Friday, February 13, 2009

Working 9 to 5

I opted to not post a video for this because of the language, but hum the tune to yourself while reading :)

I attended a Relief Society Enrichment night this week. It was a dinner for a Visiting Teaching conference. I was seated at a table with 7 other women. What was interesting was three of them were freshman in college, one was looking for a job, and three were employed. However, none of them were "career" women. In the words of one of the women at the table, when she graduated college she wasn't interested in a career job, so she works for a friend of her family's. The others have worked various jobs, but never more than a couple of years at once place. Usually the job changes are to move locations or because the current job got boring, not to move up a career ladder and get more skills or more prestige or a better title.

It occurred to me as I sat at this table that I am a career woman. I have pushed for the last two years to get a promotion, because I thought I was well-qualified and slightly overdue for it. I did finally get the promotion last summer. For the last year I have been pushing to be a Chief Programmer, which means the leader over an entire project (like, 50 ish people). Since that isn't panning out, I have been asking about moving into management, thinking that maybe that track will be faster than the technical advancement track.

I have been deluding myself into thinking I was just working at a job. When I was in college, I had no aspirations to be a career woman. I simply wanted to make money so that I wouldn't be poor. When I started at IBM, I didn't plan on staying there for more than a couple of years. I even thought about turning down stock options because I wouldn't be around when they vested. I used to think it didn't matter if I was a lead, I was good with just doing my job. But that actually isn't the case. I have recently been confronted with people at work who are
really ok with just doing their job, and not seeking anything more. I am always interested in growth opportunities, and if there is a hole I am always interested in filling it. I was thinking about this, and was going to blame the Individual Development Plan. At IBM, we have to tell them where we want to be in the next 1 year, and the next 5 years. I have had on there to be an STSM, which is close to the highest technical title you can have at IBM, but I never thought it was serious. But apparently, if you read that year after year after year, you start to believe it.

However, as I thought about this more, I realized it didn't just start with IBM. I have actually always been this driven. I worked at Wal-Mart when I was in high school and I started out stocking shelves. And then I got to know how Wal-Mart works, and started helping out when we were short, covering managers by being responsible for all of the registers in the store. So the managers wanted to assign me to work on the registers, and I told them no, they didn't need another cashier, they needed better management of the registered. I asked to be promoted to a Customer Service Manager (CSM), and that I was good at that and could keep everything organized and running. So they did, which meant a pay raise, and I was a CSM at the age of 18.

Moral of the story: Attending enrichment meetings is a great way to learn something new about yourself :)

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