Giving Up

I’m trying to figure out, when would be a good time to throw in the towel. Especially where I am now where I was hoping to be the diamond in the rough because most people don’t leave, employers seem to have low expectations, and there’s chivalry. Unfortunately, with not being from here, I get the resistance to outsiders, low expectations means micromanaging, and chivalry also leads to sexism and stupid comments like you’re not afraid to drive on the highway!? Or, you play basketball!?

I think September 2013 was when I stopped applying to full-time jobs all together. By the end of the year, I was confirmed to start an MSc program in the summer, but that was just a back up plan to get me to the city I wanted to live in. I wasn’t going to get a private loan, so I accepted the federal loan. I took a big risk. I also took a big risk on the stock market/Netflix, and that paid off, but my risk in Brazil is starting to prove less lucrative…

When I moved to my dream city, I don’t think I applied to many places for full time work. This was around May/June 2014. I can’t, physically or mentally, apply to another non-profit in the US. Now they want years of experience working in a developing country. I’m from the inner-city, I can easily go find roughness and poverty close to home. And I’ve heard horror stories about the Peace Corps, not to mention the debt that I have, why go abroad to get sexually harassed when I get sexually harassed here, but have laws that I could stand on? I really can’t work for people, like my last company, who pull requirements out of their asses.

So plan C, is being a temp worker. I’ve done this before. At least I get paid more than minimum wage. My only issue is that I’m not learning marketable skills, I’m working in a role that has no career advancement/development, I’m working for people I should be working alongside (if I wanted to work in a slow-paced environment were people spend a lot of their time gossiping and micromanaging, sticking to the status quo, and paying people to do nothing – or in my case  blog and submit job applications to other people… don’t know what I would’ve done without a computer), I’m being micomanaged, and I have to push myself to not push myself. From my last experience I have learned that in some environments, even if they may say otherwise, their not about improvement. They like the status quo. The like putting forth minimum effort, or just enough of what is needed to get status, pass the buck, or throw someone under the bus. I’m learning to keep my head down and do what is told, and nothing more, pretend that I don’t have a mind of my own. They like that.

So, I have applied to full-time jobs here, and elsewhere. I’m feeling that if I want what I had, I might have to go to cities that are actually known for being more intellectual, even though I did not want to give into that stereotype. I might even have to move back to live with my parents, and that pious pastor can be right: that a woman’s place is in the home and with her parents until she gets married. My independence was rebelliousness that was beat out of me.

The truth is I can’t temp forever.. Well maybe I could, but my bills would never get paid. I certainly can’t apply to any full-time positions in this field because I would have to discard my standard resume and either omit my college degree or lie about it if they’re looking for one.

It’s hard to think that I’m where I would be had I not even graduated from high school, and being where I am and my image, people will and do think that I did not graduate high school. For my pride and their pride (that’s what it is), it is best for them to think that. My supervisor knows that I have a MA, but I don’t believe from where, and if she asks, which I doubt she will, I will have to lie. The woman from the temp agency has seen my degrees, but I don’t think she understands the weight that they carry (in some places) and the cost, because all she had to say was that because I moved around a lot, it would be harder for people to hire me full-time. Where I’m from, people say that attending school in different areas and visiting different areas are in asset, so maybe that is another sign that I might need to leave this city and state…

I had an interview and was asked about my career goals. Honestly, I don’t know what they are. I had said research, writing, and using my languages in the interview, because I was being honest, but I wish I would’ve said it better because the last two are not relevant to that position. I could see myself in that role though and definitely growing within the company, if the company is what they claim to be… At this point, I really just want to be financial stable/secure, and be able to travel. I have not even been fully in the rate race, but I’m already tired of its foolishness. Before college, I thought I was going to law school. I took the LSAT once, it was embarrassing. I bought another prep book yesterday, to use at work while I do nothing and learn nothing, so we’ll see where this goes. In high school I interned at a law firm. I spent a lot of time reading, but when I did something, it was worthwhile. I even got a change to network. I was proactive and drafted a demand letter, and was praised for it. I’m not looking for praise, and I know I make mistakes, I guess I’m just looking for constructive feedback and skill/knowledge development.

Just a moment ago, one of the people in the office came by to see if I had been hired. They’re looking for a permanent person. I told her no, but they are looking for a permanent person. The other temp that was here was only looking for part time and she mentioned the opening and was excited about the $30K. Any money is good, but I would have to move out of my apartment if I took that, and then I might as well go back to my parents home. I would rather go back to my parents’ home, especially since they’re in a city where I could get paid more doing the same thing. I’ve told people no before, but I doubt they will be asking. I have showed up late. I have a problem with that here, yes. It usually happens when I am bored or depressed. I don’t understand why I have to show up so early to do absolutely nothing. It seems to be an image thing. This position is about image. Important people have Administrative Assistants (Secretaries) to schedule meetings for them when they could just use the scheduling assistant in outlook. Process improvement.

I also really don’t like people asking me for where stuff is. That’s my job now, but I have not been here long, and I do not plan on staying. I also did not do what I did to be asked anything other than about things related to translations, political movements, economic development, social changes, or other concepts that require indepth and occassional abstract discussion. To order supplies you go online and place an order, to find where people sit, you look on your computer in the address book…

I admire people who do this because it requires a lot of patience. I really don’t want to do this. It’s exhausting agreeing with everyone everyday, being idle, and not doing anything that requires some form of research.

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Transitions Too

First off, let me give my sincerest apologies for the typos. I’ve just been free writing these posts and hoping that the words come together in a cohesive organized fashion.

So I started my new job in July. But, before I get to my first day, when I received the intial offer, based on conversations I had had with the recruiter, I thought I was going to get a signing bonus, and that helped me deal with the fact that I felt I was being underpaid by $10K. I was also hoping to start in June. Well once I got the offer with no bonus, I was distraught. I still had a lot of moving expenses to cover, so I was hoping that this offer would get me over that hurdle. I thought about the offer and realized I had no choice to accept, and resigned to be grateful for a salary that was above average for the area, but low for what I could be offered elsewhere. I was sincerely grateful, but there was just some miscommunication.

I was working in collections. Past tense, yes, as you can tell, I am no longer there. I was fine with working in collections. I put my budget together and looked forward to the end of the year when I would recover from the move. The people I worked alongside with seemed nice, the office was multilingual (the majority owners of the company are also Latin American), and the company is recognized worldwide. I put aside the fact that their product depends on exploiting the inability of poor people to afford more healthy lifestyle choices. (I would occassionally buy the product, but I was trying to actually stay away from it completely.)

The company is not cheap or frugal, they are stingy. They provided no supplies;  you would just take what someone left. That’s was not a problem. I was excited about working together as a team to meet our MBOs and get that end of the year bonus. I am very competitive and I strive to be first. Especially as the only female in that role, I was going to be first. However, first, I took a step back and observed. A shadowed a veteran in the position as I waited for IT to gicve me the access I needed. It took them a month. They didn’t respond to emails, those that said they would assist did not respond to emails. The culture was pretty much unless you are important within the company what you have to say does not matter, especially if you are new and a female. To those essentially not from the Northeast, I can be brasive. I felt that I was being hustled too, also part of the company culture, and I felt that I had been lied to about the “teamwork” at the company. They guy I was shadowing also advised that it was best to keep my head down, I should have listened – but I really couldn’t, and that I should be more assertive. I’m not one to pretend I know something when I don’t. I ask questions. Asking questions and understanding the full process was frowned upon (especially since very few people knew what the process, policies, and procedures were). I was trying to collect money from one client and she was asking about a trace number. I tried to but her in touch with AR, asking them to supply the information that she needed because that was not my area and I had no idea what she was talking about. There was silence on the other end. Eventually the women in AR said she did not respond because she did not understand… Ok.

The guy I was shadowing also suggested I push back a little more. In retrospect, I don’t know whether he was being helpful or whether it was a ploy to get me let go. But that’s the enivronment that company fosters, one where you cannot trust your team, you have to look over your shoulder, and you make sure you are not the last one holding the ball. I was warned by people when I had applied to the company last year, but I figured it could never hurt to try, especially since there are very few worlwide companies based in my “dream” city (not sure if I want to be here anymore). There were no good things said before I got there or when I was there. It was about the money, and there was soooo much gossiping going on. That was really foreign to me.

But so, I took the reigns. First I attended a quarterly meeting, found out a family member had passed, and then I decided that the slowness and confusion at the office needed to end, and I was going to focus on getting that bonus. I don’t miss deadlines. (I might have missed some.) But I didn’t go to the schools that I went to, and learn the languages that I did while missing deadlines and not being results driven, one of the company’s mantras. I get results. I was going to have the highest collection numbers, and all my accounts were going to be reconciled by the end of the year, because I could do that. Our collections goal was 95%, but I could go past that. After the quarterly meeting I saw how much the 1st place field performer got, and I wanted that. I needed that.

I put the experience aside after how long it took for me to get the tools I needed to do my job. For being so results driven, the company sure did not do much to provide me with the tools to do my job and not just sit there twittling my thumbs. One of my colleague’s said they like to just throw you in there to see how you do. I had given IT space, but several requests went in for the same thing, and the first ones were even from the higher ups. They were supposed to clone another ID, which they had done in the past, but they weren’t able to do it now for whatever reason, and they did not communicate that. They did not say they needed more information, they ignored it. Then once the ticket was assigned, they only addressed one request. I did say thank you along they way as I got help, but I realized I needed to have a more heavy-hand and really push them for quality and follow-through. They just wanted the ticket out of their queue. Another time, they said they were waiting for approval. The first two times, IT gave me the names of whom I could follow up with. One of them was one of my supervisors (reading and responding to emails was not something of value there), and the other was someone who had an away message on and instructed the receiver of that email to contact someone else for immediate needs! Did IT acknowledge that email, no! It just sat in purgatory…

I got quicker results when I was more direct, which came as I got a better understanding of the process with no help from my boss who was in the field and gave no feedback. This was the trial period, so maybe it was normal to not provide feedback? I had contracting positions that were longer and with more respected companies and they provided feedback: constructive criticism, and praise. Most of what my boss said was why don’t you do it like the other guy, this is not what I got before, as the people there. So I spent more time communicating with AR and with people at the headquarters, because when I pushed them, I got answers. My vibe from my boss was that he just wanted to be left alone and wished I was a guy, particularly that other guy. I sensed a lot of whining, and it appeared that for being a mostly male environment, a lot of them needed to grow a pair. (Pardon my French).

Then the rest of the field team. They said let them know if I needed them to follow up with the franchisees in the field. I did, and conversations were spotty. It was mostly email, again the emails that no one really reads. As the merger approached, I guess that was when the conversations were less. Right before then I wanted to quit and regretted not having continued to submit applications in June as I waited for my July start date.. I was grateful to be done with the job application process, or so I thought…

So most of the franchisees were cool. This one lady was fussing, literally whining about how it had been two weeks since she got a response. It had been less than a week, I was on bereavement, and she conveniently omitted my response emails from her chain with her whining. She was one of those women whose husbands allow them to play around with the business although they lack common sense, skill, and the aptitde to acquire those things. I have nothing against rich people, the elite, etc. The ones that I know who have more clout than that lady and are much more respectable. So the field guy who works with her followed up with me, which I appreciated. He wasn’t cc’d on all the emails, so I sent them to him and explained that she was lying about the response time and new it. I took his advice and tried to cc them on the emails going forward. As some of them sat on documents I was told to collect, I wasn’t cc’d though… Also this one field guy let everyone else call him Bill, but for me I had to address him by William… He was cordial to me for the most part though, except this time when we were dealing with a difficult franchisee and he wanted me to get the policy so we could be clear and present a unified front so his credibility wouldn’t be messed up. No one cared about my credibility as I “followed up” (those annoying words that everyone used without being specific and being sure that they were talking to the right person), and I should have been more concerned. BILL was there before I was, so he should’ve already known the policy. And the way he was talking to me was as if I was his assistant. Even when I was let go I held my tongue, but with my experiences and connections, I really could have put him in his place…

I would contact franchisees about documents we needed and they would say they already turned them in and clearly highlighted the organizational and communication issues we were having. This one woman did not double check the status of the documents that she would email to everyone and say were pending… I met with her though and we got some clarity and I felt better about working for her. Right at the end of August I knew the process better than most people, and that was an issue.

July numbers were 99.1. My boss said he was surpised they were that high because he thought it was going to be impacted by something else. In August July numbers went to 98.1. AR applied open balances incorrectly, didn’t tell me they were applied at the end of the month, and didn’t work to get them paid because the collection numbers aren’t within their scope. Yes, it’s not within their scope, but they need to act with more discretion because of the impact on the company, and the so-called “team”. My boss was not aware of anything that was going on, and I don’t really think he cared much anyways. I was going to find the problem and fix it, which I did and now those jerks are benefitting from my hard work.

I worked early mornings and in the evenings. All they were concerned about was that they did not see me at my desk at 9:30am, when I was told I could work from home. The office was chaotic and unorganized. People would just find people to do things, even if they were the wrong people, and then I felt that I was intentionally being sabatoged, so I worked from home more to get the work done and get that bonus.

I worked so hard to correct what had impacted the July numbers, and got it fixed. It was impacting August numbers too. Everyone’s August numbers were low at the middle of the month. At the end of the month, there was still one guy with low August numbers, but mine were the highes at 99.8%. I was told a deadline. One franchisee had an Aug 29th deadline, and he represented the majority of my account. I was told to “follow-up”. I said it wasn’t due yet, so what should I do? I was handling it, but it seemed that they wanted something else, and I was trying to figure out if the deadline had changed or if the policy dictated something otherwise. They probably didn’t get this, because their minds probably resorted to she needs extra support. The only thing I needed was for people to shut up, calm down, and do things right the first damn time.

The numbers for all the regions were also affected in August because of one of our larger franchisees, in my area, but mananged by the guy who was formerly in my role. I don’t think the field team knew that, and I think they blamed me. The guy said he was going to handle it, and he did. In the end, by the deadline, all the numbers were there. In the middle of August, I felt that I was being forced out. I was out for bereavement and I had some people ask me if I was on vacation. I went to lunch with some people and there was some gossip, which surprised me, so I have no doubt that people gossiped about me. They did it in high school. I could have announced the family loss, but I didn’t want to talk about it because it was personal, and because I didn’t know the people at work well enough. Maybe deep down inside I also wanted to see what would happen, to see if people actually knew their own policy. My boss had actually said “take all the time that you need”. I didn’t take that literally, but I was also wondering why he would say that if it wasn’t true. I’m more of a literal person, and at all the other places I have worked at in my field there was more of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, and also integrity. I was supposed to edit some slides too at some point, and it said for field team, since I wasn’t on the field team, I didn’t work on that. I wasn’t trying to step on anyone’s toes, and I had other things I could be working on.

So with the merger, there were talks of layoffs. It had happened before. I was warned before getting there, and once there. I had a sixth sense about this. It was creepy. I was determined to be perfect, or at least be number one by the end of August. I worked long hours, mostly from home, and I think had I not been at home, they would have let me go sooner. First, I had called my boss to check in, he didn’t answer. He wasn’t available the previous week either, so I was a bit suspicious to be honest. I was told that the numbers were the lowest they had ever been, that people complained about my attendance, and that the franchisses complained. I was calm, but I asked about the numbers and pointed out that they were 99.8%. My boss repeated that the numbers were the lowest they had ever been in the last 15 months. He sounded like a broken record. My mother who has a MBA and worked for a more profitable company said that with mergers, companies have to be careful with how they let people go. But from that conversation, I sensed the BS. Then the HR person said it’s a results-driven place. I looked at her with a blank face and I also said I guess that I could be honest about everyone telling me not to work there since I was already out the door. All I was focused on was the results, and I ignored the brown-nosing. As I wanted to leave anyway, at least this way I was still getting my vacation time. They almost lef me with the bill on the corporate card though, and didn’t let me send in the death certificate to waive at least the fligh change fee.

That was a learning experience. It was my first hostile work environment. Beyond that though, in matrix organizations (I actively avoid them now), I should be more proactive in communicating with my boss, especially, and any other field members. I need to kind of brag/say what I have been doing each step of the way with regards to what they have asked of me. And also, its really not good to be desparate for any job, having options is better. I should develop a poker face, and unfortunately also talk more about my credentials, especially in places like this when more respect and response is given to those with that status. I hate the last one though, and hate environments like that. Everyone has a job to do, so everyone should be responsive, and not intimidated. Like my last boss longed for his all guy team, I now long for being around people who don’t micromanage, are more intellectual, are team players, are truly resuls-oriented, are concerned about adequate training, and are not intimidated. I had all that a companies/organizations that were more impressive than the last one I was at, and in areas that were less superficial and known for having workers who are about providing quality work while meeting tight deadlines.

Thankfully that this is but one spec out of all the places that I have worked, which if I were to be graded for all the jobs I’ve had would still put me in the high 90s, at a 99.8% perhaps… It would be so great to have stayed at number 1 for August, and have a chance to show my smug look.