Be careful what you work for

Is it really already September? All signs point to obviously.

Just two months ago I was fed-up with the distress of being unemployed in D.C. — a city that demands a generous monthly income for even basic needs, let alone rent, and I started writing about it. But I didn’t write very much. I didn’t have time.

As of this past week, I now have three jobs. And I’m completely stressed out. I feel hypocritical complaining about it, and I try to remind myself on a daily basis that I’d rather this level of hysteria than the paranoia of immediate post-grad-graduation … but there’s no way that working 65 hours a week while getting around to 3 different jobs (sometimes all in the same day) can be sustainable long-term, right?

Here’s the breakdown:

When I was desperate enough, I went back to my pre-grad school job of being a barista. Not even a shift supervisor, which is what I had been when I quit the first time. I wanted to start from scratch because I wanted to give myself time to adjust to a new team and a new store while getting back into the swing of things. Logical? Yes; Stupid? Yes. What an underestimation of my own capabilities (once again, my mother was right). Now, not only am I stuck in a job that I’m overqualified for on multiple levels, getting paid an embarrassing and abysmal hourly rate, I’m stuck taking direction from superiors who baffle me as to how they have earned their titles.  But the company offers great benefits, and the manager is working to overhaul the store’s operation, which it seems involves me being promoted rather soon. Fantastic. I look forward to it.

On the other hand, I dread it. I have an internship that I LOVE, and it’s EXACTLY what I want to be doing when I’m all grown up. When I was first offered the position I thought “this is why I’m back as a barista … I’m supposed to do that so I can have a flexible schedule and also have this internship, because this is going to get me places.” I still believe that, but I’m also starting to believe that maybe I’m a more valuable work commodity than I first anticipated. Within a week of starting the media relations internship, a team member in charge of the editorial affiliate site offered me a part-time editorial assistant gig — PAID (and a whole lot more than my barista take). I jumped on it, obviously, because that is also right up my alley of not only what I’m good at, but what I like to do.

So now, do I scale back my hours at the coffee house and just say “forget the benefits, I’ll get a real job soon enough” (I need to average 24/wk to be eligible for benefits), and risk giving up the promotion because of limited availability, but in turn keep some sanity in my life? Or, do I try to keep working the 65 hours-a-week to satisfy requirements for all three positions, keep my benefits and save some $ for the holidays?

People tell me I’m young and I can handle it … but at what cost? Do we really need another young person on the path to craziness???


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3 comments

  1. Someone Who Knows · · Reply

    Of course the conversation would be a different one, w/less worry, if you had a roommate who actually helped pay rent and living expenses. The hard part about being a grown-up is having to make those unenviable, tough decisions. Here’s the thing, you’ll be successful whatever you decide because you’re that talented girl.

  2. Machiatto88 · · Reply

    Well, unlike the previous blogger, I didn’t miscontrue your ambition with your being boggled with money problems. I think that you are pretty tough on yourself and this is probably a large contributing factor to your success. Whether or not your roommate contributes has nothing to do with your delimma. I think your question was what to do about your three jobs. I’d say leave the coffee shop. Go for the editorial position since it already pays more than the Barista gig so you wouldn’t really be losing anything. Good employers will see what they have in you and you will be rewarded. This position is in your field and will only add to your portfolio. Continue to work smart at your internship. You are really going places and you are one of my favorite young people. Go get’em girl!

  3. I decided to be brave today and I told my boss about what’s going on (I really dread those conversations because I don’t like feeling like I might be letting someone down — my old boss had a habit of telling me I was disappointing him when I needed to change my schedule for school). To my elation he said he is willing to be as flexible as I need in order to keep me on staff 🙂 That means I can get a schedule of just three closing shifts/wk and a few hours on a Saturday to average out my 20hrs and still be promoted to a shift. Things are looking up!!! Prayer is wonderful.

    As for your comments (thanks, by the way, I always appreciate feedback), I can see where both of you are coming from. On the one hand, yea, my decision would be easier if I had fewer (and cheaper) financial commitments. Even though my roommate is helping out as much as possible, we’re both struggling in that area (who isn’t?), which makes it harder to up and quit a job just because it’s not my favorite right now. Completely leaving the coffee job isn’t an option right now, strictly for financial reasons. Cutting back hours and losing benefits is not optimal, but possible.

    I guess for now I’m just going to keep tweaking my schedule and options until I can find a good balance. And who knows, maybe by the time my bday comes around (Jan 30) I’ll have a new job in my chosen career and actually be able to afford my own bday dinner for once 🙂 A girl’s gotta dream …

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