So you may all not know, but I've had about 247 jobs in my life. This is because:
1. I started working when I was 12 (a friend and I were hired by a craft fair woman to tie tiny ribbons and hot glue them on to napkin rings---in retrospect, this is a little like the young Chinese girls in the silk factory, burns and all, but we'll pretend I wasn't paid pennies for each piece bc I didn't know any better).
2. I never fell in love with anything long enough to stick with it for long (which is why my life is so exciting right now bc I'm so in love with writing/editing/publicity).
3. I love working.
These jobs have included: kickboxing/aerobics instructor, Blockbuster employee, bookkeeper, dental front desk assistant, feminine hygiene product copywriter, secretary, Weight Watchers employee, forest preserve construction worker, barista, waitress, camp counselor, office manager, producer, talent negotiator, house painter, stage manager, box office manager...well, you get the idea.
Add to this my interest/volunteer/hobbies: Sunday school teacher, homeless shelter overnight volunteer, rape crisis counselor, gifted education supporter, knitter...blah, blah, blah.
The point of all of the above is not to show you how capricious I am (cough, cough) or how I am a Jane of All Trades, Mistress of none, but rather to let you know how critical researching your manuscript material is. Because I certainly can't be the only intern out there with information about the inner workings of myriad businesses. And yet this lack of research happens ALL THE TIME. I've read enough manuscripts to know when writers have no idea what they are talking about and have gotten information from sitcoms instead of real facts.
My best friend Rebecca is a pediatrician. She won't watch doctor shows unless they are completely unrealistic (i.e. Off The Map) because all the inaccuracies of "hospital" shows annoy her too much. I worked in advertising for almost ten years. The movie "What Women Want" bugged me to no end because first, no one has a chance to land the Nike account (ahem). Also, you don't come up with commercials that way. The whole process was absolutely wrong and I couldn't stand it. It is one thing for us to accept Bewitched as the model for how advertising works, but in an age of research and information access, I thought it was downright irresponsible for "What Women Want" to perpetuate a false model.
So too is the case with writing. If you are writing contemporary, make your stuff plausible. Make your problem be a real problem (not able to be solved if the MC just did one very obvious thing). Do your research. Because I guarantee, your readers will call you out on things. And you'd rather not be rejected for something easily solved by a trip to .
How do you do your research???