36. Seven Years Later

 
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Happy Friday! I hope you had a great week!

This Monday is my 7th anniversary with my current company. It’s also been 7 years since I made my career transition from laboratory chemist to data analyst. I’m really amazed that it’s been 7 years because it’s about 5 years longer than I expected to be here. When I first started, I thought I’d made a terrible decision - the culture was completely different than what I was used to, I was working in a completely new space, and frankly, the company wasn’t doing well. Things got really dire around the 2 year mark, between company issues and a terrible boss, and at my lowest point I considered walking away, even without a job, but my husband convinced me to stay. Then there was a time where I expected to be laid off along with 10% of our headquarters staff, but somehow I stayed on. Over time, things have gotten better, both for me and for my company.

Along the way, my life and priorities changed. In my 20s, all I cared about was my salary & vacation time, but as a married woman having babies, I care about maternity leave, flexible work arrangements, etc. The two biggest things that have kept me at my company are my benefits (including the maternity leave) and the way the entire corporate culture has evolved for the better in the last 5 years. I get to work with really smart, talented people each day, and I report to a leader who provides guidance but gives me autonomy, and I get to enact real change, which is very gratifying. I legit like what I work on, and I get to make meaningful changes that impact customers directly, which is really cool.

I’m not sure if I’ll make it to the 10 year mark at this company, just given our family priorities, but it’s been a great 7 years that have taught me so much. It hasn’t always been great, but overall it’s been a good 7 years. And frankly, I’m happy I left the lab when I did and made a career change.

Things I Read This Week:

The CEO of a Major Headhunting Firm Says the Best Resume He's Ever Seen Had These 6 Things (MSN)

Buyer Beware When Shopping on Amazon (Jezebel)

The Unspoken Hurdle of Getting Funding for Plus-Size Fashion Brands (Glamour)

The True Story Behind Mindhunter’s Atlanta Child Murders (Vulture)

The never-ending, very confusing battle for Etsy’s soul (Vox)

White-on-White Violence: How a Bedbug Diss Teaches Us Everything We Need to Know About White Male Fragility (The Root)

Chrissy Teigen wants her husband to take more pictures of her—and we can so relate (Motherly)

Kissing Ass At Miki Agrawal's Butt-Con (Jezebel)

Hollywood Almost Broke Renée Zellweger. Now She’s Back. (Vulture)

I Tried 7 Top-Rated Mascaras and Found the Very Best One (Man Repeller)

Don’t talk to me if you don’t want to talk about “Are You the One?’’ (Just Good Shit)

Do I Pay Off My Student Loans Or Save For Retirement? | Ask CMO And Ask The Readers (Chief Mom Officer)

Congress promised student borrowers a break — Then-Ed Dept. rejected 99 percent of them (MPR News)

Bachelor star 'begging' wife for sex 4 weeks after birth highlights sadly common problem (Motherly)

"Crazy Rich Asians" Writer Leaves Franchise Over Pay Disparity (BUST)

One year ago, Botham Jean was killed in his home. The ex-officer who shot him is about to go on trial. (Vox)

Other Stuff:

Anyone else a Steven Universe fan? This Monday was the premiere of Steven Universe The Movie, and in preparation, Carton Network did a marathon of the entire series…so I watched a lot of Steven Universe this holiday weekend! It’s such a great show - really touching and heartwarming but also really funny and entertaining! The movie was really great, a continuation of the story but with new songs and a new character as well. 10/10 would recommend.

I think I mentioned that this year my husband and I are following English Premier League. We’re now 4 weeks into the new season, and who’s team is on top? Mine! Liverpool is currently in the lead with 12pts and Man City (William’s team) is right behind them.

I’m really excited to see Serena Williams back in the US Open finals! I’m hoping she can get her 24th major this time.

Have a great weekend!

My Hunt For A Great Work Bag

In college, I ditched backpacks in favor of tote bags. Backpacks made me feel like I was still a kid, but my first tote gave me the grown-up feel and appearance I was looking for. Over the years I've amassed quite a collection of tote bags, varying in size, material and price point. I've also spent the last few years carrying my laptop back and forth to work in a tote instead of laptop bag, cause face it, 99% of laptop bags are ugly and/or aren't functional enough for me. 

As a single lady, I carried two bags to work - my purse and my tote. My tote was the catch-all for all my extra stuff, like my laptop, notebook, lunch (if I managed to pack it), etc. This system wasn't the best, but it worked and it didn't feel the need to upgrade my work bag. I also wasn't the type to bring my laptop home each evening, unless I planned to work from home the next day or over the weekend. 

All of that changed when I returned to work after my maternity leave. After the first couple of weeks, I knew that I needed a new system. My laptop now comes home with me each evening, plus I need to transport my pumping supplies and/or lunch. Some days I ended up with 3 bags and it felt like I was a Bag Lady, so I set out to find a new bag. 

I wanted something cute and functional, and there are a lot of new options out there. A few women suggested I check out Dagne Dover, and I also checked out Lo & Sons based on a Twitter recommendation. I loved the bags but I was afraid to pull the trigger on a $100+ work bag that might not fit my needs. I love a nice bag, but what's the point if it doesn't help me downsize?

After several hours and Google searches, I decided to order the CommuteHer bag from Betabrand. I really liked how functional this bag was, with a variety of pockets and ability to store lots of items. The CommuteHer bag can hold all my gear: a water bottle, umbrella, keys, headphones, work bag, wallet, makeup kit, sunglasses, laptop, pumping supplies, and lunch! The bag is nylon which I'm not a huge fan of, but it doesn't absorb water when it rains, which is a plus. And best of all, I'm down to ONE BAG, yay! 

I've been carrying the CommuteHer bag for about six weeks now, and it's made my commute so much easier. The only drawback is that I need to switch some items to a purse when I go out in the evening or on weekends, but I'm able to transfer my wallet, makeup kit and keys pretty easily. Overall I'm super happy with this purchase...though I do have my eye on other bags, but I'll stick with this one for now. 

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.