2010 DOROTHY NEAGLE
CO-FOUNDER, GOOD FOOD JOBS
meet Dor(othy), co-founder of Good Food Jobs.
Every so often, there comes a day that changes your life. Ours was Dryden Dairy Day (circa 2004). We’d love to claim that it was the allure of a rural town’s historic dairy celebration that drew us there, but it was really the advertisement for 25 cent ice cream cones that got us on the road.
Dorothy and I met as Cornell University tour guides, but our paths weren’t destined to cross until we carpooled to Dryden Dairy Day and bonded over our love of ice cream, agriculture, and that unique, intangible quality of a friendship meant to be.
We grew up on alternate ends of the universe, or so it seemed – me on the sunny shore of New Jersey, Dor on a small farm in rural Kentucky. While I was cruising the local Food Town supermarket, she was planting potatoes. My parents were beach bums; hers back-to-the land, homesteading hippies.
In spite of different origins, we ended up in the same place, at the same time; divine intervention. Delicious ice cream.
Our paths diverged yet again after graduation – I studied and worked with food in Italy while Dor took her Interior Design degree to a prominent architecture firm in New York City. But it’s no coincidence that after a couple of years, we finally settled in the same place – as luck would have it, just a short walk from eachother’s apartments in Brooklyn. Our penchant for food, friendship, and the environment (built or natural) has continued to bind our relationship, and motivate us to work together in doing what we love.
Our passion and energy have finally culminated in this new endeavor: Good Food Jobs. Although our goals are primarily altruistic, we’re not shy about the fact that starting a business together means seeing one another VERY frequently. And interviewing Dorothy was just another way for us to sit down and spend some time together – here’s what she had to say about her new Good Food Job.
IN OTHER WORDS…
What attracted you to a good food job?
I was never the type of person who dreamt of making lots of money. I was shocked as a college student to learn that some of my friends chose their majors in exchange for their parents’ approval or tuition payments – that the creative, artistic ideas they were passionate about would only land them in debt or cast out. In other words, I’m kind of a dreamy, gullible type who really wants to change the world. I was attracted to Interior Design because I felt strongly that the world we create around us has an affect on how we feel and how we live our lives. After working in that field for a few years, I found myself craving more of a direct connection to the impact I was making on people. My individual feelings about conservation and environmentalism were growing stronger by the day. I realized that the world I grew up in – small farming, land stewardship, real food, open minds – was the one I felt most connected to. And I was lucky enough to know someone like Taylor who understood what I was after and most of all knew the potential there was to use my motivation in some unique and different ways.
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
I’ve learned something from every job I’ve had – whether the overall experience was good or bad. These are important lessons for people who work. There are a lot of factors that contribute to that work experience, and many of them are not at all what you expect to become attuned to. For instance, I never really thought about office politics until I worked in an office. And I never knew that I liked helping people until I worked as a tour guide – a job I applied for only because I was a desperate summer student! (I was a VERY shy child.) It ended up being the best job I’ve ever had – I worked outside, I got exercise, I met new people every day, and I had the satisfaction of being able to offer direct and meaningful support to students and their families. I also liked making people laugh – that’s good life experience. As for my love of food and farming, that’s thanks to my parents, who truly live by the things they believe in. They have inspired me to take my passion seriously.
What advice do you have for others in search of a good food job?
Be persistent. If you have an embarrassing story to tell about why you love food so much, or why you think it has the ability to change lives, don’t be afraid to share it. (The best answers to interview questions are not written in an HR manual.) Apply for jobs that don’t exist yet. Beg for someone you admire to let you follow them around (seriously – everyone needs company). Take a leap of faith. Anticipate being disappointed, and learn to accept every rejection as an opportunity for what might come next.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
This is such a great question because we live in a world right now where money has been devalued a bit, and I think there’s potential to see how much the world is offering us that you couldn’t find in a bank or a store. What would I work for, besides money? Fresh strawberries. Buckets of them.