Thursday, October 06, 2005

Career Counseling

I need some.

I've been thinking a lot lately about where my career is going and where I want it to go. Now, in all honesty, I would like to spend my day writing and have someone give me lots of money to do it. That isn't going to happen anytime soon, unless some publisher out there wants to by an unfinished, unedited novel. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

No, huh? Oh, well.

I started thinking about this when we hired a new statistician. A lot of what I have been responsible for is now going to him. Personally, I'd be insulted if I were him, considering he has a PhD and I have a little liberal arts BA. But I'm not him, so what do I know? Anyway, with him taking over a lot of those tasks, I'm left with most of the more...menial jobs in the department. I'm a team player, and I'm willing to do my part, but I'm bored. Bored, bored, bored. With no end to the boredom in sight.

My manager thinks she is doing me a favor by taking some of these tasks away from me, but she isn't. The little bit of challenge and creative outlet those things afford me was the only bright spot in my day. I tried to tell her this, but she didn't seem to understand, and told me that I need to be able to give things up. I guess that I didn't do such a good job of communicating with her.

I'm frustrated because I can't get a handle on exactly what my role in the department is right now, and I can't get a hold on where my job and my career is going. To make matters worse, my manager left my position off of her staffing model, and with the COO talking about looking for places we can make cuts at corporate, I'm a little paranoid.

My manager swears that she values me as an employee, and she wants to take me as far as I want to go in the company. But the fact of the matter is that I'm 34 years old, and haven't been on a career path since I graduated from college. I don't know where I can go.

In light of that, I made a list of things I'm good at, and things I like to do, and evaluated them in terms of my current position.

  • Writing. The fact of the matter is that I am a good writer, and I love writing and editing. I get to do some editing now, but it's really just proofreading. I rarely get to write, and most of what I do write are simple, little, e-mails. I get frustrated when people with inferior writing skills are assigned writing tasks while I am stuffing envelopes, and then when I edit their work, they ignore any substantive suggestions.
  • Research. I used to get to do all kinds of research. I love the challenge of looking for articels on particular topics, or actual statistics to back up an observation. But now that the new statistician is here, I've already seen a lot of these tasks given to him. My manager says that I can't give things up, but I like this. I don't want to give this up. I'll give up every single statistical thing that I do in a heartbeat, though. But she isn't taking those away from me.
  • Problem-solving. See above.
  • Design. I may have the artistic ability of a turnip, but I'm good at finding different elements and putting them together in a way that is pleasing to the eye. I do get to some of this, but not as much as I would like. And again, I get frustrated when I see people with no concept of what they were doing putting together flyers, PowerPoint presentations, and the like.

Now, to be fair, I had to make a list of the things that I don't like and that I'm not good at as well.

  • Repetitive tasks. Not only do I hate, hate, HATE doing reptitivie things that require little or no thought and/or effort, I get bored and distracted very easily. That makes me both inefficient and cranky. Naturally about 75% of what I do now that the statistician is getting so many of my tasks falls into this category.
  • Numbers. I hate them. It's not that I'm not capable of working with numbers - I am. But I find them difficult. I get a little dyslexic with them, and have to go over and over what I've done, and basic calculations are sometimes beyond me, not because I don't understand them, but I have trouble with the arithmetic (remind me to tell you about my high school Calculus class sometime). Now, you would think that now that we have a statistician on staff, someone who actually understands this crap, these would be the things that he would be assigned. But no. He gets to research how other companies have measured success with a new technology we are rolling out, while I try to determine what percentage of our drop in revenue is do to which of several events. I don't know how to do that. Heck, I don't even understand the sentence I just wrote.
  • Organization. Now, this is a weakness that is a detriment, and one I have been working on my entire life, from the first time Sister Carol dumped out my desk because it was too messy. I can keep myself organized, but a whole department? Not so much. So naturally, that is part of my job description. I've always wondered, though, if my fondness for piles over files is has something to do with having a creative mind.

Add to all this the fact that, as much as I want to deny it, I seem to have an innate talent for business. I have no idea where it came from, as I never in my entire life have wanted to work in the business world. I'm not proud of any ability I have in that area, and I've pretty much tried to hide it as much as I could. The business world just makes me uncomfortable. I feel guilty about being interested in making money as a business when there are so many people in this country and this world who don't even have enough to survive on. I guess I really am just a bleeding heart.

So where do I go from here? I've looked into graduate programs, but I have no idea where I would go in the company with them. I love the company I work with (even if I'm seeing more of the typical corporate politics coming out now). I love my manager to death. I think she is an amazingly gifted woman who is tremendously unappreciated by upper management. I love my co-workers, even the statistician who is taking away the things I like to do. I even love my manager's manager, who, even though she is "only" the CIO, runs the company for all intents and purposes. She makes me crazy sometimes, but I respect her tremendously.

So, where does that leave me? I have no idea. But I think something has to give at some point in time. All I want for Halloween (Christmas is too far away) is a career.

1 comment:

Chevy Rose said...

Have you ever considered law enforcement?
You are NEVER BORED THERE, and the people you come in contact with is not always very bright, which adds humor.
The second idea is private investigator. Insurance companies need them all the time. Both the health and general liability type.
It requires a lot of writing too, the money is excellant and some travel. Insurance fraud is growing crime and it's not like traffic cop work.