April 29, 2008 / Spring 2008 / Staff Management

For the love of the pursuit

Written by Idea File Staff

Everyone could use some extra money. Some people, however, take on a part-time, summer or freelance job just because they are passionate about the work. These advisers found jobs that suited their interests and hobbies.

 

Tamara Negri-Smith

  • Adviser, Palm Beach Lakes Community High School
  • West Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Other job: Mystery shopper

Retail establishments depend on mystery shoppers – people who get paid or compensated to go into a business and evaluate its performance without the employees’ knowledge. Being a mystery shopper is not for everyone, and there are even some illegitimate businesses claiming to be companies that lead mystery shoppers to work assignments. However, a friend told Negri-Smith about BestMark, and she decided to become a mystery shopper “because I’m always shopping.”

She contacted BestMark through their website, but more than a year passed before they contacted her and she began working in spring 2007.

BestMark provides explicit instructions about where to go and what to do. First, the company emails information on a type of shop, but not the name of it, and asks about the availability of the mystery shopper. If available, then they send specific information.

“I do restaurants, and they’ll tell me, like, you’ll have to force an interaction with the manager, or eat at the bar,” she said.

She has also been asked to take a teen with her to Best Buy and have them purchase an M-rated game.

“A lot of times I go to stores where my students work,” she said. But she said she hasn’t had to report on students making inappropriate sales, such as M-rated games to minors.

“Most of the kids are conscientious at their jobs,” she said. “I don’t know if they know who it is (doing the reporting).”

Payment depends on the job. For example, to eat at a restaurant, the mystery shopper could be reimbursed for the meal and paid from $5-12. If an item is purchased, sometimes the shopper returns the item with the receipt, and other times they get to keep it.

“It’s really flexible. It’s just fun. It gives purpose to my shopping.”

Gregory Geibel

  • Adviser, North Allegheny Intermediate High School
  • Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Other job: Freelance photographer

Geibel said he began his freelance photography career as a child by watching his dad, who would take pictures at football games and band concerts just as a hobby. Geibel said his photo hobby turned into an obsession when he took a photography course in college. And he said he is thinking photography every waking minute.

“I saw a quote once that said, ‘‚Ķeven when writers are staring out the window, they’re still writing.’ I think photographers are the same. I spend all day taking snapshots of things I see, with no camera nearby,” he said.

“I went to Alaska one summer, and a park ranger told me, when he saw all my gear, ‘The best pictures aren’t taken with a camera, they’re taken six inches behind the camera.'”

Geibel’s wedding and portrait work can be seen at his website, greggeibel.com. He also contributes to magazines such as Maniac Magazine, a Pittsburgh-based fashion magazine, and CK DeLuxe and Ol’ Skool Rodz, classic and hot rod car magazines.

He also recently finished Shine, a book that uses photography, poetic personification, and some personal vignettes to showcase classic cars with what he calls another American classic: our aging generation.

Geibel, who has been a teacher for 14 years and a yearbook adviser for 10 years, said his only fear is “missing that perfect shot.” But what continues to draw him to photography?

“Every wedding is different, every person is different, nothing is ever duplicated,” he said, adding, “I haven’t taken the perfect picture yet.”

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.