I’ve been on vacation since 12/22/07 and now I face “The Grind” of work today. One of the things I love about time off is that it allows you time to reflect. You know, where you’ve been, where you’re going, and what’s worth striving for in terms of career, personal goals and the like. Sure, we are supposed to do this on New Year’s Day when we resolve to do certain things and vow not to do others. I suppose I’m not immune to the pressure to jump on the bandwagon and look back at “the year that was” and figure out if I want to continue down the road I’m on.
In my career, the answer is “no.” It’s been gnawing at me for a long time, and it’s the sense of frustration at not being able to realize my career goals I set for myself over 10 years ago. I know, “boo hoo.” Who doesn’t have regrets about how things didn’t turn out when it comes to work. Most of us have jobs that we take to pay the bills. Some of us have jobs that pay the bills and we generally like what we do. While still some of us do what we love, but have a hard time paying the bills. I was in that last boat in 2004, and am in the first boat right now.
Teaching, writing, reading, and researching…that was what I wanted to do and had the chance to do for about 5 years. The problem was that it didn’t pay the bills. Because I was a part time teacher at various colleges, it meant:
1. I had zero job security.
2. I was basically a migrant worker who had to go to the department chair with cap in hand to see if they had any classes they wanted me to teach in the upcoming semester. If they didn’t, I moved on down the line to find work elsewhere.
3. I had zero health, dental, retirement benefits.
4. On a good year, I made less than $20,000 a year for a job that spent tens of thousands of dollars training for.
What kept us afloat was Julie’s job. If it wasn’t for the double whammy of an increase in employee benefit contributions at Julie’s jobs and the fact that I had reached critical mass with career frustration (i.e., no one wanted to hire me for a full time teaching position), I probably wouldn’t be where I am now (i.e., a traffic reporter and public affairs director at a radio station).
But things are kind of changing for me. At work, I applied for a new job, and it looks like I’m going to get it. Also, the local public radio station here contacted me to see if I was interested in being fill-in host for their morning talk show. Both things are big deals in terms of my own personal and career happiness. First off, the new job at work means I won’t have to get up at 4am every weekday morning, and the fill-in gig means that I’ll be able to realize a radio career dream of hosting a show for public radio. Laugh if you must, but if you’re a listener to public radio (NPR) you know that the hosts get to interview interesting people, take calls from pretty bright listeners, and not have to worry about commercial stop sets. In short, one gets time to really explore a topic. I’ll let you know more about it (i.e., when you can tune in and where) as I get closer to the date of the gig.
So while things didn’t quite work out in academia, things are looking a bit brighter in terms of the other career I’ve found myself in. Also, this gig at Pop Dose is turning out to be quite fun. The other writers contributing to the enterprise are all quite awesome. I’m really impressed by the way they cover topics, or the way they turn a phrase. I sure hope this venture evolves the way in which its founder envisions. But for now, we’re in an impressive growth phase with new readers coming to see what “The People at The Pill” have to say about music, politics, books, film, TV, and all that other great stuff that makes our world a wonder to live in.
Speaking of Pop Dose, if you want to check out my latest musings on politics, have a look HERE. And just a reminder that the weekly Mix Six is on Wednesdays at Pop Dose.