I’ve been at my current job for about four years. It is administrative assistant position within a corporate tech environment. It is a fairly laid-back environment, surrounded by introverted engineers and statisticians, and allows me to have a work-life balance which had been unavailable to me before at my previous jobs. So, that’s nice. However, I’ve been unhappy with it for a long time. It is a rather simple job with low responsibility, but presents little opportunity for someone like me with my background to grow and advance. I’m far too ambitious for that and I know I can accomplish a lot more. So, for a while now, I’ve been casually looking for another job while pursuing freelancing opportunities in the evenings and weekends that can potentially allow me to advance my career. It is slow, and a total grind, but that is the nature of the game.
There are times where I am able to practice mindfulness regarding the grind and find some comfort that I’m healthy, gainfully employed, and that all the energy I’m putting into finding another job advances my career will pay off. However, it can be hard sometimes to maintain that mindfulness. It becomes too easy to focus on the negatives and become dismayed by the lack of progress I am making. And this causes me to feel stuck, and uncertain about my future. I know something will change for better or for worse, but not knowing when and in what form can be hard. I begin to question my ability and my worth, which makes me feel somewhat hopeless. This is not a healthy mindset, but I’m trying to avoid it.
Lately, I’ve been feeling more pressure from this grind because my company is going through massive changes. Every team is reorganizing and moving resources or people to other parts of the company. This also potentially means layoffs. Everyone in the company is on edge because of lack of certainty about their jobs, and my team is no different. People are concerned and worried, two feelings that can negatively impact an office environment.
It also doesn’t help that, among the team, my boss, the director of the team, seems to be the most frustrated and is expressing that accordingly. He was hired in January, with these major company changes announced three weeks later. So, I understand why he is frustrated. The job became something completely different than what he applied for, plus he is at the center of planning for all these changes. I just wish he carried it better because his interactions with me have caused me to feel increased anxiety.
So, I’ve felt some pressure to change jobs. Either I’ll be laid off, or I won’t be. And if I’m not, I’ll be continuing the same job with no growth. The plus side is that I’ll still be gainfully employed, though I still feel unfulfilled and need a change.
I apply to jobs directly. Though, I face challenges in the process. Competition is tough, my background is unique and not concrete, and very few opportunities make sense to take because they would result is very significant pay decreases (not ideal for someone who is financially dependent on themselves).
Where I’ve needed some help, I have contacted recruiters and I hate working with recruiters. I have had very few positive experiences with recruiters. I find most of the ones I’ve worked with to be aggressive and uncaring. I have specific needs for a job regarding pay and location, and I find that I’m still pushed to take the shitty opportunities that come by their desk. And when I express something I’m interested in and qualified enough to do, I’m mainly brushed aside and told generically “this client is looking for someone with more experience.” Nothing makes me feel more like a cog in the capitalist machine than working with recruiters. And I get worried that if I am laid off, then they’ll really be aggressive with me about taking the shitty opportunities just so they can fill it with a warm body and get their commission. All because I absolutely need to get a paycheck.
There has only been one job a recruiter has sent my way that I have been excited about pursuing. It was an admin role, something I don’t want to do anymore, but it was with a very reputable foundation where there was a lot of opportunity for growth and the most amazing benefits package I’ve ever seen. I had never worked harder on an interview in my life before. I did so much research, developed concrete examples to illustrate my experience, deeply believed in their mission and found ways to convey that, put together my smartest looking attire, and consulted with friends working in other foundations.
I went into the interview and absolutely nailed it. It was the greatest interview I had ever done. My recruiter was even contacted a few hours later by the hiring manager expressing that I was an amazing candidate. I was flying high and absolutely confident I had the job.
I waited a week before the answer. All the while, I was at work and really enjoying the thought that I could be leaving soon. I was also mindful that is was possible I still didn’t get the jobs, but I was confident about my performance and overly excited about leaving the sinking ship that is my job.
I did not get the job. My recruiter had asked for feedback from my interview because I don’t have direct access to their clients. Since I didn’t get the job, the feedback would help me improve for my next interview. Or so I thought. The foundation said I was an amazing candidate who did an excellent job interviewing and they had no critical feedback. The decision came down to me and someone else, and they went with that other person due to whatever internal metric I’ll never know.
I was disappointed. It was Friday afternoon when I got the news. Then, I went to the gym and then got dinner with a friend before the movie. I thought coming back to the office would be hard, but it was fine. I’m disappointed, but I’m still driven. I’ll persevere. A change will come and it will come when it needs to. I know that I’ll still feel down sometimes, but that is fine because it is part of the process. I hope I don’t get laid off, and I hope I can get a new job I like soon. I just gotta keep grinding away and being patient, living in the now and not allow my job to distract me from the good things in my life.
Office Space is Mike Judge’s cult comedy classic from 1999 about a group of people who are fed up with their jobs at a software company. The satire is effective and on point, accurately depicting the inane mundaneness of the corporate environment. The soundtrack is also pretty legit. While some songs from the film are more iconic because of the scene (i.e. the use of Scarface’s “Still” when the main characters break a printer with a baseball bat), I’m really partial to the film opening with “Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee” by Canibus and featuring Biz Markie. Containing portions of “Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck, “Show This Jay-Oh-Bee” features Canibus singing about what it is like to face the grind until you reach the point where you just cannot take it anymore. Then it becomes a glorious celebration of the freedom one feels when they shed the shackles of their capitalist oppressors. I won’t be quitting anytime soon, but I think about it so much. Until then, I can watch Office Space and just dream.