Working Full-Time as a Part-Time Employee

I’ve been interviewing prospective freshmen for my alma mater, and I don’t wish I was them, but I wonder if I used to be that hopeful. I know the college process is beyond stressful now, and where you go and what your GPA is will determine whether you get that entry level analyst jobs, or end up flipping burgers at Burger King, a position that now requires a college degree. I don’t want to be a college freshman and know that, I like how I was thinking that college was about exploring my interests, as naive as that was. It was less stressful.

So these students, or at least most of them, were very ambitions. They talked about contributing to the greater good by working for non-profits or the Peace Corps, they talked about unifying countries, and creating their own businesses. I remember on one of my scholarship applications, to Wake Forest actually, where I wrote about wanting to start a homeless shelter that was self-sustainable, and served as like a transition house out of homelessness. I saw a similar concept on 60 minutes. I could put the business plan together and start fundraising, but seeing as no one thinks I’m fit for a full-time job, would they really invest in this goodwill endeavor? And then how can I even help the homeless when the only reason I wasn’t homeless was because I moved back home for about 15 months? A side note: I did not receive any scholarship offer from Wake Forest, and they wanted me to pay just as much to attend their school over a top 10 school, so pretty much, that’s why I said “no” to their admissions offer.

So I used to be just as hopeful as those students were when I was their age. It was refreshing to see that, and I believe that they can accomplish their goals. Most of them were guys, all of them were white, so they had that going for them. They would get into good schools, and all they needed to do is get an A- GPA. I probably would still like to open that homeless shelter eventually. Deep down inside I still feel the desire to help others, and hope for the future, if I didn’t I probably would have already committed suicide, because that’s when it usually happens, at the very end when all other options have been exhausted.

Right now, my focus is being content in the space that I am in. I am trying to stay in the present, and not plan or think too far ahead. I am also working on being less ambitious, because when your expectations aren’t as high, the fall is not as great.

Over the summer I temped for a little bit, which helped me to realize that I could make the money I needed without working full-time. It’s all about the profit margin: hire someone who’s more than qualified as a temp, and you can save a lot of money while getting a more than qualified employee. Funny story: for one job I did, I was calling parents reminding them to submit applications for a new school. I got to speak in Spanish, Portuguese, and French, so that was nice. (My coworkers were impressed too.) I also thought the school was pretty interesting and liked being able to speak with parents about it. I absolutely did not like being on the phone all day. Some hiring manager there took me aside and suggested I apply to the Office Manger position. I asked her what type of commitment she was looking for, and she said about 2 years, and I said I would think about it. She was a bit shocked, and my mother said she was probably wondering why a temp would turn down a full-time job. I had plans to move to Florida, and as I said I did not like being on the phone all day.

I considered it, but it wasn’t the job I was looking for, or the right location, so there are two strikes. I would have to apply, it’s not like they were offering me the job even though they already had my resume, and by that point thinking about having to write another job application would literally make me sick to my stomach. Also, what would be the benefits? In thinking about it now, I guess I could’ve just applied, got it, and then quit when I wanted to, but I liked them so I didn’t want to do that. The pay would’ve been decent, not really enough to maintain a good work life balance (the cost of living in Boston is well above the nations average). I would’ve had benefits, but I can get that on my own with ObamaCare. I was living rent free too, so I didn’t need to show any income to qualify for housing. In hindsight, I should’ve just applied and if I got it just quit when I wanted, but pretended to be interested career development and growing within the organization, blah, blah, blah.

My contact at the temp agency was really good this time around. She would call pretty frequently. I had tried them out for a month or so before grad school and never heard from anybody. So this person even called me when I was out of the state on “vacation”. I got a two week job as a Teaching Assistant, and I just didn’t know how my having another job would impact my relationship with the temp agency, so I kept it to myself. Again, I was working with bright-eyed, hopeful teenagers, and that was refreshing. I did it because I do enjoy teaching, I would like it on the side in some way, which I am working on a bit now. To be honest, it feels nice also to be appreciated for the things i am passionate about and for people to at least occasionally think it has some merit. I mean I’m not looking for praise, but to be grouped together with someone who thinks the singular of “espaƱoles” is “espaƱole” and to be passed over for a job with the State Department that was given to someone who majored in Public Diplomacy and claims fluency in Spanish, but who could not converse in the language in Cuba and is one of the most culturally insensitive people I have ever known, but then have an attentive audience, even if it’s just kids, gives me a moment to appreciate again what I have accomplished.

So back in Boston, I went back with a consulting firm that I had started with in the spring. It was an on-call position and there was a lot of cold-calling. I wasn’t enjoying it and I wasn’t cutting it. They met my asking price, and I got paid more for my languages, but the hours weren’t consistent. So I had a temp job with the local government, and left the consulting firm for benefits, and consistent hours. That’s probably when it started to be more about the money.

The temp job with the state government turned into a seasonal position to go through until the end of winter. I was processing unemployment insurance as a glorified customer service representative. (Note: the demographics of those applying is not what people would think, and certain people actually don’t apply because of fear of the government.) What I learned from that experience: the local government will hire anyone and they’d rather higher internally than recruit, probably to save money, but some people are being overpaid. What I also learned: there are stupid people in this world, plenty of customer services reps do not know what they’re talking about, I loathe headsets and will never wear one again in my life. To sum it up: I hated my job. I did enjoy using Spanish and Portuguese, and even providing the written translations that the Mass government failed to provide. I got paid well, I guess, less than with the consulting firm, but I got overtime and benefits, but picking up trash for $7/hour was more enjoyable. Management was horrendous, my manager would sigh whenever anyone asked him a question. Oh, and I had tried to negotiate my salary and was denied, lol. We were getting $14/hr as temps, so I think the assumption there was $21.57 was a step up for people who had been temping for years maybe and don’t have a college degree. I had actually applied for the full-time equivalent of the position and never heard anything. While I was there I applied to two different positions within the state government, one in legal, primarily because it was interesting, and another in health because it paid more. I interviewed with the one in health pretty much because they were told to interview me, but I failed at it because I talked about analysis, which was in the job description, but all they do is data entry.

But the highlight of my time there was when I left. I think the next time I will be this happy might be when China becomes the world’s largest economy. So in the call center, where I was working, we had “phone police”. You had to press a certain button depending on what you were doing. I wasn’t bothered at first, I think because all they cared about was numbers, and I was meeting the numbers in English and Spanish. I might have been applying for jobs at the same time, but doing what I did did not required a lot of brain power. One time the guy came around and asked about why I wasn’t on a call. I said I was doing a translation and he went away. This was like a week or so before I left. I had just applied for a job that was hiring immediately in a location far from the disappointment of Boston. I got a call on a Friday. I recognized the number, put myself on lunch at 10:30, and was told I go the job! I could not contain myself. I confirmed the salary, now since it’s about the money I should at least make more than what I did before, but I hated my job at the time, and being in Boston, so I was somewhat flexible. The salary, er, hourly rate, was perfect. I had found out I got accepted to school for the summer, so the timing was perfect too, the job ends just before then. Of course the phone police comes over. He said what he said. I said ok, and logged off the box. He was a nice guy, took his job way too seriously, and could’ve been focusing on the people who clearly weren’t doing their work, so I let it go. I went to my “wonderful” manager, and said I’m moving. I had thought about telling him what I thought of him, but that would’ve been a waste of my breath, and that’s who he is and he probably won’t ever change. I was giving him my badge, and he said I might want to keep it if I come in on Monday. I said nope, I’ll just use my vacation time. He let me put it in for that Friday. He asked for an email to send to HR, and there I explained that I got another job, which probably explains the hold up with transferring my retirement funds, that and not giving 2 weeks notice. But what did they expect with hiring all the temps in my group, even the ones who were surprising failing at the job by low and high standards, not letting me negotiate my salary, the horrible management, and harassing me with the phone police. I left and I breathed a sigh of relief and prepared to move the following week.

My job now is great. It’s in DC. I am completely against the cost of living here, even though it is better than Boston. It’s capitalist at it’s best. Southerners are fascinated by DC and northerners feel they can fix the government, so everyone, but me, really wants to be here, and that helps to drive rent up because of the demand, then the jobs, and the new apartments also help drive the rent prices up, and then even the cheaply made becomes ridiculously expensive. I though, am happy to be out of Boston, further south, better compensated for my work, and without a headset.

As I said, this is just a temporary position. I’ve come to grips with that. I have been looking at full-time positions near my new school, which is in a state far from DC, and have remained somewhat hopeful. Based on my experiences in the past year, I know that I can survive on just temporary assignments, so I’m wondering what I would actually gain from working full-time. It would pretty much be the job security, at least on paper, because I’m done with the government and non-profits, so the private sector can let you go whenever they want. That security would be nice, but again at this point I become sick when I think about writing another job application. I actually applied for some temp positions and internships for the summer. One place got back to me, about a full-time position in the DC area, that I didn’t even apply to. The money’s nice, so I guess I would be stupid not to stay for that. I had applied to them right out of grad school I think, unless I’m confusing them with another company, and was hesitant about applying to them again, never heard anything, and thought it would be nice to string them along. So I haven’t heard from them yet, it’s only been a day, but I’m not holding my breath. Even thinking about the possibility that something could come of that is a waste of energy that I’d rather use for something else. And at this point I don’t need the job. I have money coming in, loans are deferred, I was able to get rid of all ties to Bank of America finally, and I happen to have a decent investment portfolio. I would very much love to tell the companies/organizations that overlooked me just because my degree doesn’t end in “S” or say “Economics” to: [insert expletive here].

So that brings me to the title of this message. I keep thinking I’ve been out of school for a while. It has been a good amount of time, but it hasn’t even been 2 years yet, and I have not gone without money. I think what probably threw me was the expectation that degrees from more than good programs, an above 3.0 GPA, foreign language skills, work experience, a book, and some decent networking would have led to a full-time job by now, and having to live at home or be homeless. I’m glad the living at home is done with. Plan C/D is unemployment insurance, and I can actually give people decent advice on how to “handle” that process. So I can get what I need by doing part-time, investing some of what I earn, and going back to school if the job market is a bust yet again. I am actually moving to Florida which is where I need to be to work on my languages. I want to be in a place where people look at you sideways because you don’t know Spanish and not because you actually know it well. And I do think about the loans, and other people think about the loans, but I’m convinced that no one owes more than me, and actually, putting my undervalued intelligence to good use, there are completely legal ways around that. So right now, I’ll just coast and be. I’m off the depressants so I have to be more mindful of my highs and lows, and I have what I need. It’s not ideal, but it could be worse, and it has been worse.