Life After College: Career in Upward Transit
If you happened to have caught my last post, I left off on a bit of a cliffhanger. This was both intentional and unavoidable. Starting a new job is never quite what you expect, but I finally feel I can provide some insight into what it is like to walk into the corporate world straight out of two years in the low-paying service industry world.
As my last two weeks dwindled away in the kitchen and I prepared to start my new professional career, I actually experienced a lot of anxiety. "Shock" might be a better term for what I felt.
Somewhere in my psyche, probably to keep going at a job I didn't want, I just resigned myself to living the life of underemployment. As reality began to sink in that my underemployment was coming to an end, my whole way of looking at the world began to shift.
My spirit began to lift as the last few days of working in the kitchen were great. I had fun making tasty food for friends, receiving lots of congratulations, and generally enjoying cooking for the first time in quite a while.
My very last day in the kitchen was on a Friday and I jumped into my new role the following Monday. Talk about a bizarre change of pace! I have never experienced anything that quite compares. On Friday I wore to work a uniform equivalent to pajamas, covered in grease, and smelling like a grill. Three days later I headed to work in a suit and tie. The world smelled like roses.
There is something amazingly different about working hard in "white collar" vs. "blue collar" jobs. Working in the kitchen meant that I worked pretty much from 6:30 a.m. straight through 'til lunch closed at 2:30 p.m. The shift was accentuated by two 30-minute breaks; these were monitored by a number of watchful eyes.
Working in an office, I have found myself freer and more productive than ever. The whole atmosphere of a salaried environment is refreshingly different. From day one I have been encouraged to learn as much as I can about the systems that I am responsible for overseeing (I now have a good grasp of both Excel and relational databases, neither of which I knew nearly anything about prior to starting). It has been a wonderful experience so far. Every day I learn something new.
One of the hallmarks of low-paying, low-skill jobs is that meetings are a giant waste of time. I had never been to a meeting where anything was really accomplished prior to starting my new job. Meetings at my former jobs involved reviewing information that was either common knowledge or totally useless; the meetings always seemed to be management's justification for itself.
Wow, how meetings have changed! I have participated in probably 10-15 meetings in the past three weeks. Each one has been informative, collaborative, and productive. It is a new paradigm to me; I love being a part of a group that really gets teamwork!
For the first time since I graduated from college I feel that my career and my finances are heading in the right direction. It is a grand new adventure which I have just begun to explore and enjoy.
My next step is to look into refinancing my student loans. It is crazy to think, and sad that it is possible in the first place, that even with a good-paying job, student loan debt remains a burden.