Now a researcher at a recruiting company, Pittsburgh resident Mark Jeselnick has always had a strong work ethic, as evidenced by the many jobs he has had from a young age growing up in St. Marys.
"My first job was working in my grandfather’s greenhouse after graduating the eighth grade," Jeselnick said. "This was how I was able to afford paying for my high school education at Elk Catholic. I remember my grandfather instructing me one day, 'Mark, when you own the company, you get to make the decisions.' This is so true. Thankfully, I learned this lesson early in my life."
During high school, Jeselnick was a paperboy for The Daily Press and also cleaned the blackboards after school. After graduating from high school, Jeselnick started his first full-time job on June 6, 1979 with a powder metal plant in Daguscahonda. In addition to being his first full-time job, the position also provided him with an unexpected bonus.
"Shortly after starting this position, I remember one Saturday after breakfast waiting with my brothers and sisters for our mom to give us chores, which I was more than happy to do, when our mom said, 'Mark has a full-time job and therefore he is not responsible for any chores,'" Jeselnick said.
Unfortunately, Jeselnick was laid off from the factory, then later was re-hired and laid off again. Undaunted, he found several ways to pay the bills.
"Prior to 1984, I worked as a pizza delivery person, a gas station attendant and a delivery person for coupon books," Jeselnick said.
It was at that point that Jeselnick decided to change directions and began attending college full-time in 1984 at the University of Pittsburgh's main campus to pursue a degree in computer science.
"I thought computers were interesting and sort of knew they were not going to go away. I was also told from my brothers and sisters the first two years are just general courses, so if I wanted to change my mind, there would be enough time," Jeselnick said.
He was accepted into the evening program for the College of General Studies, and for the first two years of his education had two work-study positions, one in the student healthcare facility and the second with a researcher at the Veterans Hospital, a trek for the busy student.
"Anyone who knows Oakland and where this hospital is located knows there are two ways to get up this hill," Jeselnick said. "One is 'Cardiac Hill' via Fifth Avenue, the other is up Centre Avenue."
Jeselnick said he became increasingly frustrated with his major due to a lack of resources.
"Back then, Pitt only had a sprinkle of computer labs. Most students wanted to use the PC not for education, but for play," Jeselnick said. "The internet back then was a two-way communication network. The problem I was experiencing was not having a free PC when I wanted one to learn, so I decided to change my major to Legal Studies."
Jeselnick obtained a position as a messenger with a mid-size law firm while attending Pitt in his third year of undergraduate studies.
"I was very surprised to learn the office administrator actually phoned my reference in St. Marys and was the reason she offered me the position," Jeselnick said. "I really enjoyed this position for two reasons: One, I was able to get my feet wet in the field of study I had now chosen, and second, I was able to acquaint myself with the buildings of downtown Pittsburgh. And of course, it helped pay the bills."
Jeselnick graduated from the University of Pittsburgh's main campus in 1988 with a B.A. in Legal Studies and also completed a Paralegal Certificate in Estates, Wills and Trusts from the University of Pittsburgh in 1989. He attended Computer Tech and has a Network Management degree. He accepted a mail/clerical position with a new law firm in Pittsburgh while finishing the paralegal program, and after receiving excellent references from the firm, he moved on to his next position with the largest law firm in Pittsburgh.
"I remember my first day, I walked to the lower level of the building and was introduced to the department and then was told to report to an attorney upstairs, as she wanted an urgent hand delivery," Jeselnick recalled. "As I approached her office, I knew I was in the right place, as I saw her name plate on the office door. I waited patiently while this attorney was giving multiple instructions to her secretary. At one point she exclaimed, 'Where is the messenger?' Her secretary pointed at me and said, 'There he is.' The attorney looked at me and said, 'I thought you were a client.'
Jeselnick said no one in his department could figure out how he was able to deliver documents to various buildings in downtown Pittsburgh faster than anyone before him.
"The secret which I revealed then is, and still is now, the Port Authority buses have what is known as a 'free zone' triangle for downtown, meaning you can get on and off the buses within the triangle for free," Jeselnick said.
He next accepted a position with one of the largest banks in Pittsburgh as a Trust Operations Processor.
"I was responsible for opening accounts from five different banks located throughout Pennsylvania and one in Delaware. I was the only person with this responsibility. As time grew on, I was able to make lots of friends with these banks over the phone," Jeselnick said.
Later on, while attending Computer Tech, he accepted a position with a telecommunications company as an administrative assistant for the human resources director. After being laid off from that position, he accepted a temporary position with a local hospital.
"I really wanted to work full-time and after this temp position expired, I accepted another temp position in another department," Jeselnick said. "On the 30th day my manager asked me if I was happy with this position and I responded to say, 'I will be happier if I am full-time.' She picked up the phone and the next day I became a full-time employee.
"If I had to pick one job I’ve worked as my favorite, this would be the one. I was able to accomplish so many different tasks and ideas."
After that, Jeselnick accepted two part-time positions, one with a local grocery store and another with a business making bagels.
"The managers of both of these businesses appreciated my strong work ethic," Jeselnick said. "Being a part-time employee, rarely do you ever get two days off in a row. I was fortunate to be able to ask either business to say, 'These are the two days I am getting off here, can you arrange for these days here?' Every time they said yes."
Over the years, Jeselnick has received a number of accolades for his work. One of the banks he worked at in Pittsburgh gave him the Smashing Bottleneck Award for cost-saving ideas selected for implementation throughout the banks; an Internal Customer Excellence Award for teamwork contributions; a Recognition Award for work performance; and a Quality Recognition Award for meeting quality goals by reducing the unit’s backlog.
Jeselnick took the position at the recruiting company, which was founded by his brother, in 2006. His brother sold the company in 2010, but Jeselnick still works there and is also an associate with one of the big-box hardware stores to earn supplemental income. Jeselnick said he has gotten many personal rewards from the jobs he has held over the years, and that his work ethic was largely influenced by his family, particularly his mother, who told him to find something he liked to do in life.
"When I was very young, my mom sat me down at the kitchen table and wanted me to understand the difference between telling the truth to someone versus wanting to tell a lie. She also explained to me each one of us has a gift. It is up to each of us to figure out what that gift is," Jeselnick said. "She also wanted me to understand, some people work their entire lives in jobs they do not like. 'Mark, whatever job you decide, I want you to be happy,' she said.
"It’s not the job I work, it’s how I act and react to people around me to make our lives enjoyable."
Jeselnick, who is the son of Yolanda Rose Jeselnick and the late Edward Stanley Jeselnick, said he is proud to be from a big family.
"How many people get to say they are 10th of 12 children? I can! I have seven brothers and four sisters. Currently, we have sixteen nieces and nephews. I can also say I am the seventh son of a seventh sibling," Jeselnick said.
According to Jeselnick, he also has a unique name.
"I am the only person on the planet with the ‘spelling’ of the name of Mark A. Jeselnick. I Google it several times," Jeselnick said. "The reason, I believe, is the Benedictine nuns who assisted at Andrew Kaul Memorial Hospital changed the spelling of my dad’s and his brother’s last name from 'Jeselnik' to 'Jeselnick.'"
Jeselnick said he has good memories of St. Marys and returns at least once a year, usually to spend Christmas with his family. He said he has noticed some familiar names on area stores.
"I was very surprised to see the same businesses in St. Marys as we have in Pittsburgh. For example, Giant Eagle – one of my favorite places to shop for groceries, Advance Auto and Dollar General," Jeselnick said.
Jeselnick said he has also seen a familiar St. Marys product in the Pittsburgh area.
"The dentist I go to has told me he recommends Straub beer to his patients. Why? Because it contains no sugars or syrups," Jeselnick said. "Just yesterday I was riding the bus and discovered the bus driver’s husband enjoys drinking Straub beer."