Thanks for reading along. If you’re just joining, you’ll want to check out Part 1. When we left off, it was May 2007 and I was now a jobless college graduate.
The week after graduation, I went on my second interview with a large company. I won’t go into details about the company, but it is NOT my current employer. Thank goodness. The interview was for a technical/documentation writer in the employee training department.
My interview really wowed me, and I had a good feeling about it. It was a large company, I had a few friends who worked there, and it was in the town where my boyfriend (now husband!), Clay, lived. Even though I had to commute to work for awhile, I could hang out with Clay after work and I liked that because our relationship was getting pretty serious.
My good feeling was right, and less than a week later, the company offered me the job. With my experience in tutoring and writing, writing training materials sounded like a good fit; however, I wasn’t too keen on technical writing, as it wasn’t my favorite class in college. I secretly wanted to work in marketing, public relations, or for a newspaper. As a recent grad, I had to take what I could get, and after months of applying and interviewing (I started during my last semester of college). I had no other leads, and I was glad to be employed.
My company had lots of perks. We got many free lunches, almost unlimited free snacks and candy, free stuff with the company logo, and we had fun dress up days and events. We also got tuition reimbursement that let me take classes toward a business degree in the evenings. They even sent me on a business trip- my first time flying on a plane and visiting that state.
I was learning a lot about the industry, lots of new software, and making friends. I worked 8-4:30 every day and went running or hung out with friends after work. Things were good… for about the first seven or eight months.
Then… my job duties multiplied. I had to maintain documentation for 4 clients (our company had 8), the employee newsletter, activities board, and work on training documents. I started out working a little overtime each day, taking shorter lunches, and eating whatever I could find on my way to class after work. Still, with the tuition reimbursement and the perks, it wasn’t so bad. I tried not to complain.
That Spring, the other technical writer went out on maternity leave. Instead of placing someone in my department to help me, I had to absorb her work AS WELL AS a huge onboarding project for another client.
This is when things got rough. I was the lone technical writer at my company, so it was all on me- I had no one to cover for me or help me, and if something went wrong, I was automatically the one to blame. 30 minute lunches soon turned to not eating lunch at all (working without taking a lunch break was a badge of honor– one guy was heavily criticized by his coworkers when he took a 30 minute break to go to McDonald’s).
Putting in overtime turned into working on weekends both in the office and from home. Managers who insisted I hadn’t worked all weekend like I said I had usually told me my work was bad and to redo it. One lady told me all jobs were like this, and I needed to suck it up and deal with it. I’d been working since age 16 and had a “gut” feeling I was being taken advantage of, but since this was my first real job, I kept it to myself and didn’t speak up. And looking back- I should have.
I won’t go into details, but one day I left work early to go to the doctor. I actually took work to do in the waiting room because I felt horrible taking time out of work for a medical appointment. My coworkers were back at the office pulling 10 and 12 hour days, and here I was, taking care of my health- what’s up with that?
Due to anxiety and other medical issues, my doctor placed me on medical leave. I was able to call in to let my boss know I wouldn’t be in, but I couldn’t talk to any of my coworkers or friends who worked there while I was on leave (one week). I also saw a therapist before returning. Ironically, when I told the therapist where I worked, she immediately understood as she had many clients who worked there…
After enduring so many tearful phone calls, my parents wanted me to quit and move home, but I didn’t. I went back to work after my leave, and things got a little better. I wasn’t comfortable working there and was actively looking for another job and putting in for *any* job opening. I applied for several things and felt confident I’d find something else. Wal-Mart is always hiring, right…?
During the job hunt, I thought about how much easier it would be to look for work if I had a medical or science related background. I wondered if I’d done the right thing majoring in Professional Writing. I also considered graduate school and was actively studying for the GRE just in case.
Toward the end of summer 2008, I had an interview for at Technical Writing position at my current company. With my current work experience in Technical Writing, I was 95% sure I wanted OUT of this field, until I went on this interview.
Talk about WOW. I actually met some of my coworkers during the interview (I got to ask them questions), and I noticed how… happy… everyone was. Genuine happiness- happiness that can’t be “bought” through a free lunch. Happiness that comes from being satisfied with your work and having a supportive work environment. Once again, I had a good feeling about the interview itself, but I guess I finally realized just how bad my current job was. I prayed and hoped for the best.
In September 2008, I got the call. I went to our break room at work, spoke to my current manager, and officially accepted the position. I was at the point where I’d do anything to change jobs, so it was a no-brainer. With the included insurance benefits and only working 40 hours per week, I would technically make more money working fewer hours.
Things were looking up. I gave my notice, and most of my coworkers were so happy I’d landed a better opportunity. My manager was happy for me, and three days after giving my notice, she told me she’d already noticed that I seemed much happier. Lots of managers I worked with (some I’m still in touch with today) wished me well and said they’d miss me and hoped my new job would be a great experience.
I still wasn’t 100% sure, but I took the giant leap of faith. I left my job, got paid for all the vacation I was never able to take, and Clay and I went to a University of South Carolina football game to celebrate.
That Monday, I would start working at my new (current) job…