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In this interview with a woman who has worked as a hotel housekeeper, she explains that the job came along at a time when she desperately needed a job, but didn't have any work experience. The job allowed her to support herself while going to school, and she learned many valuable lessons about hard work, pacing yourself, and how important a kind, encouraging word can be.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: Several years ago I worked as a housekeeper in a hotel with just over 200 rooms. Although I was only employed there for a year, I learned a lot about hard work and what it takes to stay motivated to work at a consistent pace throughout the day. If I were to describe myself in three adjectives, they would be dependable, honest, and hard-working.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am a white female, and I was in my early twenties when I was employed as a housekeeper. I feel that my age was the biggest issue I had during my period of employment. Because I was one of the younger housekeepers, people were hesitant to take me seriously. Although I had a strong work ethic, I felt as if my work was constantly under scrutiny. My boss was great and always seemed happy with the job I did. Most of the skepticism came from other housekeepers who felt that I was too young to be good at my job. During the time of my employment, I occasionally heard crude comments from some of the younger, male hotel guests. When this happened, I pretended I didn't hear them and continued with my work.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: As a housekeeper, I was generally responsible for cleaning around 15-20 rooms per day. Although when working short staffed, I would have as many as 30. The cleaning duties included changing bedding, cleaning bathrooms, taking out trash, replacing shampoo, soap, etc., and sweeping, and dusting. The goal when working as a housekeeper is to work quickly and efficiently.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: Although some people love housekeeping jobs, I quickly found that it wasn't for me. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate my job satisfaction at a four. While it wasn't always terrible, I learned how inconsiderate people can be when they don't have to clean up after themselves. Most of the time I didn't mind cleaning up after people, that was my job after all. However, leaving dirty diapers and trash all over the room is unacceptable behavior. Most guests did pick up after themselves, but those few who had no respect for the housekeepers was enough to turn me away from making a career in the hotel industry.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: A little appreciation goes a long way. There were times when guests would leave me thank you notes telling me I did a great job cleaning their room for the duration of their stay. Those little notes made the day a lot better and made me feel as if someone appreciated all the hard work I did every day.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: At the time I was working as a housekeeper full-time, I was also a full-time student. I think part of my job dissatisfaction was a result of the amount of stress in my life at the time. It was difficult for me to adjust to my hectic school and work schedule. Had I not been under an enormous amount of stress, maybe I wouldn't have been as annoyed by inconsiderate guests.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I began working as a housekeeper because I didn't have a lot of work experience at the time. I basically applied for every available job in my area and hoped someone would hire me. Thankfully, someone decided to take a chance on me when I desperately needed it. Although there was a lot that I didn't like about my job as a housekeeper, I wouldn't do anything differently. The job helped me support myself while still allowing me to attend classes. I also learned some valuable life skills that continue to help me today.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: I learned that no matter how hard I try, not everyone is going to like me. Right from the beginning of my employment, there were two other housekeepers who immediately decided that they didn't like me. They were older ladies who had been there for several years, and they often made comments about how lazy young people are today. Although I never did anything to deserve their bitterness, I often felt that those comments were directed to me.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: I learned that anything I want in life I have to work hard for. That has been a valuable lesson I will always remember.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: I never experienced anything to out of the ordinary, but it did sometimes surprise me what people would bring with them when traveling. Some of the items they left right out in the open seemed a little inappropriate.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: It always made me feel good to know that I always did my best. I was happiest when the guests would acknowledge that I had done a good job.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: The only challenge I faced as a housekeeper was trying to clean the rooms of some inconsiderate guests without getting angry. I tried to always remember that it was my job, and it was not for me to judge the lifestyle of others. While at times it was difficult, I somehow managed to make it through.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: Normally, I didn't feel too stressed out by my job. As long as I worked at a steady pace, I could finish my work in a reasonable amount of time. It did occasionally become stressful when another housekeeper would call in sick and the rest of us had to pick up extra rooms, but it wasn't anything I felt too overwhelmed by.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: A housekeeper makes around $20,000-$23,000 annually in my area. While this is not much, at the time it was enough for me to survive on while going to school. I lived with two roommates at the time to keep cost of living down, and I always had enough money to make ends meet.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: Since I was only employed by the company for a year, I didn't work there long enough to receive any vacation time.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: A high school diploma is required, but it is also helpful to have some experience in hospitality or housekeeping.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: I would advise them to try it out. Some people really enjoy the job and like working independently.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: Although I worked in housekeeping several years ago, my five year goal was to finish school, have a career I loved, and be independent.