although 20 odd years down the line I'm still heavily involved with the direct marketing industry, thankfully at a slightly higher level.

Despite the repetitive and boring nature of my first job, it actually paid quite well and certainly helped to finance the various books, pens, beer and cardigans necessary for the remainder of my student years. Needless to say the experience also put me off 'arty' publications for life, much to my wife's relief.


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