In Notes on October 24, 2014 at 12:05 am

Work Stew is a collection of original essays and in-depth interviews. To learn more, please visit the FAQ.

New essays and interviews will be added regularly, so please check in often. Or you can sign up to receive email notifications of new contentlook for the button at the bottom right of the site.

Also, Work Stew now has its very own Facebook page; if you ‘like’ it, you’ll be able to see periodic updates in your news feed. You can also receive notices of new content via Twitter.


A brief history:

The site was launched in January 2011, when I published “Random Acts of Business,” an essay about extraordinarily long hot dogs, True Believers, and my lifelong quest for flow. Since then more than 70 other essays have been added to the mix.

You can view a complete list of contributors here. To date, the Top Ten Readers’ Favorites* are (in alphabetical order):

Molly Bishop Shadel A law professor writes about juggling her wide-ranging legal career with a personal life

Gerald Casale A founding member of the ground-breaking and enduring band Devo reflects on what constitutes “work.” 

Samantha Cole A prep school grad embraces her “inner laborer.” 

Ronald J. Granieri An historian pulls back the ivy to reveal what life in academia is really like.  

Tasha Huebner A self-employed Wharton grad takes a hammer to the old chestnut, “Do what you love, and the money will come.” 

Meg Heimovics Kumin A software developer reboots after three babies and two family crises and emerges as a photographer

Gopi Kallayil A Googler ponders the power of intention after an idea scribbled on a piece of paper almost immediately springs to life. 

Lindsay Moran Following the Abbottabad raid, an ex-spy reflects on her decision to leave the CIA

Rhino A soldier describes what it’s like to come home, including what goes through his mind when someone says to him, “Thank you for your service.” 

Terri Rowe A longtime factory worker reveals the secret identity that has sustained her since she was four years old. 

If you’re interested in submitting an essay of your own, please write to me at I’d love to hear your story.


Kate Gace Walton
Editor, Work Stew

*Note: ‘Readers’ Favorite’ is a pretty subjective designation based on page views, shares, comments, and the volume of love/hate mail each essay has so far inspired. So, read all the essays; as they say, your mileage may vary.

Why Have You Stayed? Part 1…

In Essays on October 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Over on Facebook, I recently posted this message: “I’ve talked to many job changers. Now I’m on the lookout for people who have stayed with one employer for a long, long time. Anyone?”

I heard from quite a few people, and over the coming weeks, I plan to share the brief Q&A exchange I had with each of them. First up: Priscilla Emerling who has worked at Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch resort for more than two decades. 

PRISCILLA1. When you first joined the company you’re with now, how long did you intend to stay? 

Initially, I only planned to stay for a winter. I had just moved to Burlington, Vermont from Washington DC and was having trouble finding a job. At that point in my life, I had great plans to save the world working with troubled teens, but found it difficult to get my foot in anywhere, especially without a Masters. A friend was headed out to Smugglers’ to apply for a job, and I decided to tag along. I applied on a whim. I thought it would be fun to be a ski bum for a season. Little did I know that, 23 years later, I’d still be here!

 2. Why have you stayed as long as you have?

Laziness? I think a lot of it has to do with the atmosphere, especially early on. There’s nothing like working at a resort: you get to work, play, and live in a place where people spend oodles of money to spend their hard-earned vacation/family time. In a word, it’s fun! Plus, I was learning so much. Because line-level resort jobs are seasonal, you needed to be willing to do whatever is needed to stay employed during the slower shoulder seasons. For me, this meant brush cutting ski trails, painting facilities, building bridges on the cross-country trails, acid-washing pools, waxing slides… For a girl who didn’t know the difference between a wrench and pliers, these were all huge accomplishments. The other important factor is the people. There’s a longevity epidemic at Smugglers’ and the people you work with are more than just co-workers—the company as a whole is much like a large, dysfunctional family. We fight, we tease, we nag—but give us a crisis to get behind, or (god forbid) someone say something negative about us, watch out because we’re a force to behold. There’s one thing we all have in common: we love the mountain. It’s not just a job or a resort, it’s a family.

3. Was there ever a point where you considered leaving? Making a change? If so why? What made you decide to stay instead?

Many times. Mainly because I didn’t want to get stuck in the same job for 20 years and not be able to find another one. You can see how well that turned out. One of the downsides of working at a resort is that you’re asked to do many things outside what would be considered a normal job description. Jack of all trades, master of none. It’s difficult to figure out where you fit in the real world—or if you’d fit at all.  On paper, I’m the art director/graphic designer at a year-round resort…but that just doesn’t translate as well as it would if it were the same position but at an advertising agency, or a magazine—even though I direct our ad agency and produce a magazine. There are a lot of little things that keep me here, beyond not being able to (half-heartedly) find another job: flexibility being the most important. As long as I get my job done, I can work from anywhere. I can come and go as I please. For me, this has become more and more important with my father passing away and my mother getting older. Frankly, I’ve come to realize that working here for as long as I have has turned me into a spoiled brat. I work hard, and for the most part under the radar—but at the same time I have no filter. I will give you my opinion regardless of your position and apparently missed that day in school when they taught business correctness and how to suck up.

4. Why do you think changing jobs is so common? What are other people seeking that you have perhaps already found?

I think most people are more ambitious than I am. Plus, for the most part, my quality of life and where I live was much more important to me than making the big bucks. Ive never been one of those people who always had to trade in and up—I’m quite content and comfortable with what I have. THAT or it’s because I don’t like change. My father spent his entire career with J. Walter Thompson, so I suppose there’s something to be said for doing what you know.

5. Is there something, anything, that could—at least hypothetically—lure you elsewhere? If so, what is it?


Flick Picks

In Notes on October 12, 2014 at 6:48 am

1794722_867076539976832_8336157486925416530_nThe other day, I asked Work Stew readers on Facebook to share their favorite work-related movies. Not just office-related—any type of work.

Below is a list of the flicks that have been suggested so far. I ranked them in order of their Rotten Tomatoes score (the percentage to the right), so that you can get a quick sense of how popular they are more generally.

What would you suggest? Please email me ( and I’ll add your picks to the list.

Lost in Translation (2003), 95% on RottenTomatoes

The Sessions (2012), 94%

Glengary Glen Ross (1994), 94%

Fargo (1996), 94%

Up in the Air (2009), 91%

Network (1976), 91%

High Fidelity
 (2000), 91%

Adaptation (2002), 91%

Norma Rae (1979), 90%

Michael Clayton (2007), 90%

Chef (2014), 88%

Jerry Maguire
 (1996), 85%

Dead Poets Society (1989), 85%

Cedar Rapids (2011), 85%

Working Girl (1988), 84%

Erin Brockovich (2000), 84%

9 to 5 (1980), 82%

Baby Boom (1987), 81%

Office Space (1999), 79%

Wall Street (1987), 78%

Mystic Pizza (1998), 78%

Devil Wears Prada (2006), 75%

The Last Days of Disco (1998), 71%

Horrible Bosses (2011)
, 69%

The Company Men (2011), 67%

Boiler Room (2000), 67%

Clay Pigeons (1998), 63%

Pretty Woman
 (1990), 62%

Secret of My Success (1987), 58%

Joe vs. the Volcano (1990), 58%

Empire Records (1995), 24%

Suggested by Work Stew readers but not rated on Rotten Tomatoes:

Death of a Salesman (1951)

Deskset (1957)

His Girl Friday (1940)

I’m All Right, Jack (1959)




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 106 other followers