Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What do I want to be when I grow up?

So I know I owe you guys more info on the whole new job thing… The problem is that I am really conflicted about how I feel about it. So forgive me while I try and get my thoughts straight here and of course any (positive) feedback you have to offer me is always welcome. I’m trying to figure out what exactly it is I’m doing right now and I figure maybe I should look back on my past jobs and see if I can figure out what I like and what I don’t like.

So. I’m the type of person that always has to be learning. I can illustrate this by outlining my job progress at any company I’ve worked at since I began working at 16. My first job was with a retail company that specializes in children’s clothes. I began working there part time at 16. A few months in I was getting more and more shifts and also being asked to participate in stocking shifts both at my store and at another nearby store. The regional manager knew my name.

While still working there I took a seasonal retail position with a gaming store during Christmas. When the season was over I was asked if I was interested in taking an assistant manager position with their closest permanent store which was in San Francisco. I declined. I eventually landed with a stationary store and quickly moved from part time salesperson, to a supervisor handling scheduling, training and banking aspects. During my senior year of high school and every summer I worked pretty close to full time. It was assumed I would eventually go through the management program and move up. I did not. I went to college instead.

During the first semester of college or two I held a few boring, menial jobs with absolutely zero brain power required. I worked as a delivery person for a graphic design company, I worked as a nanny (yes – this is what I blame now when people ask me why I do not want children), I worked pretty much anywhere and everywhere that offered me a job. It was crazy but I was in college and really only cared about the paycheck. I wasn’t so concerned about a “career path” at that time.

And then I took my first real estate job as a receptionist for a local high end real estate firm. I started working afternoons, then took some weekends, I helped set up and open a new office, and so on and so on. I finally felt like I was in a place doing something semi-challenging that was making a difference to my employers. And then I got bored. So I took a position as an assistant to the in house lender in my real estate office. Again I felt challenged and excited and like I was an important contributing member of a team. And then I got bored. Again.

From there I took a part-time position with a team of two high volume real estate professionals back at my original real estate firm (but in a different office). I LOVED that job y’all. I felt useful, knowledgeable, challenged. I loved being out looking at houses, I loved staging, I loved marketing, I loved that every day was different. I had left college and was working full time within the first 4 months and I was a licensed realtor in month 7. I worked there for almost 2 years. And then 9/11 happened. I sometimes wonder where I would be today if it hadn’t. Would I have eventually gotten bored there also?

Being unemployed without a college degree in the wake of 9/11 was a scary place to be. I took some seasonal holiday work at Bloomingdale’s (who subsequently asked me to stay on full time) for a few months. I eventually landed as a paralegal/office manager in a estate planning law firm. What I really was however, was a highly paid babysitter for my manic depressive boss. In my short time in that office, people were hired, they were fired (for whimsical reasons like “they didn’t have enough energy”), people quit, threatened lawsuits, books were thrown, emotional melt downs were had… It was stressful to say the least.

And then someone I had worked closely with when I was in real estate found me and began pursuing me to take a position with his company, a mortgage brokerage. It was an easy choice to leave the law firm, though the attorney (my boss) did make some crazy offers to get me to stay. This new job was supposed to be a kind of internship. I was going to work for the broker/owner, basically as his assistant, while I learned the business and eventually went out on my own to become a mortgage banker. That is what it was SUPPOSED to be. What it ended up being was a glorified receptionist position where I was stuck behind a computer or in front of a copy machine for 8 hours straight. No one offered to teach me the business, I wasn’t learning, I wasn’t challenged, and probably most importantly I was not one of the “favorites” in the office. That was the only job I have ever been fired from. I was actively looking for a new job because I was so miserable and someone I sent my resume too forwarded it on to my then boss. Apparently they frown on that.

Unemployment seems to be a common thread here among my job history. Luckily for me the job market was pretty good back then and I think I was actually only unemployed for a week or two. I took a position as the marketing director for a commercial real estate firm specializing in apartment buildings. Finally I was back in a challenging position where I felt like I was growing and learning and making a difference. The only problem? Yet another crazy boss. I seem to attract them don’t I? Only this one was also terminally ill (though interestingly enough for being terminally ill she’s lived quite a full and active life these past years) so it’s not like anyone was telling her she was a raving bitch. Even her husband tip-toed around her and if it’s one thing I’ve learned to hate it’s a spineless man. She would spread rumors about her staff, so and so had a drug problem, this other one drank, this one over here had never gotten her mental faculties back after her husband’s death… But she? Perfect in every way. Funny how her one daughter and son in law didn’t want her in their lives, one son and daughter in law moved as far away from her as they could get and still be in the US and the other daughter… well I think she actually might have had a drunk or alcohol problem. When I started crying on my way into work in the mornings and sobbing hysterically on my way home I knew I had to get out. I resigned the day before my 25th birthday. I had no job lined up. I was unemployed again.

I played around with having my own catering company because cooking had always been a passion of mine. In fact ever since I was a young girl I have dreamed of owning my own restaurant. But frankly culinary school is prohibitively expensive and the few things I catered and actually got PAID for ended up not being enough to pay the bills, so to speak. I remember one remarkable event where after the price of food and equipment and so on I think I made $200. For an event I worked on sporadically for weeks and slaved over for 3 whole days with very little sleep. You do the math, that’s not a very good going rate.

Luckily for me, while I was playing at being a caterer another position came my way. This time it was for a bank, as an assistant to a mortgage loan officer. This position evolved into the position I most recently left after nearly 4 years. And my recent posts and the last year or so aside I loved that job. Again I was challenged and felt like I was essential to a team. But, as seems to be my lot in life, I got bored. It stopped being challenging and started being mundane, there was nothing left for me to learn. And eventually having a boss I loved and work I was good at no longer made up for the heinous commute and the boredom I felt. I felt like the only place to go from there was to be out on my own as a banker. Someplace closer to home, someplace where I could have the flexibility in my schedule to be out meeting with people, to not sit in front of a computer or copier all day, to move on.

But now that I’ve done that I wonder if moving on to a banker position is really what I WANTED or if it was merely what was EXPECTED. I don’t want to look back in 5 years and have yet another string of un-fulfilling jobs behind me. I don’t want to keep finding things I love only to become bored in a few months or years. Why can’t I just find a job and stick in it no matter what like some people can? Why do I always need to be learning, be challenged, doing something new? And probably most importantly is there a career out there for me where I CAN find all of those things?

No comments: