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In this interview, a front desk night auditor explains how her love for the beach drew her to this profession. Working on the Florida beaches, she has also discovered that she really enjoys math when it applies to real-world problems at the front desk. She advises that it is important to get a college degree in this field, as it is an excellent tool to help you work your way up in a company.

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: I am a night auditor at a resort hotel on Panama City Beach, Florida. I have been working as a night auditor for over 20 years, although I have only been with this resort for seven years. If I had to describe myself using only three adjective, I would say I am a night owl, sociable and outgoing.

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 Caucasian female, which both helps and hurts. I have experienced more discrimination as I have gotten older. When I was in my early 20s, I had no trouble getting raises or getting hired at a hotel. I could work at any hotel on the beach. Now that I am in my 40s, I know if I lost my job, I would have trouble finding another.

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: The night auditor is a combination of hotel front desk clerk and accountant. Ten years ago, the night audit was done by hand using an adding machine. Now, it is all done by a computer program. Anyone who can read and follow instructions can do it. When I started, you had to have excellent math skills. It involves charging each room that is occupied for the stay, as well as keeping up with receipts from the restaurant and the bar. There is a daily total and a yearly total. The computer brings the total forward. In the past, everything was done by hand on a large spreadsheet. The hotel files are also backed up nightly. The night audit takes about an hour to run. I also get the continental breakfast set out, and check guests in and out. A common misconception is that anyone can work a front desk. You have to like people to run a front desk. People arrive, and are tired because they have been driving all day or night. They want a pleasant person to check them in, and they want their check-in to go smoothly.

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: I would rate my job satisfaction as a seven. I enjoy my job and the people. I also enjoy most of the customers. I love getting to meet new people. I would really like a management position. I think I would do well. If I was the front office manager, I would rate the job a ten.

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: I really love to meet new people and hear their stories. Some customers come back over and over to this hotel, every year. One family switched hotels when I switched hotels. We email and keep in touch. I enjoy what I do. I never wake up and dread going to work, except during Spring Break.

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

A: The funny thing about my accomplishment is the fact I always hated math in school. I swore I would never get a job that involved using math. Once I started training as a night auditor, I found out I really did like math outside a school setting. It is like solving a giant puzzle.

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 loved the beach and I wanted to live here. I had gotten tired of school and was ready to "be a grown-up." I saw all the hotels were hiring. It seemed like the perfect job, to work on the beach. I went back to school, finished the quarter, packed, moved down and applied for a job and got it. I did not realize how deserted the beach gets in the winter. Tourism slows down and all our hours get cut. If I could go back, I would finish school and pursue a degree in hotel management. Working your way up is hard. You really need that degree.

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

A: During Spring Break I see all types of weird things. I have seen streakers. I have seen people so intoxicated they used the lobby fountain for a restroom. I once saw a boy seriously injure himself as he tried to dive into the pool from his balcony.

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

A: My job is extremely stressful at around 6am each morning. That is when the phone starts ringing with people asking questions about check-out time, there are people standing in line waiting to check out, and the breakfast and coffee pot needs replenishing. Once 7am rolls around and my relief is here, I breathe a sigh of relief. I maintain a healthy work-life balance by not taking my job home with me. I think that is something that takes years to learn.

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

A: Anyone starting out as a night auditor in this area is going to just make a dollar or so over minimum wage. You will receive extra because it is a third-shift job. I make around $30,000 a year, because I have been with the same company for so long. The cost of living is high in Florida. If it were not for my husband's salary, we would struggle.

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

A: During the winter, things slow down and I take two weeks off. We usually go to the mountains. I love the mountains, but I do love living at the beach. Two weeks are long enough for me. I get homesick for the sound of the waves hitting the shore.

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

A: You need a high school diploma or GED to work in most of the resort hotels. You need to be able to get along well with people, have a strict attention to detail and you need to know how to work a computer.

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

A: If I had a friend wanting to work in a resort hotel, I would tell the friend to consider his or her options. Unless you get a management position, these jobs do not pay a high wage. I consider it a fair trade-off for living right on the beach. Larger hotel in larger cities pay more. Some require college degrees.

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

A: If I could write my own ticket, I would love to own one of these hotels. I am afraid in five years there will not be any of the resort hotels left. Most of the smaller hotels are gone. Everyone is selling out and condos are being built.