Workplace Woes

Since I have been working I have been through it, emotionally, mentally and physically. I must admit, I do not enjoy what I do, but I think it is because I had such high expectations of myself when I was in school. I really expected to be working in the field of communications, enjoying learning and growing into the great communicator that I want to be.

So when I started as a medical research program assistant, I was floored. It wasn’t my gifting. It wasn’t what I was passionate about. It wasn’t anything I was interested in, in fact, it made me very sleepy just thinking about it. I didn’t know what to do with all of these emotions. I was disappointed in myself. I figured that college must have been a waste of time because here I am working in a JOB and not starting a career.

I sulked and I was angry and my body ached because it was used to getting a good nap in everyday. I became frustrated with my sons because they were still as eager to play as ever and I didn’t have the energy to comply.

I would talk to my Pastor, talk to my friends but I still couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. My Pastor said since I had a family, I couldn’t be selfish and quit. My sons needed me working to provide for them and any opportunity I had to work, I couldn’t pass up. Not like the single folks I know. Most everyone quit their first jobs out of college because they did not like it. I can’t quit.

I really let the work situation get to me. I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t motivated. I wasn’t a good employee. I wasn’t the type of employee I would want working in my company. I did the bare minimum, never asking a question about anything they did because I didn’t care. The whole set-up bored me and with all the strict guidelines and eagle-eyed co-workers who snitched, I felt like I was in prison for 8 hours a day.

And then came the light. I got that good word from my Pastor about intensifying my quality time with God. I tried it and it worked. I wasn’t miserable anymore. I still didn’t like my job, but at least I didn’t dread going there.

My only problem was, I finished my work too quickly. I couldn’t help it. I wanted that mess to be over as soon as possible. I was used to being able to do what I needed to do. As k if there was anything else that needed to be done, then working on my own projects. Not here.

I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with myself after I finished my work. I couldn’t chat. I couldn’t email. I couldn’t make any personal calls. What was I supposed to do? And when my director called me into his office and told me that he didn’t want me to leave the campus for lunch anymore, that I couldn’t go home for lunch, I almost died. That was my one time to get away from that place.

I sucked it up and was obedient. I just sat in my car during lunch and listened to music.

All this time I wondered what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I find a job that I enjoyed? I didn’t even want a good paying job. I just wanted a job that interested me. And I thought that something was wrong with me because everyone kept telling me, “You should be grateful, some people don’t even have a job. And you’re making good money.”

I felt so ashamed. I felt so horrible for not being more grateful. I figured that God was certainly not proud of me.

When a friend of mine admitted she was in a similar situation, I called up my old highschool mentor Traci for some workplace advice. Traci is a global marketing research coordinator for Proctor and Gamble at their headquarters in Cincinnatti. She and I met when I was 16 years old. She was my supervisor at a black Engineering firm in Miami. I was a receptionist and this was my very first job. I don’t really remember what she did, but I knew that was her first job out of college.

When she hired me, I immediately liked her. We became friends of sort. I considered her to be the big sister I never had and we would hang out all of the time. Even when she moved back to her hometown of Cincinnati, I would visit her and keep in touch.

Traci encouraged me and gave me some tips on how to make the most of your time at work. When I told her that I was bored, she said, “Ofcourse you’re bored. You’re smarter than that. You aren’t being challenged. But you have to challenge yourself. If they give you some task to do and it takes you five minutes, do it in ten minutes, take your time. And when you’re done, ask yourself, what could make this better? Do something extra to every task they give you to improve it. This shows initiative.”

She also told me, “If you’re ever sitting there bored, without a clue what to do. Make something up! Find a form and try to recreate it using the different publishing programs on your computer. If you have programs that you don’t know, play around with them until you learn them. And ALWAYS keep a list of questions about the company/your project/the business handy to ask your supervisor if you ever feel like someone is going to ask what you are up to. It shows that you are interested and you want to learn more, even if you don’t.”

As far as dealing with people in the workplace, Traci says, “They all have gray faces. If I allow them to be in color then I risk letting their many erratic emotions affect me. As long as you perform, they will never get rid of you. Look at me. I started at P&G in some little administrative position. I just wanted a little gig so that I could plan my wedding and not be pressured by work. A year later, I was about to quit and they promoted me because they liked how I worked. The year after that I was bored by my new position and I was about to leave and they promoted me again. I’ve gone through 4 bands/levels and its only been 6 years. If you perform beyond their expectations, then they will be impressed.”

I’m actually starting to get excited because I remember that there is a MS Publishing Program on my computer at work that I drooled over when I saw it. It wasn’t a part of my job description so I never used it before. So today at work, I opened that bad boy up and fell in love.

This is what I went to school for!

I spent all day creating this newsletter called ‘The Assistant.’ I wrote stories about all of the things that I do as a program assistant. It’s actually written for the next person who will take this job when I leave. He, he… Ain’t I slick? I wrote copy, found images, and designed the whole thing. It has 8 stories, graphics and it is 4 pages long. I realized that this is what I would love to be doing.

I would love to be working in communications or media relations. Writing stories, creating newsletters, making presentations, publishing and talking to people.

But until that dream job comes along, I have to make sure that I do a little better on my job. Pray a little harder. Improve my attitude, because my job experience is really what I make it.

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