Feb 28, 2009

Another thing that sucks about your 20s: unsatisfying jobs

I work for a major corporation in a cubicle. While I'm doing something I have loved doing since middle school (web design), I hate going to work every day. I hate that I have to be in my desk with the computer on by 8 a.m.—not entirely unlike having to be in my desk in homeroom with my homework on my desk by the 8 a.m. bell in high school—and having to sit there until 5 p.m. every day. I hate that all vestiges of creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking have been stamped out of my job, and that a lot of copy-pasting has been left in their place. I hate that I have five managers who, while not all directly over me, constantly look over my shoulder and play "the enforcer" role in our tiny corner of the massive cube farm that is my office. I hate that when I was asked to come up with goals for the year, things I could do that would contribute to our team, I could think of nothing I could do to branch out or to add something extra, because I have been so utterly pigeonholed in my role and been given so little control over my own work.

In short, I have your typical twenty-something job.

To put the job in context, my first job post-grad school was being a flight attendant. It was my real first job, and it was exactly what I had always said I wanted to do when I grew up: a job that wasn't in a cube, that allowed me to travel, and that challenged me. And I loved my job. It might seem weird that being a "glorified waitress," as so many people referred to it, was more challenging and more satisfying than my fancy pants current job. The truth is, though, my job trusted me much more to do my job and presented many more opportunities for growth, individuality, and for creativity. The thing is, I was bringing home a few pennies over $1,000/mo. and that does not pay rent and grocery bills, particularly when half the month, my grocery store was the airport. I was also living in Minnesota, 1800 miles from my boyfriend.

The job I have now was my way of accomplishing two goals that were lacking in my flight attendant job: make money and be close to Kellen. What I didn't realize is that I would be making a complete trade-off in terms of so many of the things I really enjoyed about my last job. This is a typical 20-something career choice, though. You choose between something you love and something that pays.

I don't really see a career change coming any time soon. The economy has most companies putting on hiring freezes, and I doubt I could get something that pays as well as the current job that would be anymore satisfying. And on the whole, my job isn't that bad. I like the vast majority of my co-workers. I like most of my supervisors, however much I do think they tend to micromanage and treat their employees like children. And I'm good at what I do, which...at the end of the day, most of my job satisfaction comes from the fact that I know I kick ass at pretty much every project that comes across my plate. That's important—it means I still have a little bit of self-confidence.

All the same, I long for a job that gives me greater responsibility, greater trust, and greater flexibility. I also want something that is challenging, that allows me to set my own direction with my work, and that gives me greater control not only creatively but also over the process. (I will talk about the problems with the process in my workplace some other time. Suffice it to say, the process at my job, as with most cube jobs, is inefficient and kills any opportunity for innovation or creativity.) I'm not sure yet whether I want to stay in web design, but...whatever field my next job is in, I hope it gives me a greater balance between something I enjoy and something that pays the bills. I don't know why this seems so impossible now.

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly how you feel! I'm 23 and I also work in a cubicle. I'm an assistant for an insurance and investment advisor in Toledo, OH. Boring! I'm a writer but my dad-to-day leaves me completely inspiration-less. It's nice to know that someone else my age feels the way I do, but is also optimistic in this crappy economy. I found your blog from Pink of Perfection; I commented on the grocery store post too. I look forward to reading more here!

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