I’m like that girl on Mad Men

I’ve bitched enough here about the jobs I’ve hated so I should probably take time to talk about how much I enjoy my job. I’m approaching my second year here which is really quite amazing. I’ve had a varied career history and most of the time I ended up leaving most jobs before I even made it a year. There are a couple of things I find interesting about my current job. The first is that it doesn’t have anything to do with what I went to college for.

My initial plan was to do something in the arts or find some way to write professionally. I remember being a senior in high school and finding out you could major in English instead of math or science or auto repair. I spent the next eight years bouncing from college to college studying literature, creative writing, and finally rhetoric and composition. After a brief experience substitute teaching, I knew I had no interest in being a high school English teacher so my next goal was to be a college professor. That never materialized, but along the way I was able to experience several other careers I thought were dream careers. I was a cops and courts newspaper reporter, I was a New York City publishing editor, and I even taught college writing. I quickly realized there were two ugly similarities between all of the jobs: They all paid shit and the all sapped my creative writing energy. After working in a creative field all day, the last thing I wanted to do at night was write some more. My productivity suffered. So now I’m in a job that’s not creative and my productivity is jolly.

The second thing about my job is that I’ve been training for it all along without even realizing it. I first came to the clerical field in 1996 as a community college student. I was looking for summer employment that wouldn’t bore me silly and Kelly Services was there recruiting. I had never really considered the clerical field before, but they had the cutest recruiter so I went on over and talked to her. She signed me up for an interview the next day at their office. I showed up wearing my nicest suit, resume in hand, and found them short staffed. To help out, I started answering the phones and they were impressed with how quickly I took to the job. So for the next six months I worked right there in the Kelly office getting a crash course in the secretarial arts. I had good computer skills which seem to be required of the more modern clerical workers and soon found myself training other temps on office software systems. Eventually though they found me a more permanent job with General Motors.

I’ve only come to realize in the last few years what a great opportunity that was and wish I hadn’t given it up. But I also realize that if I had stuck with it, I would have been let go like most of the other GM employees. For that summer though, I continued my crash course in the clerical field. I worked with some mid level managers and when their bosses saw what I could do I started supporting them as well. I was making good money, and had good hours. Being the stupid kid I was though, I didn’t want to be trapped as a secretary and wanted to go back to school to play on the newspaper and in the writing center. The next summer though, faced with the prospect of working at the grocery store I’d started off at 16, I went back to Kelly and they found me something. This pattern continued for the next many years. Kelly would find me a decent temp job, I’d do a good job at it, they’d hire me on permanently and then I’d quit right around my year anniversary.

Then I grew the hell up. I was about to get married and was sick of being poor and sick of being a nomad. I’d bailed on the soul sucking technical support job that Kelly started me off with, but was able to talk them into giving me one last shot. Now, two years later I realize what a blessing this job is. It started off as a routine secretary job doing a lot of typing and filing and copying. But by the time they hired me on permanently I’d made the job my own. Now I do a little grant work, some research support, and quite a bit of work with department financials. It’s challenging enough to keep me from being bored and my work is actually helping people. Every once in a while I think about maybe working on a Masters Degree in Health Policy or something to become a manager, but I’m not quite that responsible yet. I like my job, and I like writing when I get home for now. This is the first job I’ve had where I wouldn’t immediately quit the day I get a book deal. I can see the two coexisting nicely well into my future.