Friday, April 26, 2013

The Week of Doubt

The light at the end of my tunnel is the headlight of a 6,000 horsepower train engine bearing down on me at over 200 mph.
"the oncoming train" by Beth Jusino CC By-NC 2.0

I could wait a couple of weeks or months to discuss the challenges that I've faced this week, but I really wanted to capture my feelings as I'm feeling them for three reasons:
  1. To gain some perspective on the situation.
  2. To allow myself to feel what I'm feeling, release it, and move on.
  3. To show that I do have moments of doubt and that I don't always feel confident about my decisions.

We're Moving!

Currently Mike (my partner) and I are living in the upstairs apartment of his brother's home. We agreed to help pay the utilities on the house in exchange for having a roof over our heads and internet access while I attended college. We all agreed that I should search for positions in my field of study, HR, or related fields to prevent my resume from becoming even more cluttered with irrelevant jobs. If I was unable to find a position in my field of study, or a related field, Mike and I were welcome to stay until after I had completed college. Mike and I opened a savings account and developed Plans B, C, and D in the event that Plan A didn't work out.

Three boxes stacked in a pyramid
"Three Boxes #1" by z287marc CC By 2.0
Rather than go off on a boring tirade of the details, I'll just say that it's become clear that Mike's family didn't fully comprehend the commitment that they had made, and Mike and I need to move out.

There are many positive things associated with this move:
  • The possibility of central heat and air
  • 24/7 access to a refrigerator
  • The ability to cook food on a stove rather than an electric skillet and microwave
  • Privacy
There are also some negative aspects:
  • We bought a car a few months ago
  • I'm still unemployed
  • Plans B and C are no longer options
  • While Plan D is still an option, it would require us to give up the car, and deal with the consequences of giving up the car
All of this means that it was time for me to implement Plan E.

Plan E: Employment by Any Means

I created Plan E without telling anyone about it, and hoped that it wouldn't have to be implemented. Plan E is the plan to search for jobs in areas that are unrelated to my field of study, and that I have experience in. In short, I am going against all of the advice that I've received during my college career, and looking for a paycheck.
Jobs header for help wanted section in the newspaper
"Jobs Help Wanted" by photologue_np CC by 2.0
About six months ago, I registered with a local staffing agency's "clerical office" in the hopes of being placed in a HR-related position so that I would have some experience in the field upon graduating from college. At the time I was told that my keystrokes-per-hour (KPH) for numeric data entry disqualified me from being placed in a clerical position through the agency. I went home that day, found a website that taught numeric data entry, worked to improve my (KPH), kept the agency updated on my progress, and asked to re-take the clerical tests.

I was hopeful; my KPH was up to the goal that the staffing agency had set for me, and I was excited to re-take all of the tests. When I called the agency to get my test results, I was told that my new-and-improved KPH was lower than their standards because their standards had increased by 1,000 KPH and that the agency would have a hard time finding an office to place me in; however, I was told that the agency would try to find an assignment for me, and that I would be called in to the office to fill out paperwork once the agency had found an assignment.

I was pretty discouraged and upset at that time, but I decided to register with the staffing agency's light industrial office because Mike and I need the second income, and I didn't want to wait for several more weeks or months for the clerical office to place me.

Assembly line workers working in a Tillamook cheese factory in Oregon
"Cheese Factory" by James Yu CC By-NA-SA 2.0

The first light industrial associate I met was quite helpful. She advised me that it was a good thing that I had come in to fill out the paperwork because neither the clerical nor the light industrial offices could place me until after it was filled out.

As I was filling out my paperwork, the associate shared an insight with me, "Even though you don't qualify for HR, our clerical office should be able to find an assignment for you." I gritted my teeth, smiled, thanked her, related what the clerical office had told me, and told her that I was there because I needed the work; all the while pretending that I didn't notice the absence of the Missouri minimum wage poster, which is supposed to be posted in a conspicuous place since the state's minimum wage is higher than the U.S. minimum wage. (I think I've seen "attention to detail" listed on several HR-related job descriptions, but I may be mistaken)

The next associate I met conducted an interview (I'm using the term loosely), and seemed bored with the whole process. I might have agreed with this sentiment if I had not just received a wealth of information from the first associate. She asked me questions about my likes and dislikes on jobs, if I had transportation, if I had steel toe boots, and then advised me to call in twice a week to let the agency know of my availability.

Dirty sink and counter in a public restroom
"Public Toilet" by I See Modern Britain CC BY 2.0

I came home, took my final exam, and I am now looking forward to spending my spring break cleaning the apartment and pestering the staffing agency while my younger, "traditional" counterparts are most likely at a party hosted by MTV in some exotic location.

Is It For Nothing?

I feel betrayed and hurt by Mike's family because they committed to something and didn't follow through. I am angry at Mike's family because by helping them, we killed our Plans B and C, and we are paying for it now while they act like it was our idea to move out. I feel like all of the time, effort, and money we invested in the place we live now was for nothing.

I am angry and frustrated with the staffing agency's clerical office because the associates had no intention of finding me a placement, and they failed to communicate this fact to me. I improved my KPH and called them twice a week for several months, discussed the steps I was taking to improve my KPH with them, and let the office know of my progress; only to find out a few months later that they weren't looking to place me with any clients. Really, what was the point?

I've been attending college for about three years to earn my business degree with a focus in HR, have an overall 3.9 GPA, and can boast Dean's List honors for every single semester that I've attended college; however, I'm not "qualified" to work in HR, not even to work as an HR clerk. If that's the case, then I've been working on a very expensive hobby that may end up ruining Mike and I financially.

Final Thoughts

I know I'll rally; this isn't the first time I've had doubts, and it won't be the last time. I'll refuse to engage in the hateful, passive-aggressive, and petty actions that I feel like taking because they are unethical and unhelpful. Maybe someday I'll write an article about how I managed to overcome these challenges, and maybe it will inspire someone who feels the same way that I feel right now; however, today's not that day. For now, I'm going to figure out how I am going to move myself off of the tracks so that the 6,000 horsepower train engine bearing down on me doesn't run me over.

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