Where Logic Meets Love

For Love of a Job

Friday, November 5, 2010

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For Love of a Job | Faith Permeating Life
It's a typical hypothetical question: Which is more important to you, the work that you do or the amount of money you make?

I've always believed that, given the choice, the work I did would be more important, but I hadn't been actually confronted with the choice before today.

Things at work lately have been fabulous. I have been deluged with surveys to design, data to graph, and focus groups to run. I'm diving headfirst into learning everything I can about infographics (a.k.a. information design a.k.a. data visualization) to help me translate the data I have into meaningful terms for the departments using them. My downtime is nonexistent, and I'm thrilled.

The only downside to this setup is that what I'm actually doing bears no resemblance to my job title or job description. (I'm still doing most of the things I was hired to do, I'm just doing a ton more on top of it.) I'm having trouble getting leverage to take on some projects I want to take on because of my job title, and there's no question that my entry-level salary doesn't match the skill level for the work I'm doing. The only reason I'm able to do so much of this work that I love is because I have awesome bosses (the people I officially report to) who have re-delegated some of my more mindless tasks, and an even awesomer pseudo-boss (the guy I don't officially report to but who provides me with all this work that I love).

My pseudo-boss and I have recently been pushing to get my job title changed, which due to all sorts of institutional factors and rules and whatnot is incredibly difficult. So when I was presented an opportunity that I thought was going to finally lead to this job title change, I was completely caught off-guard by what it actually turned out to be.

Without going into too much detail, I discovered that one of my (actual) bosses was pushing for me to be considered to fill a higher-level, higher-paying version of the job I was hired to do. The job that, for the last year, I have been slowly getting away from doing.

I get it. I'm not being paid for the skills I have, and that really bothers her. It just completely caught me off-guard because I am finally so happy with the work I'm doing, I'm thrilled to go to the office every day, and I feel like I'm making a difference.

I'm not looking for prestige. If I had to choose between being a low-level data analyst and having a high-level position where I got to go to fancy lunches and get paid lots of money, you can bet I'd be most content in a basement in a pair of jeans sifting through a 1,000-row dataset in SPSS. Not that I'm choosing between either of these options, exactly. I just know what makes me happy.

For me, this was a eye-opener that after I've been doing this type of work more and more over the course of the past year, she still doesn't understand how much I love it. And really, honestly, I'm not sure I fully grasped how much I loved it until I was presented with an opportunity that would take me away from doing all of it.

The difficulty, of course, is that insisting on the status quo means continuing to do work I'm not supposed to be doing, with the wrong job title and job description and salary, and only by the grace of the people I work for. Far from ideal. But you know what? As long as I'm allowed to keep spending my days playing with data, I'm sure as hell going to keep doing it.

1 comment:

  1. I always thought crunching data would be fun. Or designing databases. Or designing databases to work with website forms.

    But right now, I'm very satisfied with coding webpages. In my free time. At work, I Xerox.


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