Where notable Chapel Hill adults got their start

For all the soon-to-be graduates without an answer to the ever-pleasant “What are you doing after graduation?” question yet, this one’s for you. I decided to turn the tables and ask adults in the Chapel Hill community what their first job was, in hopes of hearing some inspirational started-from-the-bottom stories. Spoiler: most of their jobs were pretty legit.


“My first job (beyond babysitting which I started a lot doing at 11 years old) was as a waitress at a pancake/buffet restaurant. I worked as waitress during high school and all through college. My first job after graduating with my undergrad biology degree was as a graduate research assistant in my Ph.D. program, then postdoc, then professor."

-Chancellor Carol Folt


“I went to graduate school immediately after college. My first job after graduate school was as a Chapel Hill District Circulation Manager for the Durham Morning Herald/Durham Sun newspapers.”

-Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle


“My first job after college was as a high school teacher.”

-Senior Associate Dean & Director, Office of the Dean of Students Desirée Rieckenberg


“My first job out of college was with a small computer book publisher in Carrboro, Ventana Press. At the time, in early 1991, it was on Main Street in Carrboro where Acme restaurant is now. I was hired to be a customer service rep, and by the time I left the company 11 years later I was the International Sales Manager. It was a lot of fun and I’ve been in the book world ever since.”

-Jamie Fiocco, Owner of Flyleaf Books


"Coach Fedora’s first job was as a brick layer when he was 13 years old. His first job out of college was being the Freshman Football Coach at Garland High School in Texas."

-Coach Larry Fedora, courtesy of Kevin Best, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications


"When I was first out of school, I worked for a real estate company as an assistant manager to an apartment complex – then I moved to a computer software service company in North Carolina!”

-Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger


“Bubba Cunningham’s first job out of college was as an auditor in the public accounting firm Deloitte Haskins and Sells in Atlanta.”

-Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham, courtesy of Molly Norton, executive assistant to Cunningham


“My first out of college job was as a professor. I worked through college pouring iron and being an emergency room orderly.”

-George Noblit, Distinguished Professor of Sociology of Education


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