One year ago today, Martin Luther King Day 2013, I began work at my first corporate job. My immediate team members were kind enough to come in on a day that everyone else was working from home. I had a nice orientation session with the group, and I immediately felt comfortable with everyone, including my supervisors.
Not everyone is so lucky to (1) find a job in this economy, (2) like their coworkers, (3) like their bosses, and (4) work with a team that actually values teamwork. I was grateful, yet nervous.
I had reservations accepting the job in the first place. I received a phone call with an unofficial offer a few hours after my interview. I saw other candidates leaving as I came in, so I know I was not the only interviewee. Matt had taken me out to dinner to celebrate the interview, and now we had even more to celebrate! Dog walker and nanny no more! I was a real person!
“Are you going to take it?” Matt asked me. It’s nice to have a husband who doesn’t pressure me into situations.
I nodded, adding “We’ll see what the actual offer is tomorrow and then I’ll make a decision.”
I shared my hesitation with him, uncertain if the job would be fulfilling. I would also be joining the D.C. commuters to Tyson’s Corner, the land that public transportation forgot. Still, I had come home with mostly positives on my list, so what was my hang-up?
I’ll likely never know why I was so hesitant to take that job. Among the many things it taught me about the business world, government bureaucracy, and editing skills, it also taught me to trust my instincts on big decisions.
I knew before the end of my first month that I wanted to quit, but I also knew we needed the money with our wedding approaching. I also feared that leaving a job after a month would look really bad on future applications. Matt told me I could quit whenever I wanted to, although I felt the hesitation in his response. I kept changing my quitting date: tomorrow, one more month, right before the wedding, right after the wedding….
I eventually decided that I would look like a real jerk if I quit right before or after our wedding, especially since my bosses had been very accommodating about my vacation time with respect to bridal showers and such. The pressure point came when I received an email that it was time for my 6-month evaluation. Yikes. It wasn’t that I feared I’d been doing poorly at work (although I’m sure my lack of enthusiasm was beginning to show), it was that I didn’t want to go into a performance review to talk about my future goals when I knew I intended to leave. It would have been a farce on my end and a waste of everyone’s time.
While I felt bad leaving, I knew that it was the best decision for me at the time. I’d been applying to jobs my entire time there, and a spur-of-the-moment application to a tutoring company tipped the scales in my favor. I received the offer from PM while I was at Starbucks interviewing someone for the USA Today article I was working on at the time.
This time, it all felt right.
Matt and I discussed it and agreed that I should pursue this writing/editing/teaching path that was opening up for me. Now, despite a declaration that I would never work another corporate position, I am working as an associate editor for another corporation–but the work is entirely on my time and done remotely. I’ve committed hours to tutoring every week–but if I decide to go on vacation, I just tell my clients I’ll be out those days. I’m in early talks with USA Today about doing more freelance work for them this winter.
All in all, things are going about as well as we could have expected at this point. I took one career leap leaving graduate school and then another into this part-time employment situation.
When I was in my freshman year of college at Mary Washington, I changed my major almost every week. Never officially, but every time a friend saw me they’d say, “Hey! What’s your major this week?!”
I would laugh and joyfully respond with my latest passion. As I stood outside the dorms waiting for a ride from an upperclass friend one afternoon, I began chatting with dormmates about classes. Leighton laughed, “You know, Mallie, I can’t wait to see what degree you actually graduate with.” I chuckled as well, “Me too.”
Nowadays, with two degrees under my belt (neither from Mary Washington, another unexpected turn), people ask me what I’m doing with my life, once again amused that I’ve still not figured it out. No one ever really figures it out, but many people at least settle in somewhere happily.
Today, I’m happy not having it all figured out. I’m feeling the same rush of excitement that I had as a 17-year old freshman with all the majors at my fingertips.
I can make my own path.