Friends features an exclusive group of 20-somethings in the storyline of a television sitcom that premiered in 1994. It also happens to be one of my very favorite TV shows. Friends was and is an entertaining depiction of young people in various stages of life, struggling to face the many challenges that come with being an adult. Assuming each season is a year of their lives, season one introduces the characters as six 23-to-24-year-olds. While I know their lives are purely fiction, I am shocked to find myself nearing the same age that Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross were at the start of the series. And I’m shocked to find that I and the characters have some things in common—and several other things in contrast.
“The Last One” is the title of the finale episode of Friends, airing in 2004. I have spent a good amount of time writing blog posts, articles, press releases and social media announcements in this internship and I enjoy doing it more than almost any other task. Naturally I was able to manufacture some parallels between the end of my 4+ months at The Pavilion and the end of Friends’ 10 years on-air. Since this “Goodbye Blog” is also my last, this is my finale.
Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot
Day one of my new job as Marketing Assistant came with a lot of uncertainty and a lot of excitement. On my second day of work, I staffed my first performing arts event. It was similar to the pilot episode of any emerging show in that I had to establish my own story while becoming familiar with the world that was already turning around me. After that frenzied first day/week/episode, I continuously gained knowledge and confidence. And yes, friends.
Season 2, Episode 5: The One With Five Steaks And An Eggplant
One of my favorite things about working within earshot of Sarah Stephan—social media marketing coordinator—is the infectious enthusiasm with which she addresses pretty much everything. One subject that sparked an animated response from Sarah was talk of a Thanksgiving Potluck. Food is a staple in this office, whether it’s the cauldrons of candy we’ve assembled for Hocus Pocus Pops or the birthday parties featuring multiple kinds of cake, we’re certainly passionate about eating and laughing together.
Season 3, Episode 2: The One Where No One’s Ready
In the industry of fine arts events, it is inevitable that plans fall through. Or fall apart. A performer backs out, the weather is as uncooperative as ever, policies change, a performance date is misprinted in an advertisement, etc. It’s easy to turn any of these incidents into a catastrophe, but that’s not what we do here. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from Shannon Wilson, director of marketing & education, is that patience, grace and professionalism go a long way in handling each hiccup. Because she utilizes these traits so effortlessly, every potential issue is realistically minimized and the situation handled/rectified. Shannon is absolutely brilliant at her job and I am lucky to have learned so much from her.
Season 4, Episode 21: The One With The Invitation
This episode features flashbacks of Ross and Rachel’s relationship, so here’s a (much less dramatic) flashback of my own
Whitney Hough—marketing and PR manager—loves Children’s Festival. After experiencing it for the first time last month, it’s not hard to see why. Children’s Festival is easily the most fun I have ever had at work.
I had an absolute blast at Children’s Festival. Working in the Meet & Greet tent, I witnessed boys and girls become star struck by Barbie and Bob the Builder and adults yell as loud as their kids for a glimpse of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On Sunday morning, Whitney, Sarah and I ventured into the petting zoo, where I held a baby goat and we talked to the animals like we do each other. Friday evening, we rode several laps around The Pavilion on the golf cart, making sure everything was in place for the following morning while also adding our own sound effects to the cart. At two different points during the Festival, Sarah shielded me from a cockroach and I shielded her from a snake (brought by TWRC). In the days of preparation before and during the Festival, Whitney served as the best tour guide, event manager and cheerleader we could’ve asked for.
I learned so much and laughed so often during the whirlwind of Children’s Festival. Ultimately, my favorite part of the exhausting, nonstop four days was working alongside my friends. The chapped lips, sore feet and scratchy throat were totally worth it.
Season 5, Episode 18: The One Where Rachel Smokes
Rachel doesn’t smoke. Her boss and co-workers do smoke. So of course, Rachel takes up smoking to fit into their exclusive group and build a relationship with her boss. By the end of the episode, she is convinced that it isn’t worth it to pretend to be someone she isn’t just to impress her co-workers, when her work is consistent and promising.
The marketing department hired me based on the person they grew to know in my résumé and interview. Being anything other than myself would have deprived the department of the employee they chose.
Season 6, Episodes 15 & 16: The One That Could Have Been, Parts 1 & 2
By the time I was hired as marketing assistant at The Pavilion in late July 2015, I had applied/interviewed for more than 100 jobs since January. Most in the Houston area, some across the state and a handful outside of Texas. After graduating from A&M in May, I had more than a few meltdowns when considering my future.
There are two parts to consider when thinking about the “what ifs” in life. First: what could have been. I could have any one of the many jobs I was being considered for at that point, but I didn’t. I was offered this job and accepted. I could be living in another city, with an apartment and a roommate and a completely different life, but I am not. I could have loved my job or hated my job. But none of them would’ve been this one.
The second part of thinking about what could have been is choosing to be happy now, no matter what might have happened. I was ecstatic to hang up with Shannon and tell my parents about the job I had just been offered. I was even more thrilled to have been offered a job that I actually wanted and then to accept it and love it. And, if I hadn’t had this part-time job, I wouldn’t have had the time to devote to finding a full-time job that was perfect for me.
Season 7, Episode 9: The One With All The Candy
Moral of this episode: You can’t please everyone.
Season 8, Episode 17: The One With The Tea Leaves
Phoebe reads tea leaves to predict the future. In case you do not possess the same clairvoyance, I’ve compiled a list of advice/musings I’ve accumulated while in this position to give insight into my experiences.
- Nothing is below—or above—your paygrade.
- Writing in AP style versus MLA takes some getting used to. I miss my Oxford comma.
- You can learn a lot about The Pavilion by just reading through old CenterStage issues, blog posts, press releases, intern’s folders, etc. It’s a good way to productively fill time in a slow period.
- The phone was a welcome addition to my desk as an alternative to giving my cell phone number to strangers.
- The jobs that Whitney describes as “tedious” are not the most tedious jobs I have done.
- A positive attitude is the best quality you can bring to this and any position. It’s necessary for you to succeed and be happy.
- It’s always easier to get a response in person or on the phone than through email.
- Discussing/obsessing over Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco and all things nerdy with Whitney is definitely something I’ll miss.
- You are an adult and a valuable employee.
- I handed out more business cards to my friends and family than I did to any actual business contacts.
- It’s really cold upstairs (and in any office anywhere). Bring a jacket/snuggie/comforter as desired.
- I do not like to be called Amanda. Whitney does not like to be called Wendy. And Sarah does not like to be called Stephen.
Every season of Friends is full of laughs from the cast, both scripted and candid. The same is true of every day with The Pavilion staff. My favorite part of working with this incredible team of people is the laughter that comes naturally with every task. On the few occasions that the entire staff gets together, laughter rings throughout the building. I hope my next adventure at Houston Grand Opera includes such fun-loving people as there are here at The Pavilion.
Season 10, Episodes 17 & 18: The Last One, Parts 1 & 2
The mixed emotions anyone may feel about their job and/or adult life from day to day can be summed up eloquently in the last line of dialogue from the Friends Pilot:
“Welcome to the real world! It sucks. You’re gonna love it.”
I love this job. Maybe not every single aspect, but absolutely nothing could tarnish the fantastic memories I have made here at The Pavilion.