Monday, 20 May 2013

Some Observations on Work

I'm aware that getting a graduate degree doesn't guarantee career success. Luckily, I didn't tie my degree to my economic success. I went for the degree I wanted, and left my career to my experience.

However, now that I'm knee-deep in my thesis, I can honestly say that I feel for those liberal arts majors who don't have the luxury of the GI Bill.

Before you embark on a graduate degree, consider how much it's going to cost you. I can say with personal experience that no one gives a shit if you have an MA in Humanities. Just this week I was commended on how hard I was working and told to hurry up and finish so that I could start working for just above minimum wage.

I'm lucky to be graduating without any debt, but if you're going to rack up a ton of student loans to finance your education, consider whether your future career will pay off those loans. Look at career projections and expected earnings for your area. You may have to move in order to find work, so be prepared for that.

I realize we're in a recession, but I can say with certainty that there are plenty of low-paying jobs available. It may not be your dream career, but it will provide you with some cash to pay down some loans while you look for something related to your degree. Take anything. You'd be surprised how much fun you can have (and how much you can learn) from something you weren't expecting to do. I wouldn't classify myself as a professional florist/art instructor, but I've learned a lot about customer service and people in general. Below are just a few of my observations.

1. Consider the intelligence of the average person, and then realize that at some point, you're going to come in contact with the bottom 50%.

The best example I can give is the fact that everyone loves delivery, but not everyone knows their own address. This is doubly so in rural areas, where people feel the need to describe the buildings around them in order to tell you where they are.

2. Everyone has a different pet peeve, and you won't know what that is until you piss them off.

Things that might not bother you will cause a complete stranger to flip the hell out. You will consider their outrage to be insane, until some other service worker pisses you off. I've had people lose their minds because they weren't sitting where they expected to be. If they're clearly insane, their friends will inevitably tip well to compensate you for the inconvenience, which is nice.

3. Every job has things that are less than ideal.

Maybe your coworkers are complete idiots, but you get as much vacation as you want. Look at the pros, and balance them against the cons.

4. High salary doesn't necessarily guarantee career satisfaction.

See every post from last year.

5. Your passion might not be everyone else's.

Want to build a website devoted to your deepest interests? Make sure that at least one other person on earth shares your passion. Otherwise, buy a journal and save yourself a lot of time and money.

6. Not everyone tips, but everyone has an excuse if they don't.

In cases where I wasn't expecting a tip, it just makes it awkward when you say something along the lines of, "So…you rock, but I don't have any cash on me..." Just smile and say thank you instead.

7. Some people are having a bad day. Don't take it personally.

I keep this in mind when people are raging over their funeral flowers. They're living the worst day of their life. If they need to take it out on me, I get that. It's better they let loose on a florist than venting their frustrations to their equally miserable family members.

8. Whatever you do, stay out of management.

I've never been so happy to not have a management position. It's so freeing to say, "Let me get my manager," and step away from the situation. My apologies to J; I understand how much your position sucks.

9. Know what works for you.

You might find out mid-degree that you hate people. If you're on the fast track to be a psychologist, it might be time to consider other options before you push through to the end.

10. As long as you're happy, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

There are plenty of people out there who think I've lost my goddamn mind. That's fine, because it's my life. I'm the one who has to get up everyday and decide whether or not I'm happy with my circumstances. The same fact is true for you. Your definition of happiness might be living in a vamper and working as a parking attendant. It might be moving to a foreign island and making a living as a bartender. It doesn't matter, as long as you're ok with your decisions. In the words of Thoreau, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Find your path and own it.


  1. #9 - What you did there, I see it -_-

  2. :-D I considered psychology for a long time. I still consider it every now and then. But then I remember that I would have to engage people and look interested ALL DAY. That seems like a lot of effort.


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