Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Job Change - Written By Lance

When I was in college, I worked at Wal-Mart and hated it. The only thing that got me through it was a small handful of coworkers who were remarkable people. Beyond that, I hated everything about that job. That experience made me realize just how valuable an education is, because it would be the means of my escaping Wal-Mart and moving onto something better. That opportunity came in the form of DI.

When I started working at the DI, I thought it was great. While there were rules and policies, there was also the flexibility to do what I wanted to do. My co-workers seemed to get along, and everything seemed to go pretty well. I felt respected by my managers and valued as a contributing member. I really enjoyed helping people move on to bettering their lives.

After I had been there about three months, I got a new store manager. He seemed to care and want to help. He helped me get a better handle on the area that I was in. After a little over a month of being there, he shuffled everyone around to different areas, which is good (being stuck in the same area for too long can be a very bad thing, as we'll see later.) I was transferred from inside to the dock area. And the dock wasn't bad. I had a decent crew, and we got done everything that we needed to.

Over time, I started to notice a little trend. My area would be understaffed, and despite my numerous pleas to get more associates, I was told that we just didn't have anyone that could physically do it. I believed it only until I saw that other areas were getting all the people that could easily physically handle it. When I would ask why that was, I would be told that the other areas just needed it more. I would also see that other job coaches were given more and more opportunities to show their versatility and skill, and I was being told over and over to not worry about anything outside of my area (no matter how much it effected my area.) Job coaches would be rotated again and again, and I would be told that I was going to stay outside in the elements and not be given the opportunity to do something new and different ("You're just too valuable to us where you're at" is the biggest piece of BS out there.) Three times, I was passed up in the rotations, without a good reason.

I know that there are lots of people out there that think that working for the Church is a dream come true, and that all that happens all day is scripture reading and singing hymns while you work and meeting general authorities, and that if people complain about things then they themselves are the problems, but I have this sad bit of truth to share: the church is not immune to stupid people in positions of power. I was the victim of one of those situations, and I know that there are other situations out there that are similar. This doesn't effect truthfulness at all, just career happiness.

I started to really despise my job, almost as much as I despised Wal-Mart. Where I had once had the ability to pull associates aside to talk with them, I was now told to stay in my area and not leave it. When I would try to talk with my associates, I would be interrupted with various tasks that were nonessential. When I would need a break, I was told to get back to work. It got to the point that I would go to sleep every night praying that I would be too sick to go to work, and wake up cursing my luck that I was too healthy to justify staying home. I started seeing that the team that I once admired was falling apart while the upper management sat in their office calling friends, or shopped on their iPhones and had Amazon deliver their personal purchases to their workplace, or found various impractical projects to take up their time when they were really needed more elsewhere. I started seeing the rampant abuse of power all around me, and felt guilty for being a part of an organization that seemed to have neither the means nor the desire to hold people accountable for their lack of leadership or results. It started effecting my home life, in bringing about depression and negativity. I started resenting Bobbi for doing the right thing and encouraging me to go and not claim to be sick for a day. I started dreading the weekends because that only meant that the whole cycle was about to start again and find a new way to get worse.

When the depression got to uncomfortably familiar depths, I knew that it was time to act, and get out of the toxic environment that I was in.

I started checking the online classifieds with Bobbi every day, looking for anything that might be a good fit. I refused to quit the DI until I found something else. I wasn't sold on the idea that I had to stay in the field that I studied in college, because I only had my bachelor's degree in it and I knew that I wasn't going to find anything that payed better. I looked into sales jobs, because lots of psychology graduates find their way into sales. Every day we would find a handful that sounded interesting, and would apply. 

One night, I remembered that my best friend from college was at one point trying to get me to work at Enterprise, that company that rents cars. I refused when he first started recruiting me to it, as I thought that it wouldn't be good for me. I remember him telling me about the hours that he worked, and thought that it was too much. But I reached out to him, and found out that they in fact were hiring, and that he had been very successful in it with the same degree that I had. I applied, thinking that I'll still keep my ears open.

The next day I got a call to schedule an interview.

I researched the company, and found that it was actually a really good fit for me. The Enterprise Management Trainee program (which I had applied for) was designed to teach people how to run a business. It is renowned in the business world for producing great management candidates. It is nicknamed "The MBA without the IOU." I found out that lots of employers will seek out people who have completed the Management Trainee program and hire them out of Enterprise and into their own business. I figured that worst case scenario, if I hate it, I can allow myself to be found by another employer after I finish the program. Best case scenario, I can stay in and climb as high as possible.

So far, I have learned that while the hours are long (50+ per week) and the pay starts out lower than I was at at the DI, the long-term future looks much brighter. After I finish the program, I get a significant raise. Within two years, I can reach a higher annual earning than I would have been capped at with DI. Within five years, I can have (almost) normal hours. Already I have noticed that my depression has become significantly better, I don't feel guilty for being employed there, the company takes great efforts to avoid corruption, and I am seeing my own efforts praised and my potential growing. I don't despise getting up early every morning for work any more than I would normally despise getting up early without work, which is a big improvement. I'm also seeing that even though I don't quite spend as much time home as I would like to, I am enjoying the time home even more.

To read about Bobbi's point of view, click here and here.

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