(Warning – a post about the history of my working life that got a bit lengthy…)
Waking up for work this morning was a bitch as usual, but it did lessen the pain a bit to realize I only have FIVE MORE WEEKS before I’m free of full time corporate cubicle soul sucking hell indefinitely.
(I plan to talk to my employer about part time options sometime during my maternity leave…. If that doesn’t work out, then I don’t really have a plan except finding a part time job I don’t hate. In the meantime, this blog and my life would have to become much more focused on the “frugal”).
I started working when I was 14, serving dinners in a retirement community. I LOVED my job. The residents would come to the dining room every night, which was nicer than any restaurant I’d ever eaten in, and we’d serve whatever they chose from that night’s options.
It was so fun seeing the same old folks every night, working with a bunch of other rowdy teenage characters, and getting to eat all the leftovers we wanted.
I worked there until I turned 16 and was old enough to apply for my real dream job, sales clerk at Contempo Casuals. I LOVED my job there too. I loved the culture of working in the mall, dressing up in clothes bought with my employee discount, talking to customers, all my fun co-workers. I even loved working busy times like x-mas.
I worked there through the rest of high school and on breaks from college (I went out of state 4 hours away) until sophomore year when the place converted to a Wet Seal and was filled with pink and I decided it wasn’t really my style anymore.
In between and during college I worked a bunch of random customer service, waitressing, and coffee shop jobs, most of which I liked pretty well.
My major was Industrial Engineering, and there were job fairs every semester where you were supposed to find summer interships to get you started in your career. I put off getting one until the summer after my 4th year in college, because I wanted to have fun and not wake up early.
So my first experience in the “real” world was as a summer intern at Goodrich Aerospace, where they designed and built sensor systems for airplanes. I was supposed to work with the company nurse and head Health, Safety, & Environmental engineer to improve ergonomics for the people building the parts.
What I remember most from that summer was how fun it was to live in Minneapolis on my own for the first time, trying not to fall asleep on my 40 minute commute out to the ‘burbs in the morning (where people started at 7:30 a.m.!!), and wondering what the hell all the rest of the real engineers seemed so busy doing all the time.
My duties consisted of a list of vague projects that I had to keep working with other people on and things took forever, so I passed the time surfing the internet, walking around and talking to people, and generally finding anything to entertain myself so I didn’t fall asleep at my desk. But, my boss seemed to like me and gave me a good review, and I got paid twice as much as I ever had in my life, so all was good. Back to school in the fall.
The next summer I got an internship at Andersen Windows, where, obviously, they design and build windows. I honestly can’t recall what my projects were supposed to be without hurting my brain, but I was working with the manufacturing engineers which meant spending time out on the noisy, chaotic, HOT plant floor.
What I remember most from that summer was how fun it was to live in Minneapolis on my own for the second time, trying not to fall asleep on my 40 minute commute out to the ‘burbs in the morning (where people started at 6:30 a.m.!!), and trying not to get too sweaty going down to the manufacturing floor.
That summer I also met another intern who’s still one of my best friends, she lived across the street in the “intern house” and we’d go eat lunch there every day and watch episodes of sex and the city. We both hated the place, but somehow (money!) I got suckered into returning.
I graduated one semester later in December 2005, with no idea what I really wanted to do except apply for a bunch of international work programs which mostly didn’t start until the next fall. The people at Andersen seemed to like me so much (sadly, looking back, it was probably some sort of affirmative action for women in engineering plan to meet HR’s quota or something – rant for a different post) and made me an offer to come back as a temp, which was a perfect solution at great pay (except that I hated the place).
So I suffered through four more months there, always plotting my escape. Until they offered me a spot in their engineering rotation program. A year long deal where you basically get paid a lot to intern in several departments over the course of the year to learn more about the company and see where is the best fit for you.
Since I had no exciting work abroad offers, I accepted, figuring I’d find SOME department I liked.
I was wrong. Each one was just as boring, I never felt like I knew what I was doing, and really could never figure out what the real employees in any area seemed so busy doing.
That year I met and knew I would marry Nathan, so with him already in law school, my fresh out of college “I’m going to travel the world” ideas were put on hold.
At the end of the year they placed me in a permanent position in a department I hadn’t expressed any interest in, doing work that was completely boring and difficult at the same time.
I reached my breaking point in the fall of 2007 and started applying for other jobs, any job.
How I got my current job is still sort of a mystery to me. I applied for a bunch of positions at this large insurance company because it was close to my apartment and I thought their logo was cute. Seriously.
There’s nothing engineering related about it, most people here have some sort of general business degree. I do mostly super easy administrative work and people are really impressed when I can make a nice excel spreadsheet that calculates things for them.
I loved this job at first, it was so close to home, showing up at 9 is perfectly acceptable, and the people seemed cool enough.
But after a year or so, it started to get on my nerves. Realizing I wanted to do something more meaningful. Realizing I didn’t at all aspire to move to the position “above” me after seeing all the bullshit they have to deal with. Finding it harder and harder and almost impossible to even appear like I care about anything going on with the corporation. Finding it harder and harder to BE around and relate to people who actually DO seem to care about this stuff.
The reasons why I’m unhappy with my job could take up a lot more room here. But I’m getting out. Almost three years to the day I started. Thank you Nathan for knocking me up, for being supportive of my views regarding working while having kids, and thank you little Janey for finally giving me a good enough reason to feel like something is more important than paying off our debt as fast as possible. I’m finally choosing happiness, and for me that is staying home at least part time with our baby girl.
P.s. Why did I major in engineering in the first place? Long story, but basically I was really good at math in high school, put engineering as an interest on my college app due to encouragement from my dad, got accepted straight into the college of engineering, and never switched out. It was a “good” major and I thought I’d make a lot of money. If I’d had a specific passion for like, all of a sudden wanting to be an art major or something, I probably would’ve, but nothing like that ever called to me.