On My Mind: Lessons From Working Salary
Today is the day I kiss goodbye the comforts of a salaried position. No more benefits, no more “paid time off”, no more company perks like free lunches three times a week plus all the soda a girl could ask for. I’m saying farewell to a really awesome tight-knit team, a spectacular location right off market, and to working with one of my good friends who has become somewhat of a mentor. I wont lie, it’s bitter sweet. But the freelancer in me is jumping for joy.
You might be thinking, “Loretta you need to get your head checked. That job sounded pretty awesome”.
Here’s the thing. It was. On paper the job was perfect. I was learning UI/UX from a friend, designing cool stuff for the app as well as taking on most of the social media marketing needs myself, and getting paid to do it. And still I was unhappy.
I was coming home emotionally and mentally spent every day and I was stressing out about money all the time. It just seemed like I was putting in so much effort and extra hours in and not seeing any extra pay off. It was just the same old paycheck every two weeks, that didn’t even cover all the rent and bills. Even though I was exhausted, I agreed to take on clients because I needed more money. As you can imagine, my balance was off. Something had to give.
I realized that I really prefer to be paid for my time.
If I work 10 hours, I want to get paid for ten hours. If i work 6, I get paid for six. I weighed the pros and cons of the benefits of salaried life against my goals for my career and decided that a healthy work life balance is really important to me, so that I can go home and continue to work on client projects, and this specific start-up environment wasn’t conducive to that.
I also concluded after doing an exercise on finding my values, that the company’s values didn’t align with my own, which is why I was feeling so undervalued and unfulfilled. And then I had an epiphany: The company isn’t going to change, so I need to change my situation. I’ve learned that when you’re in an unfulfilling work environment, and people make excuses for it, chances are it’s a pattern and not a one-time occurrence. I used to get told all the time “lets just do it fast this once and get it out and the next project will be better” or “that’s just the way start-ups are”. After 3 months of this, I decided I had had enough excuses.
Don’t get me wrong. It was really really hard to admit to myself that I wanted to leave this comfortable space. I had grown used to it and was afraid at first that no one would hire me with only 6 months of UI/UX experience. I live in a huge tech capital and the competition is fierce. Facebook, twitter, pinterest, air bnb… they are all here and they all demand excellent designers with years and years of experience.
I decided to poke my go-to staffing agency and let them know i’m casually looking. Well there is no such thing as “casually looking” to them. If you’ve ever worked with a staffing agency, you know that they are pretty fast about finding opportunities (depending on the agency). So within two weeks I had done two interviews and was accepted. I notified my friend and mentor the next day. This experience isn’t going to happen for everyone working with a recruiter, but if you’re in a bind, sometimes they can help you find work fast.
I’m really excited to be moving back to contracting in a place that flat out told me they care about healthy work life balance. The commute is an hour, but luckily it’s only one train.
My advice to anyone suffering silently (or not so silently) in their job:
Be brave enough to admit that things won’t change unless you do something about it.
Before I start, I’ll be taking a much-needed 4 day weekend down in Southern California to see family. I wont get back until late tuesday, so my monday post might not happen, depending on service. I hope to come back energized and ready to take on this new position as well as bust out some more personal projects.
Have a wonderful weekend!