Corporate America - A Much Safer Scheme


Coming out of college, I had no clue how to market my skills. My biggest problems were that I didn't know my audience, the market, or my value. I didn't know what kind of jobs were out there--let alone, what I wanted to do. After I graduated, I worked my summer job one last time for the City Parks Department and in the fall, I took my father's advice and went to a job fair.

At the job fair I attempted to market my managing skills and experience from volunteer organizations I'd been a part of in college. I'd had experience as a president, vice president, national communications coordinator, marketing chair, community leader, resident assistant, student senator, and community ambassador. However, because I listed everything under "volunteer" the people I spoke with didn't take me seriously. They focused on my paid experience for the city where I was a crew leader. I gave examples of my leadership there, but the recruiters had a hard time seeing how I was prepared for corporate culture when my experience was in coordinating teams with a walkie-talkie to deal with situations like mowing parks, weed whipping highways, pulling trucks out of mud, or working with the police and secret service to help guard President George W. Bush (when he came to town one time).

I was upset.

Why had I done so much volunteering? Why had I spent so many nights up late organizing things, traveling to different cities, leading delegations, holding people accountable to learn and implement programming, building communities, raising money, creating powerpoint presentations, writing speeches, sending out letters and surveys, interviewing candidates, researching policies, reading bills, running meetings, meeting people, public speaking, dealing with political relationships and public relations, mediating conflicts, partnering with community organizations, and dedicating myself to the goal that every organization that I touch will be better after I left because of something I did. Because I loved it.

At one of the free campus presentations I attended in college, I saw a traveling poet who said, "You've got to get butt-deep in life." I interpreted that to mean don't just wade into the water up to your ankles. Sure it's cold, but isn't that why you're at the beach? Walk out into the water to at least that level where it gets surprisingly uncomfortable.

Guess what happens?

You get used to the temperature. You go out farther. Once the cold water is past your lungs, it feels like you can't breathe. It only lasts about 10 seconds. It's a looong 10-seconds.

Then suddenly you're swimming!

Remember when the water used to feel so cold? You were timid and slow moving. You didn't like how the water felt--even though you came to the beach to be in it. You had to get past the temporary difficulty of adjusting to the temperature. You had to get a feel for it. And now you're gliding through it gracefully and with pleasure. It's a completely different experience--It's fun!

My volunteering in both high school and college had made me a totally new person. I wouldn't be who I am today without those volunteer experiences. I wouldn't be writing this blog today, if I didn't believe that there was something so much greater to being alive than "a job" working in corporate culture. But at the job fair, I was blinded to all of the value I had obtained. I had two people talk to me that were super interested in my skills and abilities. But they completely dismissed all of my volunteer experience. I told them I was looking for an entry level management position. They didn't have one available, but if I took the job they were offering as an Image Processing Specialist it would get my foot in the door and give me opportunities for management in the future. They offered me $12 dollars per hour. I had no idea what kind of salary to expect as a college graduate in 2005. All I knew was that I was worried about finding employment because I was going to be married in a month and I needed to provide for my wife. She was only making $9.25 an hour. Adding $12/hour to that would provide a steady and secure income. So I quickly dismissed all of my experience managing teams--just as the recruiters had done. They told me it wasn't valuable experience and I foolishly, foolishly believed them. They were my first offer and I was afraid that everyone would feel the same way. So I gave up on the person I had been for the last 6 years in high school and college and became a corporate peon.

What was an Image Processing Specialist? I found out on day one. I went in and filled out a 10-page new-hire document with all of my personal address and contact information, and legal/national citizenship. Signed "conflict of interest" agreements. Agreed to dedicate the primary focus of my life to working for this organization. Each page had a section at the top to write my 10-digit "team member" number: 0037739745. Then they sat me in front of a computer and I saw a strikingly familiar document show up on the screen. It was the same new hire paper work now scanned into a computer. But it wasn't my name or personal information. My job was to electronically file this document. This meant I had to type that 10-digit team member number into the mainframe host program. So for 8 hours a day:

A document appeared, I toggled to "host" (Alt +Tab), typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I toggled to "host" (Alt +Tab), typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I toggled to "host" (Alt +Tab), typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I toggled to "host" (Alt +Tab), typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I toggled to "host" (Alt +Tab), typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I toggled to "host" (Alt +Tab), typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I toggled to "host" (Alt +Tab), typed 10-digits and hit enter.

I had a always been a poor typist. So after struggling through hunting and pecking across the top row of numbers, I decided to teach myself 10-key on the keypad. At the end of the first 2 weeks, I could type all of the numbers without looking. Two days later I started listening to music while I did the mind-numbing work. By the end of the first month I was winning periodic contests for processing the most documents during designated times called "sprints". I won a yo-yo; a pack of playing cards; a corporate branded winter headband that was too small; a big, fat, plastic red pen; corporate branded post-it notes; and a Nalgene water bottle--which I traded with the second-place winner for a slinky dog.

These were the perks of my job. The reward of doing what I had been told was the right thing to do:

I hated my freaking life.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

The days ran together.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

The weeks ran together.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

A document appeared, I wanted to die, I toggled to "host", typed 10-digits and hit enter.

Remind me why I didn't do the MLM program?

Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I'll tell you why I didn't do the MLM program.

#Inc #Entrylevel #dataentry #settling #experience

Minneapolis, MN 55412

  • Facebook Social Icon
There's always something to do.
Learn
Teach
Trade

Create  your  future 

© 2019 Ry Edwards.  All rights reserved.