"How I Went from" is an ongoing blog series that highlights our employees' different journeys to InterWorks. The results are pretty diverse, but each story is special in its own right.
The famous/dreaded question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, it was always dreaded to me, at least. I had no idea what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” Am I grown up now?! Nobody wants to be a grown up! Adulting is hard – plain and simple – and quite frankly, it just isn’t my style. But let’s just pretend like I HAVE grown up. This is my story.
Where It All Began
I am originally from good ‘ole Dallas, Texas – born and raised! I have the biggest family you could ever imagine. My entire family would get together every single Sunday for dinner. Mind you, I am only one of about 20 first cousins, but that never let anything stop us from getting together for the best/biggest meal you could imagine once a week. Being from a big Italian family, things like this were a must! And they still are. 🙂
Above: A typical family get-together.
While growing up, I was not (and still am not) your typical “girly girl,” which is how I am usually portrayed. I grew up around cars, cars and more cars. On my seventh Christmas, Santa built my brother and me our VERY OWN junior dragster! Needless to say, after I did a few test runs, my brother did most of the racing. Michael, my brother, still races to this day and does a heck of a good job at it! My dad has worked for the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) for 27 years, with Michael and I being his #1 sidekicks at almost every drag race we could attend from the moment we could walk.
Above: My brother and I at a race with a family friend.
After my parents divorced when I was eight, I grew up with my dad and brother – living in a house we built from the ground up (I even dug the holes for the sprinkler system) next door to my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I’ve got to say, it was a heck of a childhood growing up living next door to so many cousins and family members! Whether we were driving four-wheelers through the garden, driving the golf cart into yet another tree, covering my little cousin’s head in band aids (we really didn’t know it was ACTUALLY going to rip all his hair out) or catching crawdads in the pond and throwing them at each other, we were always getting into some sort of mischief.
When I was 11, I decided it was time to be with Mom! A girl needs her momma! I moved to Norman, Oklahoma, and haven’t left since.
Above: What little girl doesn’t love a pony ride?
Smile! Happy Looks Good on You.
I have always had a weird fascination with teeth. Of all things, why teeth? I still ask myself that question. Everyone loves a good smile, though. So, after high school, I decided I would apply to dental assisting school and test the waters out to see how much I actually would enjoy it. I received my acceptance letter and before I knew it, I could tell you anything you needed or wanted to know about a darn tooth!
I did one of my internships at an orthodontist office (surprisingly the same orthodontist who did my braces when I was 12) and was in love with the work. I had found my passion and something I loved to do – BRACES! I was hired immediately after graduation and started work that next day. I was – and still am – always asked the question, “How on earth can you work in mouths all day long?” Honestly, I don’t have the slightest clue.
Above: Demonstrating some dental technology.
It really is pretty disgusting: taking the “colors” off of the kids braces and food flying everywhere, finding fingernails in their braces (yes, I said FINGERNAILS), doing molds of mouths to make retainers and getting thrown up on – this was not many people’s idea of a dream job. But to me, it was fun, awesome and pretty hilarious at times. My patients were seen on a five-to-six week basis, so I was able to watch them grow up and listen to their funny middle school gossip and drama. The looks and smiles on their faces once I handed them the mirror after getting their braces off … that right there made every bit of the job worth it every day.
After working for Dr. Jay for almost seven years, I could officially say I was a bit burnt out. As much as I was going to miss my patients, making little monsters gag on impression material all day and wondering what sort of “item” I was going to find in their braces next, I decided that it was time for a new journey.
Above: Dental assisting in action.
I had worked at the same place for seven years since I had graduated, so I was pretty clueless on where to begin my search and what I even wanted to do. I was always drawn to administrative types of jobs when I would be looking. I was on the Indeed app, looking for jobs on my iPad, and saw that a company called InterWorks was hiring for an Administrative Assistant position in OKC. So, I clicked on it, read the details … and WOAH! I couldn’t believe what I was reading. A CEREAL BAR?! NEVER-ENDING CAFFEINE?! WAS THIS SOME SORT OF JOKE?! I applied for the position right away. I figured hundreds of other people had applied for it as well, so I really wasn’t thinking that I, the girl who flicked food from kids’ braces, would ever be considered.
I received an e-mail from Liz asking me when I would be available for a phone interview. I remember specifically that I flew to New Orleans to visit one of my cousins the day I scheduled the phone interview. Liz was going to call me at 5:00 p.m., and I was going to be ready and prepared with a fully charged phone and have all my answers planned out!
My cousin’s dog ran out the door, and I had to chase him down. Liz called while I was capturing the dog. I MISSED THE CALL! I MISSED MY CHANCE. I couldn’t believe it. I called back immediately, and it was now 5:01 p.m., so it went to the InterWorks voicemail. I bawled like a baby and sent her an email immediately apologizing. I just knew it was over. The stupid dog had to have ruined my one and only chance to work at a place with a CEREAL BAR AND NEVER-ENDING CAFFEINE! To my surprise, Liz emailed me back the next day and she let me schedule another interview. I still had a shot at the never-ending cereal bar and never-ending caffeine.
Above: In addition to the never-ending caffeine and cereal, InterWorks has all sorts of fun things like pool tables.
She called me on a Friday, and boy oh boy was I nervous. She asked me questions, and I don’t even remember my response to them – except I remember blabbing about how I thought I would be a good fit because I am a people person, love to make people happy and that I liked to talk a lot. Her response being, “Yes, I can tell that you like to talk a lot!” Strike two. I knew it was going to be over and I wouldn’t have the never-ending cereal bar and all that lovely caffeine. She thinks I talk too much. WHY DO YOU TALK SO MUCH, STEPHANIE!?!? Liz then told me that she had “quite a few more phone interviews” to do and that if I was chosen for an in-person interview, they would call me. My brain went running amuck. “Quite a few more phone interviews?” UGH! I am, by NO MEANS, a patient person.
Within just a few days, I received an email from Cassidy asking me when I could come to the OKC office for an interview with her and Will Lyles. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I couldn’t believe it! I was one step closer, and Liz must’ve not told them that I talked too much! It was a miracle. Then it hit me: I am going to an interview. I have NEVER been to an interview in my entire life. Not one. My scrubs that I wore to work every day were simply not going to cut it for an interview. The day of my interview, I changed out of my scrubs in my car and put on my new, sharp outfit, tucked in my shirt and put on my heels in the parking lot that I am currently parking in every day now. 🙂
The First Interview
I hopped on the elevator, my twig legs shaking from nervousness in my new slacks, and made it up to the seventh floor. A sweet looking girl was at the desk (which is now MINE). This was Cassidy. She took me back to the conference room where Will was. Talk about scary! This crazy-tall man sitting at the end of a table so long that I didn’t think it was going to end, Cassidy sitting next to him and then me. Right in front of them both. At the long table. I was so nervous that I think I blacked out.
I don’t remember much, kind of like the phone interview with Liz. Must be short term memory loss. But what I do remember was not being there very long and Will saying, “So are we done here?” Strike three. I just knew it!!! “So are we done here?” WHAT A SLAP IN THE FACE! I had even tried to not talk too much! I was told that I was the first one to interview on a day full of interviews for the position. They were going to call me if I was one of the finalists who would meet with the CEO and his wife.
I walked out, twig legs still shaking, towards the elevator, passed the awesome-looking kitchen and had no clue that I would be soon be walking into that kitchen every day to stock it full of that never-ending supply of caffeine. Cassidy called me just a few days later and told me I had made it! I didn’t strike out! I was a FINALIST! I scored an interview with the CEO and his wife! HOT DOG! Me, being the crazy person I am, actually called Cassidy back after we scheduled my interview just so she could tell me how to pronounce Behfar’s name. Seriously, who wants to go to an interview and butcher the CEO’s name?! NOT ME.
The Second Interview
I couldn’t believe the day had come. I drove up to Stillwater and arrived an hour early. I needed to make sure I was on time, looking slick and prepared. I sat in the parking lot until 10 minutes before my interview and started my walk to the door. There goes my twig legs shaking yet again from nerves. I made it in alive. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the CEO’s office with his wife, Staci. I even pronounced his name correctly. Score! Before I knew it I was talking about my dogs, the house I just bought and how much of a pain it was to be a homeowner, and about my journey so far. I remember Behfar asking me, “What do you think your role would consist of, being an administrative assistant?” I said the first thing that rolled off my tongue, “Being Momma Bear, I suppose!?” And that was that. I thought it went well. I left with my head held high, and the twig legs were no longer shaking. They told me that they would let me know either way if I was the “chosen one.” It was about a week later when I received an email from Staci informing me that I got the job. I did it. I was jumping for joy, dancing around my house and floating on cloud nine!
Life at InterWorks
My start date was December 15. I was finished working in dirty mouths and flicking food from braces on December 12 and ready to start my new career. It is definitely different, to say the least. But it’s different in a good way, especially since I have a cereal bar and a never-ending supply of caffeine every day. After working with children all day every day for almost seven years, I wasn’t so sure how work would be around adults all day. How quickly did I forget my answer during my interview with Staci and Behfar when I was asked to describe the role I would be doing. Momma Bear. That was me. I had hit the nail on the head with my answer. 🙂
Above: The ribbon cutting at out new OKC office.
The never-ending caffeine was a GREAT decision on InterWorks part when you are an administrative assistant. Keeping the fridge fully stocked with soda, the cereal/snack bar stocked, running to FedEx and UPS, the twice-a-week (minimum) run to Walmart, the monstrous Sam’s orders, the receipts, more receipts and most of all … the emails. Before starting at IW, I had a personal email address because you basically HAVE to have one nowadays. It was used to order things online mostly, but I never received any thing good on it – just junk. My new InterWorks email address was blowing up. I had more emails in one day than I had received in a LIFETIME. I was shocked and had no idea how this was going to work.
Above: A few of us posing for a photo upon learning we made the OKC Metro 50 for another year!
After being here for nine months now, I laugh because I actually sent Staci an email a month or so ago telling her I found myself “twirling my thumbs” because I didn’t have much to do now that I was on speed with things. It didn’t take long at all for her to make sure I was busy again. Life here at InterWorks has been pretty darn good. I have my very own laptop thanks to IW! Mind you, this is the first computer I have owned in 10 years. Yes, an administrative assistant for an IT company did not even own a computer when she got hired. How on earth did this work out? I have no idea, but I sure am thankful! My new journey has been a success and blessing in so many ways. I am happy, full of caffeine and so glad I made the switch from dental assistant to InterWorks administrative assistant.
Check Out More Stories
My story is part of an ongoing blog series that includes stories from many other folks at InterWorks. Head to the “How I Went from” series page for the full list and discover their unique stories!