Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why Do You Do What You Do?

I have been thinking lately about why I'm in the professional field that I am.

I can only remember 3 careers that I had in mind while I was growing up. When I was really little I wanted to be a bus driver. Then when I hit about twelve I decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist. That lasted for quite a while, but then when I was in about grade eleven all of my friends started talking about what they were going to do with their lives and what college or university they wanted to attend. One day I decided that it only made sense that I go to school for journalism.
I had always been word obsessed, I loved competing in spelling bees, I excelled in English and loved to read and write. It was funny that when the idea of being a journalist popped into my mind, it was like my thoughts became crystal clear and I thought "of course I should be a writer - there's nothing else I even want to do."
My mom nearly had a heart attack when I told her that I had decided to be a journalist. She kept telling me that they didn't make any money and that I was so smart, why didn't I go into something in the sciences or medical field? Try explaining to someone from an entire family of pharmacists, nurses, ultrasound techs and all things brainy and medical that you want to do something artsy. No one could grasp why I would want to do this to myself.
Thank god for my dad who finally decided that if I could deal with the fact that I would make crappy money, then I may as well do something I would be happy with. My dad had married into this medical family as an engineer for CN Railway so he knew what kind of reactions I was getting.
The summer I turned 18 I packed up my stuff and moved 18 hours away to a little city where I didn't know anyone and started going to college. I think that those few years were some of the best in my life and I learned a lot by being so far from home - good thing I'm not shy!
When I graduated I moved about 30 hours in the opposite direction to do my co-op placement as a reporter for a small weekly newspaper. It was awesome! I was terrified and excited the whole first month - but it was a fabulous job.
Eventually I lost my job there because they had some sort of rule about hiring people from out of province when there are people that have been born and raised there that need a job - that sucked.
Over the next 3 years I worked crappy retail jobs while trying to get another job in journalism. *Just a tip for anyone thinking of getting into the field...unless you have an "in" with someone or you have a horseshoe up your ass - you are not getting a job in this field. It is all about who you know, not what you know. And the writers stick around until they die at 87 years old and haven't wrote anything fresh or interesting since they were 50.*
Anyways, we moved to Manitoba in late 2001 and I got a job as a proofreader at a major auto magazine. I was also working 40 hours a week as a nanny for a family in the city to make ends meet. My hours at the auto magazine place ranged from 17 - 20 hours a week, and together with the nannying, sometimes my combined hours were 60 each week.
I worked like that for 3 years until I was so burnt out that I was starting to hate my life and my jobs. Oh yeah, and I was doing freelance writing for anyone that would give me a chance at the time.
Then one day about 7.5 months ago I saw this ad in the paper for an "editorial coordinator." I wasn't going to apply because I figured I wouldn't get it, but finally decided that I had nothing to lose but the 80 extra hours of work I was doing each month. So apply I did, and I was called for an interview the next week. Two hours after my interview they called to offer me the job, and two weeks later I started my current job.
I was an editorial coordinator for about 3 minutes before I was given the editor title. I was the junior editor for 3 months and then the senior editor quit and Ta Da! Ali was suddenly the only editor in sight. So far it has all been one huge blur, and I'm learning as I go, but I am far from being as good as I hope to be one day.

James was asking what magazine I work for - the truth is that I work for a publishing company, and we publish association magazines for people all over Canada and the U.S. I believe there are about 40 separate associations that we publish for. Some have 1 magazine a year, some 2, some 4, and some 12.
I am the editor for about 30 of those magazines - basically I am permanently busy.
But I love, love, love my job - the designers I work with are incredible, my boss is hilarious and it's a great place to work.

So now I'm curious, what do you all do? I know Reggie has something to do with investing, and Zig is a designer (he's one of the "incredible" ones at my work), Alyssa is a high school teacher (you are so brave to do that, I would be too chicken to hang out with high school kids), Logziella is a stay-at-home mom (which one day I hope to be) and I'm not sure about everyone else.

So what do you do and why do you do it? I would love to know more about all of you since I just bored you to tears with a 10 minute explanation of my career choice.


Blogger j.k.a said...

I'm not working at the moment, but I have been a been a nursing home aide, a coffee shop gal, and a bank teller, but due to the recent medical stuff I get the chance to try something new.

If I could be doing anything I would write full time or do web design. in my loftiest dreams I create and run a successful home business, though doing what I haven't figured!

what a great question...thanks for asking. :)

10:00 PM  
Blogger mr zig said...

Hm... what do I do? Oh yeah - my career is being "incredible" - yes - thats' it... I don't know what that Designer thing is all about... being incredible is a full time job! hahaha :)

11:06 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Don't get too cocky there Zig, maybe I made a mistake and I'm just referring to "Dan" - Ha, ha, ha. Oh, that's funny!

11:11 PM  
Blogger James said...

Hey Ali, that was in no way boring. I think it's great that you do something that you enjoy and are obviously doing well at it.

OK, you asked for it....a quick potted history. Firstly my big regret is that I was not educated up to degree standard. I was part of the "great" comprehensive school experiment of the 60s and 70s and in the area I grew up the 11-plus exam was not available. I never knew anything about university. I went to work at 16 in a jeans factory as a trainee sewing machine mechanic. After that I became a building site labourer, warehouseman, fork lift driver. These jobs bored me and on the side I designed Greeting cards and sold the designs to Hallmark, Cara and other companies. Some of them anyway, my success rate was about 50%. When my first marriage failed (Thankfully we had no children) I wanted a big life change so I went on a course and trained as a Commercial Deep Sea Diver. And did that for about a year afterwards. That was an exciting and a bit surreal time. But I did not have the highest qualification (helium diver)so could not get work on the oil rigs. By this time I had met Laundry Fairy and we knew we wanted to be together. After moving to another town I took the first job that came along-as a multidrop delivery driver for a white goods chain. I was the worst delivery driver out. I have always hated driving and I would always be getting lost or knocking bits off the van in small accidents. Then fate took a turn and I hurt my back very badly.I was off work most of a year. Doctors said at first that I would not be able to work again so I went to Art College in the hope of doing something arty. I got in by showing them some of my Greeting card designs I had sold commercially and a collection of life drawings I had done at night school. Those were a horrible two years though. Laundry Fairy and I came close to splitting up. There was never any money. If I have to generalise I think it is fair to say Indian women are very faithful BUT they have definite expectations of what a husband should be doing. Earning money and working is his proper role. Dossing about in art college is not. But I was determined to finish the course because I had started it. I also went for an interview and got a place at Wolverhampton University to study illustration. I kept the letter as a memento but I never went. I could not subject Laundry Fairy and (at the time 3) children to another three years of poverty.

My back had got somewhat better (I think carrying a big art portfolio and artbox around had helped-that and NOT lifting washing machines over head height) So I again took the first job I could get. It was as a worker on injection moulding machines in a French-owned car parts factory. I remember laying in bed the night before I started and thinking that no matter what, I would work at this and make it a success. Actually to my surprise I really enjoyed the work. After working in warehouses for 12 years in the past, this was the first time I had actually PRODUCED something and it felt satisfying. I quickly became the best and most productive worker. Then two things happened through my own efforts. (And God too).
The French manager noticed that I kept a small notebook in which I wrote things I discovered about the machines, and I was always asking questions. The other thing was that he discovered I was teaching myself French. I came in useful a couple of times when there was a problem with talking to the French lorry drivers.
He called me in the office one day and offered me either a team leaders job controlling my own shift OR training as a Maintenance man. The latter option was harder because it meant doing the same hours but also attending College one day a week to learn electrical stuff. I said I wanted to do the maintenace job.
That was a very hard two years. With the travelling to college and doing homework as well as working, sometimes I was so stressed I thought each day my head would explode. Things became worse when the chief maintenace man got the sack and I was responsible for keeping the floor running. I was on 24 hour call for 12 injection machines plus hydraulic presses and I had not even finished college!
Things were coming to a head. I was working 70 hours but for the same money as I had been getting as an machine operator. They promised me a big payrise when I qualified. But when it came, it was nowhere near what was the going rate. I said thank you but decided that day to look around for another job. I hated to do it because I loved that job and also I liked Pierre the manager who had helped me so much. But he had gone back to France a year before.
Within two weeks I had got a job with a larger French car company in the next town and doubled my salary.
I had never earned so much before! Laundry Fairy was happy and our years of poorhouse seemed to be over. I stayed there for about 3 and a half years and by the end I was specializing more in robotics. I was (and still am) fascinated by the way robots move.
Then in 2001 I got made redundant. I went back to my original French company (Pride is a useless emotion when you are hungry!)
And worked there just as a simple machine operator for another nine months. But the French were pulling out of England and building new plants in Poland where costs were lower. I got made redundant again. This double whammy only nine months apart set us back financially, as foolishly I had not saved much of my good salary from the other job and the redundancy money was soon gone.
After that I worked on the agency for about a year, sometimes 7 days a week. Funny though I never worried, not once; by then I had let God in my life a little bit and I knew everything would be OK. I was offered permanent jobs every place I worked (mostly warehouses)but did not want them. Then about 3 years ago I took my current job in Royal Mail, a new depot that is on my doorstep. (I don't like driving far to work) It is a no-brainer of a job but on the other hand there is no stress involved.
Future plans? I have seen something I think I can do quite easily in my spare time as an extra income. I am planning on teaching myself to sculpt small figurines. I already know how to make moulds.

Wow sorry this has been so long, I didn't mean it to get this detailed.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting. You indicated a footnote at the sentence that ended in 50 but supplied no footnote. I am hurt.

I avoid posting about my occupation because I am so regulated in my industry that I am prohibited from posting about my job unless any writing is proofread and approved by my compliance department.

I manage money for individuals that are mostly retired and my goal is to produce them a steady stream of income that they can’t outlive. Currently I manage around 65 Million US dollars.

I love my work and I love the relationships and trust it invokes.

I wanted to be a cop as a young person and then a geologist. My father reasoned that as a cop I would get shot and I wasn’t smart enough to be a geologist. Plus I would make enough money on either occupation.

So I sold stuff first off. I love selling, whether it’s a real product, concept or solution. (I hate the term solution). I first sold construction fasteners, then welding supplies. I hated fire and electricity so I got out of the welding business.

I started in this business in 1984 and starved until about 1990. This is a hard business to get started in, Gigi was working and that kept hope alive. I have slowly built a great book of clients. I would trade my job for anything.

4:17 AM  
Anonymous Judy said...

I am a receptionist in a law firm. I have been here 20 years. Before that I was a receptionist in a Drs. office and before that retail and before that a stay at home Mom. The biggiest regret of my life is that I didn't follow my heart and have a career in Art. I should have been an art teacher! I long to retire and just paint and market my work. Hopefully it will be soon.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

j.k.a. - I long to run a home business too, if you come up with a fantastic idea let me know, then we could have branches in two provinces.
james - wow, that is quite the journey you have been on. I can't believe you sold designs to greeting card companies! I have always wanted to do that but never knew how to go about doing it, you must be very talented. As for the future job of sculpting figurines - if you start to do it, count me in for buying some!
reggie - I apologize for the "50" comment. In no way, shape, or form was I referring to the general population over 50. I'm just saying that in the journalism field it seems that after someone has been working the same beat for a lengthy amount of time, they seem to get stale. Almost as though they can't think of a new way to approach something so it draws the reader in. People over 50 are wonderful and bright and intelligent, when I'm that age I plan on being quite the fabulous lady.
judy - ah, regrets. Even at 26 I have a few. I have actually done the receptionist thing as well, and enjoyed it alot because of all the new people I got to meet.
And although you didn't have a career in art - you are so obviously talented and now you have the option of painting whenever you like. Because it wasn't your career you weren't forced to do it everyday, and you're probably a better artist because of that. You could always try to teach an art class at a community college or something like that too.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Logziella said...

I think this is the longest string of comments in blogger history! I love that!!

Well, I started out in highschool working at a small fast food restaurant, then worked at a bowling alley, then an amusement park (Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio). Then I moved back home and worked for a temp agency to obtain a 'real' grown up job. I never had plans for college b/c I always knew I wanted to be a full time stay at home Mom. So far I don't regret that decision. So, with the temp agency, I worked many odd jobs and that was fun for a while b/c I had no real bills to pay but then I ended up staying with a company in their shipping department. I was the only female in a shop of males but I didn't mind. I was young and spunky and fit right in. Eventually I got a promotion into the office at that company and learned accounting. I took a college course in accounting also. (This is where I met my husband...he came into fix a machine in the shop and I thought he was pretty cute. The guys in the shop knew me and knew I was a Christian, as were some of them, and got to talking with him and learned we had a lot in common and 'set us up'. That particular guy responsible for that was actually in our wedding as we all became great friends.) So anyway, my new boss in the office of that place was a psycho lady and I soon left after a year in the office. I got myself a WONDERFUL job doing accounting again and administrative assistant work and LOVED it. But that company eventually got bought out and everyone had to relocate to Pennsylvania and I was not interested in that. They gave me a NICE severence check and that paid for most of our wedding. I moved onto another company and once again did accounting and Chuck and I married after I worked there for 5 months. It was somewhere in this time that we realized that we wanted to attend Bible School in Tulsa Oklahoma. So, after 10 months of marriage, Chuck and I moved to Oklahoma. I quit my job and did not get another in OK for a while...till I got bored anyway. I worked at a place that answered 1-800 # phones, mostly for other ministries. It was CRAZY! The things people would call in and say or ask for was nuts! That lasted only a short period of time b/c I HATED it. Well, on a sad note, going back to my last job before we moved...we had hired and trained another lady to take my place after I moved and in that time we had gotten somewhat close. We kept in touch thru e-mail after our move. She ended up getting into a terrible car accident and she died only 3 months after I moved. SO SAD!! That company ended up calling me and asking me if I would be willing to work from home for them. I loved the idea and said yes. I worked 30 hours a week while attending school and it really was a dream situation as the hours were perfect and whenever we would take a long vacation back to MI, I would just go into the office there and work. I worked from home for them for about 2 1/2 years and until Logan was 8 1/2 months old. It was getting harder and harder to hold down a full time job at home AND take care of a baby. I was thinking of quitting and then one day they called to tell me that I was being laid off as there was some MAJOR scandel happening there and the company was restructering. It all worked out great! I did have a small daycare for about a year in OK while Kenzie was a baby. I watched 2 girls (from Switzerland) while their parents were attending Bible School. I LOVED that! Then we moved back to MI and not long after we got mom needed help at her work. I forgot to mention that she ended up taking my job in the factory where I had worked at in the shipping dept. And she is still there. So, since I knew the job and welcomed the break from the kiddos, I worked with her back in that shop with all the old people I worked with over 10 years ago. That gig was supposed to be only a few weeks long until things got caught up but the work kept coming in and I was loving the 3 days a week of getting out and being with adults so I continued on for almost another year...eventually working with my Mother became more and more difficult so I ended that. Soon after, I became pregnant with Ella.

As for future...there are many possibilities out there for me. If Chuck does end up starting his own business, then I am sure I will be a big part of that and probably do the book keeping. I can't wait to become more involved at our Church volunteering. I am interested in possibly counseling and I have many hobbies that I would not mind turning into somethign at some point in time.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Amos said...

How interesting! thanks for sharing that.

I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little. And now I hate to fly, imagine that, HA!

I grew up playing piano, so I went to college for Music. And graduated with a BA in Music and a minor in Athletic Training. The trainers always joked that I was going to sing to my athletes. But the emphasis changed in college from me wanting to be a music teacher, to me wanting to be an athletic trainer. But then I met my hubby to be and I never finished the hours to become certified.

But that is ok, because once we moved to Oklahoma and decided to go to Bible college, I began working for an orthopedic clinic, first in test scheduling, then walking patients to their rooms, then surgery scheduling, then working with a back surgeon directly, I would go in an see the patient and then he would go and see them. I loved every minute of it because it was all athletic training related.

So now, I am a stay at home mom, I do the paperwork for the rental properties that we have (five) and the ones we used to manage (ten), and that really sort of sucks, and I do that paychecks for the trucking part that my husband does. We own 2 semis. But that is minimal work in a week.

And finally, I am planning on going back to school, which I said I would never do, since I graduated every 5 years since 1990 from something, and I am going to get my Registered Nursing license, mostly to use on the mission field somewhere. I love to help people and I love organizing, two things that nursing really sort of is. And after nursing school, that is it!

6:06 PM  
Blogger James said...

I keep reading these posts all over again. It is very interesting, peoples very different life journeys. I have just a few trivial questions and comments:
@ J.k.a. and Ali:
The internet seems to be the way to make a lot of money quick these days.....there was that guy who started off with offering a paperclip to swop and traded it up and in the end got a million dollar house or something.....the internet is a crazy place.
@ Reggie: It didn't work I will have to get myself a Google account. You seem to have almost fallen into,your job by a series of accidents but I guess it was a lot of unspoken hard work too. I am guessing you enjoy the "people stuff" part of your job the most, you seem like a people person.
@ Logziella: I am intrigued; what was so special about Tulsa for Bible study? Why could you not study where you were?
@ Amos: Do you ever have trouble with any of your tenants?

12:36 AM  
Blogger Logziella said...

James-The school that was located in Tulsa is what was so special about it. In my opinion, it's the best Bible School in our country. They have correspondance courses you can take but we wanted to experience the whole thing. The move was the best thing we ever did! It really bonded us together as a newly married couple to be so far away from all we knew. We made friendships there that will last a lifetime. Plus we got to experience an entirely different culture. The North and the South (U.S.)are really quite different. Someday we hope to be back in the Southern part of the country.

10:40 AM  

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