Emily Just Quits Jobs She Doesn't Like - Live Like a Mensch
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Emily Just Quits Jobs She Doesn't Like

I'm a bit of a career butterfly. After only 11+ years in the job market post-college, I have held the following jobs:

  • Giant Eagle bakery employee (position held for two days--I couldn't handle the hours from 12:30-9:30 am because I generally turn into a pumpkin as of 9:30 pm. I don't know what I was thinking with this one)
  • Barnes & Noble bookseller (position held off and on for four years)
  • Administrative Assistant for Graeter's Ice Cream of Columbus (position held for 9 months, during which time it became abundantly clear that I am not cut out for office work)
  • AmeriCorps Volunteer working in the art room of a Boys & Girls Club (position held for 9 months because the volunteer program [which did pay a teeny little bit but required additional employment at B&N] folded due to lack of funding)
  • Art Director at the Boys & Girls Club (position held for about a year, until I was promoted, which helped me to understand that I generally would prefer not to be promoted)
  • Program Director at the Boys & Girls Club (position held for about six months, at which point I decided to go back to school to become an English teacher)
  • High school English teacher (position held continuously for four years, which means it is officially the longest running gig I've ever held, and had we not moved to Lafayette when I was seven months pregnant with LO, I likely would still be teaching)
  • Freelance blogger (position held a little over two years)

Back in 2001, when I first took that disastrous bakery job and quickly left it, many of my friends were having similar employment woes. My dear friend Erika wanted to quit a similar McJob that was taking so much out of her that she was having trouble finding time to look for more suitable employment. Her parents were concerned about Erika throwing away even the pittance she was earning there and tried to dissuade her. "But Emily just quits jobs she doesn't like!" she replied. (I'm not sure if that line of reasoning actually convinced her parents, but she did indeed quit that job fairly quickly.)

Erika's characterization of my career stamina has been a bit of a running joke in my family. Yes, I quit my first post-college job after two days. (In point of fact, I actually arrived to my first day of work 20 minutes early. I was a half hour late my second day. I called in sick [although it would have been more honest to call in tired] on my third day, and quit on day four. Seriously, considering the fact that I laid down for a nap on my friend Ike's driveway at 3:00 in the morning on the night of my senior prom because I simply couldn't keep my eyes open another moment, I have no idea where I got the idea that I could handle an overnight shift).

In addition, I left my reasonably well-paid administrative assistant job to go back to shilling books for $8.25/hour.

Finally, I applied for a promotion with the Boys & Girls Club that greatly increased my salary, only to leave after six months to become an impoverished grad student.

There's really no other way to put it: I really do just quit jobs I don't like.

I've actually been extraordinarily lucky. My parents have always been around to help me when my finances and my career ideals didn't meet. I've also had squirrel-like tendencies from birth, so I always used steady employment as an opportunity for me to build another cushion against my next resignation letter. And after all this time, I finally found not one, but two careers that I was well-suited for--teaching and blogging.

It's a little odd to look back on my oddly peripatetic career path. On the one hand, I do feel as though my employment history is a little embarrassing. In the same amount of time that I wracked up 8 different modes of employment, J has had (count them) TWO jobs. Both of them real careers that draw on his college degree and that offer things like 401(k) matching and health benefits.

On the other hand, I am glad that I have had so many opportunities to find what kind of work I can do best and will make me feel fulfilled. Having had so many different employment experiences--rather than heading straight into a career post-college--helped me to understand that some of the issues my co-workers thought were just local problems were in fact something you'd find in any employment. I know that much of what anyone might not like about any particular job are likely things most people just won't enjoy about working.

So, despite my non-linear employment/career history, I'm not ashamed of just quitting jobs that I don't like. It's not necessarily a method of career planning that I would recommend to others (and here's hoping LO takes after his father more than me in this regard). But, it's worked for me. The last six and a half years have shown me that I'm capable of sustaining a job long term.

It just took the better part of a decade for me to get there.

Published Jan 22 2013, 10:42 AM by Emily Guy Birken
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frugal_fun said:

The important thing is you found jobs you liked.  :) It's great if you know what you want to do, but I suspect the rest of us need to do the trial and error thing.

January 22, 2013 5:52 PM

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