Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So Here's The Thing...

I was reading through my archives a few days ago, amazed at how much and how frequently I used to write here. But then, I was a few years younger and had more energy; the depression and the ensuing medications hadn't scrambled my brain yet, so I thought more efficiently; my work schedule was two fewer hours with a ten-minute commute, so I had more free time; and most importantly, I had a much easier job, so I had time on the job to write.

Nowadays, I have little energy, my brain is fried, I spend three fourths of my waking day either at work or heading to or from work, and that job keeps me completely occupied the entire time I'm there. Of course, I do have some free time, if Grandmother doesn't want me to take her somewhere, or Caroline doesn't want to go somewhere, or there are no Court shows or anything... but I seem to spend that time on Facebook or playing puzzle games or surfing for porn.

So instead of posting every time a thought crosses my mind, I've fallen into the habit of only posting when something important happens in my life... and the definition of what's important becomes broader and broader. Like, after posting about my dreadful Disneyland vacation, I rather dropped the ball and neglected to post about my quite lovely Oregon vacation three weeks later. But I didn't have any breakdowns or epiphanies, nothing amazing or horrible happened, and I took all these pictures and I'd have to upload them and I was too tired and lazy to be bothered... so the whole thing was thrown under the bus.

But before we continue, here is my favorite picture, taken along the coast:

Well, anyway, on to topic... I once again have something on my mind, something potentially life-changing, and I need to share about it and record it for posterity.

So I'm having job drama again; but this time it's neither worrying about losing my job nor being unemployed and looking for a new job: this time, I am worried about applying for a new job without having gone through the usual procedure of getting booted out of my current job first.

Wait, let me back up and give it to you in the proper order...

A few months ago, I was sitting and chatting with my office-mate (who is also my supervisor) "Beth" (not her real name, naturally) and we got on the topic of upward mobility within our company (which, you'll remember, is a social-services nonprofit).

Upward mobility is actually fairly common here, as the muckety-mucks always prefer to promote from within whenever possible, as it saves time and keeps good people working for us instead of for someone else. So Beth and I were talking about jobs that we'd seen that we might like to move on to someday. And I said I'd like to have the quality assurance job held by "Janet" (again a pseudonym), based on what I'd seen of it... she's the person you call when some input error needs to be fixed in the database, the person who trains new employees on how to use the database, and the person who massages the data and generates the data into reports for various internal and external parties.

My cup of tea, right? I love data! And it has a teaching component and a customer service component (internal customers rather than external customers, even), so it looked like the best job for me to grow into when I get tired of the job I have.

But just three weeks after this conversation, Janet up and quits to take a more research-oriented job somewhere else. I was stunned! I vowed to not covet anyone else's job ever, for fear that they would also leave abruptly. In a company that is always at least a little understaffed, sudden departures create havoc.

I particularly thought it was very poor timing... if her departure was to have been any use to me, I'd have to have some more experience under my belt, more of a reputation in the company, and more... well, moreness. I figured someone would be hired shortly, and I'd have to wait ages and ages for him or her to vacate in my favor.

Well the months passed on by, and I sort of forgot about the whole thing, except when attending the meetings of the POMSST committee (which which stands for "product outcomes management system strategy team...the POMS part is what I refer to here as "the database") on which Janet and I both served... and even more, later, as the circuits by which one requests data-corrections became increasingly Byzantine. But it did not strike me as unusual, jobs frequently remain vacant for a long time, since our company does take forever and a day to complete a hire.

But then "Doug" (who was Janet's boss) stopped by my office and asked me to please pretty-please apply for the job... all of the resumes he'd received since Janet left were from recently-laid-off engineers from video-game companies, people who had the technical quality-assurance experience but lacked the customer-service component the job requires. Though I lack the advertised qualifications (such as a business degree and three years of related experience) Doug thinks I can do the job, based mostly on my contributions to the POMSST committee as well as emails I've sent him about improving the intake forms.

Sooo... what do I do? There are so many pros and cons.

I mean, yeah, I want the job, but I don't feel ready for it yet... I wanted to stay in my current job at least another year before I started looking for advancement opportunities; but this opportunity won't be there in another year, it's here now.

On the other hand, do I really want to give up my cozy desk in my comfy office with my agreeable boss/office-mate in our lovely Berkeley location, and go work in the hideous rabbit-warren Richmond office with people I don't know in a room without windows?

On the other other hand, this new job pays WAY more money than I'm making now, like half again as much...and considering the deplorable state of my finances, this is a very persuasive point.

That's a lot of hands. There are more hands, but they're really sub-hands to the hands listed above, concerns about the commute and potential personality clashes and leaving Beth in the lurch by vacating my position. It's been very confusing and upsetting, all in all.

Well, after three weeks of dithering over all these hands, I decided to go just say "fuckitall" and go for it. Part of that decision was inspired by a whole week of customer-service overload while I covered the career center duties for its vacationing admin (after which the idea of never speaking to another external customer again had great appeal)... but more importantly, most of my objections were fear-based: a fear of responsibility and a fear of stress and a fear of being so much more of a grownup than I'm ready to be and a fear of what would happen if I got into the job and totally sucked at it (in my current job, if I make a mistake, only Beth knows; in that job, if I made a mistake, it would be known and obvious to a dozen people, several of whom are at the executive level).

Of course, some of those fears are perfectly valid... I mean, I can't take a lot of stress, it makes me sick; and my happiness does depend a lot on my environment, I need spacious rooms and windows and trees...the Richmond location is truly ugly, in a sketchy neighborhood, and a lot further away from home on congested freeways.

However, my friend Jason (who doesn't need a pseudonym, since I have been talking about him in this blog for years) who also works in the same company (who in fact told me about and helped me get my current job) soothed some of these fears. Our company almost never fires people for getting in over their heads (gross breaches of company policy being the usual cause), they just move the offending person to another position that better suits him. Our managers also respond well to negotiation, so I might very well (if offered the job) negotiate having my office in Berkeley instead of Richmond since it's more centrally located for travel to all our offices.

But the main thing he pointed out to me is that applying for the job doesn't oblige me to accept the job; I can bring up my concerns at the interview, float the idea of working from the Berkeley office... and if I decide I don't want to take the job after all, I can simply decline.

I don't know if I'll have the nerve to decline, I've never in my life declined a job... but like I said, I've never in my life been in the position of having a job I actually like when being offered another job. It's very strange.

So anyway, having decided to take the step, I had to update my resume to reflect my current job so that I could send it in with my application. But (on top of the difficulty of having to encapsulate my current job duties) after taking a gander at my most current resume, the one that I used for the job I have now, I discovered that it could not be converted... it was an administrative assistant's resume, completely unsuitable for a quality assurance job. I had to rewrite from the ground up.

Well, that took me a couple more weeks. I've always hated writing resumes anyway, the idea of trying to sell myself is always difficult for me; and I know from working in employment services that resumes have changed somewhat in form and content since I first learned to write them (more than ten years ago), so simply describing the jobs I've had won't cut the mustard anymore... I needed bullet points and sans-serif fonts and action words.

As usual with writing problems, it resolved itself on a phrase... I went to sleep thinking about personal professional assets, and woke up with the words "a strong sense of investigative curiosity" in my mouth (literally... I spoke it aloud when I woke up). From that, it was cake.

Of course, cake though it may be, the resume suffered the same lack of time and energy that affects this blog, so it was another week before I finally completed it and got it ready to fax. And even then, I had a qualm or two about faxing it... but I held my breath and pushed the buttons, and now the whole thing is out of my hands.

That was all a week ago, now I just have to wait to hear back. And I'm not on pins and needles about it, either; in fact I can't say I'm really invested in whether or not I get the job at all... making the decision to apply was enough investment, now I am perfectly content to just wait and see.

However, I am trying very hard to get caught up with my backlogged work: if offered the job, I'd really hate to leave Beth holding the bag and trying to keep up the office's workload while searching for my replacement. And even if I don't get the job, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being all caught up.

So that's what's going on with me these days. How's with you?