Thursday, February 05, 2009

Just want to bang on the drum all day

So I've had some really terrible jobs. Here's a few things that happened at each of them.

1. My first job after college was at a start-up bio tech company. My title was "analyst" but they really had no idea what they wanted me to do. I answered phones, did a little accounting, graphic design, and even bottled liquid wax that they sold to investigators. The male counterpart (same age, same title) sitting next to me was not expected to answer the phone, nor was he expected to plan his lunch time with the other "girls" who answered the phone. We were expected to put in long hours which was hard for me because I had so little work to do. I lasted a year. It was a very long year.

2. Then I went to work at an academic library shelving books like I had in high school. I liked it better their though I was kind of apalled by my boss' lack of work ethic. She once sent me to Filene's basement in the middle of the work day because there was a big bra sale. I liked working with the students though since they were only a few years younger than I was. I lasted two years.

3. After that I went to Grad School and my "job" there was the best part of my school experience. I really have no complaints, even though I did a lot of data entry so much of the reading was in Spanish that it wasn't boring.

4. My first job after grad school was in my field. I was stunned by how little work I had to do and spent entire days thrifting for kitchenware on eBay. At one point I was supervising three people, none of whom ever seemed to have any work. Pointless meetings abounded. I lasted a year.

5. I worked briefly in healthcare in an underserved area. The office was incredibly unprofessional. Smoke would drift in from the guy working next door and no one knew what to do about it. The director used like 6 different fonts in her monthly newsletter and would only let staff sharpen their pencils when she wasn't there (she had the only pencil sharpener). Before long I was doing computer trouble shooting, billing, and nutrition counseling. I lasted a year, and during that year I endured a country music radio station in the office!!!

6. Then I took a job doing legal work for a manufacturing firm. (Was I using my English degree? The world may never know). I had my own office and a great boss. But I didn't really have enough work to fill 40 hours. (They asked me to keep track of my time for tax/billing purposes and it was not unusual for me to have 12 billable minutes in a day.) My boss didn't seem to care so I read books and did the NYT crossword puzzle online. The best part about this job was that everything I did was conducted by phone, e-mail, or fax, so I never had to go to pointless meetings. I still exchange Christmas cards with one of the lawyers, whom I've never met. I would have stayed there but after Henry was born I didn't want to put him in daycare for a job that I was only lukewarm about. They let me work from home until H was about 14 months, but I really couldn't go back. And that was it. I lasted two years, but more than a year of it was spent out of the office.

I have no earthly idea how to convert these experiences into something better in the future.

3 comments:

kagemom69 said...

Welcome to my world.....Jack of All trades - master of none....I think you may fall under the category of "consultant" (air quotes would be more suitable here but you know...)

Lumpyheadsmom said...

Hey, finding a job is a tough thing - even if you've been in one field for your whole career (just ask Aunt Bob).

Maura said...

You know, this is sort of embarrassing to admit, but when I was sitting around in a web producer job wondering what I could do that I would like and would use my tech skills and make my degree seem worthwhile, I actually read some of those career books like What Color is Your Parachute and took some of those aptitude tests (the ones that give you letters like INTJ, tho of course now I can't remember what mine is).

I also had some luck reading about alternatives to traditional academic career tracks (i.e. non-professor jobs) -- maybe there is something similar out there for your field?