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Amanda Peterson

Amanda Peterson

Milwaukee Art Museum | Former Google exec | Class of 1997

Before joining Google in 2014 as its head of naming, Amanda Peterson (BS ’97) always told folks her favorite job was one that involved late-night hours and minimum-wage pay.

But boy, was being a pool hall attendant in the Illini Union basement ever fun.

“I sat in the little booth, drawing cartoons, doing homework and chatting with the folks trying to get their name moved up higher on the waiting list. There was a full jukebox, but I think every other song was either New Order’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ or James Brown’s ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.’

“For a few hours, the pool hall had the din of conversation and the thwack of balls, with the scary bounce of the occasional trick shot gone wrong, but since it was in the student union, there was rarely a drunken ruckus and there was never cigarette smoke. I had great philosophical and pop-culture conversations with people as they waited for tables to open up. Sure, I was often the only girl in there for hours, but everyone was totally polite — probably because I wielded the power of the waiting list on a jam-packed Friday or Saturday night.

“I ended up taking an off-campus job the next year that was theoretically more related to my major, but it was far less fulfilling or entertaining than the pool hall,” added Peterson, who in July left Google to become director of marketing and communications at the Milwaukee Art Museum.