Career Talk — Part 1: Most Rewarding Job Experiences

Last week, I posted a call for submissions on a couple of platforms, although notably not on here. Which may have been a silly oversight, so I want to clarify that I am still accepting submissions, as this will be an ongoing multi-post series. Because, in the words of Amy Adams’ character from Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day: “The crisis is ongoing!”

Also, many of the submissions were very detailed and I want to keep these posts to a reasonable length, so each post will be dedicated to a different question on the list below, and when I’m done with that, I’ll hopefully start again from question #1 with new submissions.

The original call/prompt was as follows:

I’m currently at a crossroads in my career, and I’m hoping to write a blog post next week to help get my brain thinking about various different options. I would love to hear from people in any and all professions. If you’re interested, let me know in your comment or via email or message: a) what your job is, b) whether you’d like to remain anonymous, and c) an answer to one or more of the following questions:

1) What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had at your current job?

2) What’s the most frustrating experience you’ve had at your current job?

3) What’s the most helpful or supportive thing a coworker has ever done for you?

4) What’s the worst thing a coworker has ever done to you?

5) What’s the funniest story you have from your current job?

I just came up with these questions so they’re not comprehensive – if there’s a particular work experience or story you’d like to share that doesn’t fit any of them, feel free to share it anyway! This is just an exercise to help me get the gears turning in my brain as I figure out what to do next with my life 🙂

So I’m not expecting this to solve my career stalemate, but at least it will hopefully provide some forward movement in my thoughts on the topic, because the thing about putting things in writing is, you have to move forward with them. You can’t just write the same sentence over and over again. (I mean, you can, and someone probably has, and they probably called it “art” — but let’s be honest, that is crap.)

Let’s get started with the answers, shall we?

(NOTE: Some names may have been changed to preserve anonymity, allowing me to exercise my brilliant pseudonym-making skillz.)

1) What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had at your current job?

Answer #1: Probably developing an app for a department at the school where I work.

You see, the original system they used declared bankruptcy and left them in the lurch as they were applying for accreditation in a few months.

They came to me (who administered the previous system for them) and asked what they could do. As this was in the the middle of the year, requisitioning tens of thousands of dollars was a challenge at best. Also, no system was really available that met their needs- It would be settling and not fine tuned to the needs of the program.

So I asked exactly what they wanted in an assessment system and researched ways we could do it for free (or, very little money). Using some recently learned programming, I wrote an app that filled the parameters of their requests exactly. Excited by the progress, we hired a new PT computer science student to flesh out the app further. Together with this student (who is brilliant, amazing, and dedicated) we worked tirelessly to develop this assessment app, working with occasionally vague direction and goals.

In the end, we met the deadline, the program secured accreditation (yay!), and use of this system has saved the college over $60,000 a year. This is my most fulfilling experience in my work because by collaborating and thinking outside of the box, we accomplished something amazing. We built something from the ground up, without direction. We were essentially told- we need this, can you help us?

~ Submitted by Comm Puter, Instructional Technologist

Wowza, that sounds awesome. I hope they paid you well for that! I don’t anticipate doing something like that in my career, but I did recently get myself invited to Dash, which claims it will teach me the basics of coding, so that’s something.

Answer #2: When students experience that joy that comes from learning something they did not previously understand. Many students who were worried about failing come back and compliment me on helping them to pass their classes.

~ Submitted by R., a professional tutor

Yeah, I’ve never wanted to be a teacher (both my parents are teachers and if hearing about the realities of that profession from the time you were born until the present day doesn’t make you never want to be a teacher, well, then you just haven’t been listening) but I’ve never been against the idea of one-on-one tutoring. The problem has generally been that whenever I’ve looked into trying to do it through any kind of organization, they want to know what my qualifications are and that I’ve done it before and how much and what subjects, and I haven’t done any of that in any formal or documented way. Apparently saying “I AM BRILLIANT AND REALLY GOOD AT EXPLAINING STUFFS HIRE ME PLZ” is not enough. I know that the best way to get started would be to tutor kids of people I know who already trust me, buuuuuuut…I don’t really like a lot of those kids? So I don’t want to do that to myself? I know, I can be more selective if I become more established, but the beginning would probably be a long hard slog.

Answer #3: I absolutely love my job. There is always a juicy story or something interesting that comes in the door. There are happy and sad stories. I’ve told a patient that she is finally pregnant after she was having fertility issues for 3 years. I’ve told a patient she has endometrial cancer and had her cry at my desk. I’ve even told a 43 year old that SURPRISE she is pregnant, and she tells me her daughter is 20 and she was in shock. I’ve had Muslim patients come with their husbands and have to ask permission from them to get procedures done with the male doctor. I’ve told people they have STDs and they cry because they think their spouse is cheating on them. And yes even when someone comes for a routine pap or yeast infection, I can provide that relief. I like talking to all types of women and having a small glimpse of the most intimate part of their lives.

I also like working in gynecology because it’s easy for me. Its a limited field of medicine (unlike internal medicine or primary care) so its easy to become an expert in it pretty quickly. Being a physician assistant in general is great because if I ever get super bored of doing my 140th pap smear that week, and get sick of gynecology I know that I have options to switch jobs to another field of medicine like dermatology, orthopedics, or surgery etc. so i don’t feel locked in for life.

~ Submitted by Elisheva N., physician assistant in a private gynecology practice

I definitely love collecting stories and learning about people, and being in a position to build them up when they’re hurt or vulnerable. In fact, that’s the main reason I was instantly compelled by the mission of a certain non-profit organization that I came across this week, RevealNYC — it’s an organization dedicated to providing support, fashion, and cosmetics to women who have been victims of domestic violence, to rebuild their confidence, give them practical life skills, and help them feel beautiful again. I intend to get in touch with the organization and see if there’s anything I can offer. Though it is a volunteer-run non-profit and would not solve the career or money dilemma.

Becoming a PA would require me to go back to school, which I’m not interested in doing at this point, but theoretically might be later, so it’s nice to know that it’s versatile if I should decide to put myself through that.

Answer #4: What’s so rewarding about what I do is the client interaction and hearing how happy my clients are when I do my job and make their programs successful and profitable and help them reach their goals. I’ve also set out to make an impact at my company in terms of training and best practices and my boss has entrusted me with creating an entire company-wide training manual all by my lonesome. I took that as a huge compliment to my ability to not only do my job to the best of my ability, but be able to set the standard company-wide for how it should be done.

~ Submitted by Boss Lady, marketing

Positive reinforcement is definitely important for me, too. It’s not quite on the level of Rachel Berry: “I am Tinker Bell! I need applause to live!” — but it’s extremely helpful. As is feeling like I bring something of my own to the table that no one else is already providing.

MY ANSWER: At my recent auto mechanic job, I didn’t feel like I was much of a contributor. Yeah, I did a lot of things, but they often felt like things that anyone else there could do, and do faster (the other mechanics often told me so, maybe sometimes as misguided attempts at motivation, maybe sometimes as a macho thing, whatever) so I often felt redundant at best and like gunk in the machine at worst. Sometimes customers would give me tip money after I’d worked on their cars, but generally I felt like those were Changing A Tire While Female tips, not tips that I’d actually earned.

However, there was one tip that I did feel like I earned. It happened when this lady walked into the shop and after looking around apprehensively, she quietly asked how much an inspection would cost.

“Thirty-seven dollars,” I said, because I’m a decent human who gives straightforward answers to nervous customers.

“Two hundred dollars,” said the mechanic next to me, because he’d evidently decided to be a buttface.

The woman looked from him to me and back, clearly confused. “How much?”

“Two hundred dollars,” said the other mechanic, because nothing makes a bad joke funnier than repeating it.

“It’s thirty-seven dollars, “ I repeated firmly, looking the woman in the eye. “Don’t listen to him; he’s lying.”

She thanked me and went out, brought the car in with some dude who could have been her husband or brother or boyfriend or friend, and the obnoxious mechanic ran the inspection. The car failed the inspection after we hooked up its computer to ours and ran the program.

Obnoxious Mechanic broke the news to her and her companion, and he then incoherently began explaining to them why it had happened, and why they needed to drive the car around some more and come back later.

I could see that he was only confusing them more, so I butted in and broke it down into more user friendly terms, because this was one area that I actually could explain pretty well: the car’s computer runs self-diagnostic tests on itself while you drive, and we get that information from the computer when we hook it up for the inspection. Sometimes the car hasn’t been driven enough or under the right conditions for all the self-tests to run, and that causes the inspection failure. But driving the car for an hour, making sure to include highway driving, should be enough to get all the tests to run.

They paid him for running the inspection, and then the lady came up to me specifically and gave me a dollar tip.

It’s hanging from the ceiling in my room, my one memento on display from this job.

dollar pic

Up next: Most Frustrating Job Experiences! Stay tuned!

______________

Like this post? I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you, wonderful reader, that my GoFundMe campaign is still open — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive. The proceeds no longer go toward automotive school tuition, because I have paid off my loan in full, but you can still commission me to write anything you want. You can force me to watch ANYTHING and review it for you. Anything. Real-Housewives-of-Atlanta-kind-of-anything. Hit me with your best shot.

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