Career Stagnation To Career Progression

career chart In my life, I have been blessed with both a gift and a curse. I have above-average intelligence and a strong desire to learn and understand new things. I also am both lazy and a procrastinator. Remember when we were all taught in school that hard work pays off? I was that kid who things either came easy to, or I was looking for way to cut the amount of hard work I had to do. I think it was my father who clued me in on an important lesson – it’s more important to work hard, than to work smart. Time and experience taught me that he was right. People say you need to work hard, but working hard without having some sense behind it can be wasted effort.

I grew up with the type of parents who wanted me to have what they had and even more. That meant that college was not an option, it was an expectation. It was never explicitly said, but I assumed that I’d follow the path everyone else does: go to college, graduate, get a corporate job and kill it. 17-year-old Jubi just knew she would be a VP of R&D for a Fortune 100 company one day, it was just a matter of time. I mean, it’s super easy to make it up the corporate ladder, right?

After college and grad school, I jumped into the corporate world full force. I’d read the books and the articles, I’d attended the career office sessions, and I was armed with lots of advice from my mentors. I had lofty goals to make my mark and zoom up the ladder to success. My first job was with a defense contractor, and I was the first new hire in the labs in 15+ years. I was also the only woman, the only person of color, and the youngest by at least 30 years. I jumped in with both feet, and I worked hard. I volunteered for everything I could, from community volunteer events to the corporate recruiting team. I asked for stretch assignments and my eagerness and desire to learn was rewarded with challenging assignments that a new grad probably shouldn’t have handled. I mapped out a career progression plan with my manager, and I set my sights on becoming the lab group supervisor in 3-5 years, knowing that the current supervisor was soon to retire. What I didn’t know was coming was the housing crisis in 2006. Central Florida was hurt hard, and that meant there was no movement – people who planned to retire were staying at work, given the uncertain outlook of their retirement accounts.

I took all of that experience and excitement and moved to a new company in a new industry. In that role, I had to work hard AND work smart. It was a very challenging role, in an industry I was learning, and I was expected to perform as if I’d been working there all my life. The standards were high, and I felt as if I’d be thrown into the deep end of the pool when I’d barely mastered treading water. When you’re drowning (or you think you’re drowning), you’re trying to not panic but inside you’re freaking out and trying not to die. The first 12-18 months in that role was a perpetual feeling of drowning. I tried to act like I had it all together and I knew what I was doing, but inside I wanted to cry every day. Some days, I did cry in the lab, or at home after work. I worried that I was failing, and that I couldn’t cut it. But somewhere in there, I realized that I learned a lot. I realized that I had learned to swim, and I was doing more than just treading water. I was providing value! I was learning and growing and figuring things out! But…I was not enjoying what I was doing. My company was not known for work/life balance, and it would only get worse with each promotion. That’s not the life I wanted, and I was also tired of life in the lab. I wanted change and so when the opportunity presented itself, I took it.

I changed careers and industries three years ago. In that time I’ve gone from loving my job, to hating my job, to wanting to walk out and never come back to my job, to loving it again, to now. At the present moment, I’ve settled on indifference, both towards my company and my career. I come to work, I do a few things, but the passion is gone. My attitude as of late has been “well, I’ll just keep showing up until they tell me to stop coming.”

I’m still not sure if the leap was a good move. After three years, I’m still at the same level in my company, despite my attempts at promotions. I survived some less-than stellar managers, including one who refused to promote any of the women on his team. I also survived several layoffs and three reorganizations, and 4 different managers in one year. I look at a few of my former teammates who also started around the time I did, and they have made more progression in their careers at our company. Some of it is strictly “right place, right time” but I wonder how much of it is me. Is this truly the right place for me?

Looking back, I’ve learned a lot about how the working world works. I know that my career progression isn’t going to be a straight line. I also don’t want to wake up and see another 5 years have passed, and I’m still stuck at the same level. Even if I do stay at the same level, I’d be happy if I found a challenge in my work, and I felt that my work added value. Right now, I feel neither.  I feel “stuck” and I worry that I will wake up five years from now, still in the same position, at the same level, in the same company. That is my greatest fear and so, all my energy is devoted to preventing that from happening.

Any tips for me?

 

 

My Expectations For Marriage

I wrote a beautiful post...and it was posted on A Practical Wedding today! APW was one of my fave wedding sites during my engagement, and I love that they focus on more than just the wedding. They have info and posts about not just your wedding, but your marriage, your family, even your career. And the community? Its the bee's knees, full of thoughtful commenters who know how to be respectful. A snippet from my post:

got married a little over five months ago.  As a newlywed, the question I get the most often is, “How is married life? Is it everything you expected?” I generally give a generic answer about it being awesome, but that’s a half-truth. Married life is amazing and better than I expected, but that’s because my expectations were non-existent.

I always knew that I wanted to be married, but I never spent much time thinking about what I wanted from marriage. Instead, I fantasized about what I didn’t want my marriage to be like—my parents’ marriage. I grew up in a two-parent home, with people who loved each other but didn’t know how to really make a marriage work. It wasn’t their fault; they both grew up in single-parent homes. They grew up differently and took different paths in life before they met and married.

Check out the rest here - I Have No Idea How To Have A Happy Marriage on A Practical Wedding

Thanks for reading!.

Weight Frustrations

One constant thing in my life has been my struggle with my weight, and food. Even at my smallest size, I have struggled with accepting my body and my feelings of inadequacy because of my weight. Over the years, I've lost and gained, and worked on accepting myself for where I am in the present moment, with varying success. In 2010, I lost 50 pounds - I felt so great! Thanks to the Primal lifestyle, the weight fell off pretty easily and quickly. I loved being able to fit into smaller sizes, and my confidence soared. I felt in control and that I had the tools to get me where I wanted, size- and weight-wise. I knew what to do, and I had the motivation of success, but I didn't stick to what worked before. I went back to my old ways of cheat days and stress eating. I have intermittently gone back to Primal eating, but I have not sustained it.

And that's how I find myself back at the same point I was in 2010, at my highest weight.

I'm pissed. 100% pissed at myself, because I allowed this to happen. And I really wish that I hadn't.

5 years ago, I gathered up all my fat clothes, with the exception of 1 pair of jeans, and I gave them all away. Sadly, that pair of jeans fits now. And I'm wishing that I had some of those fat clothes. *sigh*

In a few day, I have an event to attend. I wanted a new dress for said event, so I've been looking for new dress for said event. Over the past week, I've visited a variety of stores, looking for a dress - from Macy's to Nordstrom Rack to Kohl's. I've been so frustrated with the lack of acceptable options, I wanted to break down and cry. This shouldn't be so hard! It's so discouraging to walk into a store like TJ Maxx and see two sad racks of plus size clothing, most of which is ugly. Even my best destinations like Macy's were devoid of acceptable options.I finally gave up my search and I've decided to wear something I already own.

Nothing makes you want to starve yourself into losing 50 pounds like a shopping trip as a plus size woman.

It shouldn't be so hard! Why is this so hard???

And really, why did I do this to myself??? *sigh* Starting over is always so hard and I worried I can't do this yet again. And that worry leads me to making myself feel better with ice cream. I know what I need to do, I know I CAN do it...it's just the following through part that is the hardest part.

But I have no choice. Because I'm tired of having the same experiences. I'm tired of being unhappy with what I see in the mirror. I want better, so I have no choice but to make it happen.

Somehow I've Become A Contestant On Corporate Survivor

Three years ago, I received a job offer from my current company. Back then, I was so excited! After much contemplation, I made the decision to take a break from life in the chemistry lab, and try something new. I loved my time as a lab chemist, but my last laboratory role left me burnt out and bitter. It was stressful working for a rigorous company, and I was overworked. I envied the work-life balance that other people had, and I wanted that for myself.

Making the leap to a new company and a new career seemed like a no-brainer. I traded my lab coats and safety glasses for heels and dresses. Instead of commuting to a manufacturing site in the suburbs, I began working downtown, enjoying both the easier commute and the after-work happy hours. No more spending my days running samples, or dealing with unreasonable requests data, or taking apart chromatography equipment. I traded all that in for a new career in supply chain, and I was so excited to start my new career journey.

As with most experiences, the beginning of my career journey was all sunshine and roses. I was so excited when I wore my first dress and pair of heels to work - seriously, I'd never done it before. That sort of attire isn't really practical for the lab. Along with my new wardrobe, I also enjoyed learning a new industry, and I found that I had an aptitude for it. Spoiler alert: supply chain operations is similar to manufacturing operations. I met lots of new people and even got paid to spend 30 minutes at a time talking to people I already knew. And my pay was better. With all that, what's not to like?

After the first year, I ended up with a new manager, a new project and my work life went from sugar to shit. It's amazing how much your manager can make or break your work experience. I spent 15 months on a challenging assignment, that taught me a lot but also tested me hard. At the lowest moments, I contemplated taking my now-husband's offer to quit my job and move to DC. But I stuck it out - partly because I knew it wouldn't be bad forever and partially because I refused to let my then-manager have the satisfaction of chasing me out of the company.

I survived that horrible manager, and that horrible project, and I moved to a new role in a new area. Things started looking up again. I was beginning to feel encouraged...and then the bottom fell out of the whole thing. My company executed a massive layoff, slashing a large chunk of the workforce in a day. I call that day Bloody Tuesday and it actually fell the same week as our wedding. Talk about timing. That day was so tough, seeing so many people who I knew, worked with, my friends, walked out of the building with their belongings in a white box. It was so brutal. And that wasn't the end of the layoffs - we've had an additional two more rounds. The gossip mill says there will be yet another this year, a large one to rival the layoffs we experienced this spring.

Is it bad that I'm hoping that I would be laid off?

I realized recently that my corporate life feels like a season of the game show Survivor. Each one of us is hoping to make it another week, another month, and hopefully be the last one standing on the island when the game is over. We know that hard decisions will have to be made and that everyone won't end up on the island when the game is over. And it's stressful to live this way. It's stressful to try to produce meaningful work in this situation.

How can you plan your career when you don't know if you'll be around?

How can you do your best work, meaningful work, when you don't know if you'll be around tomorrow to finish it?

How can you put your faith and trust in a company when you saw them blind side people and leave them without a livelihood?

My coworkers and I all walk on eggshells each day. We talk to each other in hushed tones, whispering about the latest rumors we've heard. We don't speak it, but each of us wonders if we'll be able to survive. We congratulate the people who resign, as they move on to what are hopefully more stable pastures. We hope that one day that will be us, that we'll be able to make it off the island.

So much has happened in three years. Things have changed, I've grown, and it feels like it's time to move to the next opportunity. I hope to move to it voluntarily but who knows how this game of Corporate Survivor will turn out.

 

On 33

I turn 33 today. I used to turn up for my birthday - taking a trip somewhere with my friends, partying and celebrating the joyous occasion that was my birth. As a single person, your birthday is generally the only time you get to be celebrated, other than graduations or a housewarming.

I brought in 32 with a bang, first at my BFF's wedding and then on the beach in Puerto Rico with my love. 33 will be much quieter, and I'm looking forward to it. 32 was a big year for me, and I realized a dream and desire that I never thought would come to pass. I'm still amazed that I found my love and now I'm his wife!

I always get sentimental and thoughtful around my birthday...this year is no different. This is also a time where I find myself replaying the previous year and reflecting on the goals I did not achieve. I made progress in some areas, and regressed in others. I want 33 to be more progression than regression.

My wishes for 33:

  • To be the best wife I can be to my husband; to love him unconditionally and support him as his helpmate.
  • To get all these ideas in my mind out into the Universe, through writing.
  • To follow my career dreams...start a business, or a side hustle, and take chances while I'm still in a corporate role.
  • To focus on my yoga practice, making it a priority each day.
  • To grow in my personal relationships with each of my family members and friends.
  • To feel confident and sexy all the time, not just some time, or when I've lost weight, or when I'm wearing the right outfit.
  • To stay disciplined
  • To add some stamps to my passport!
  • To see some beautiful things in beautiful places.
  • To be brave...or at least fake it until I feel brave.
  • To write more for the blog - I feel like I say this every year but I really want to make it happen this time!
  • To break my sweet tooth.
  • To stay happy and grateful.

That's not too much to ask for in one year, right?

Cheers to 33...I hope that on the eve of 34, I look back fondly on the journey that was 33.