The Story Of My Worst Job Ever: Part Three

This is the third part of the story about my worst job ever.  It started off as one post, but writing it got to be so long (and so therapeutic, even though these events happened seven years ago) that I decided to break it up.  In the first part we talked about the process of finding and getting the job.  Yesterday in part two we talked about how things only went down from there after some ‘changes in plans’ from when I was hired.  When we last left, my frustration was to the point that I was kicking a computer bag in the middle of Staples.

Back To The Story

After the junior audit confusion, I was put back on to lead duty.  One of the things auditors will do is re-audit something that had been audited in the past where improvement was needed.  I was given this assignment, and found that the original audit from several years prior had been done by none other than Bridgette herself.

I felt that this was great news.    I looked at the areas that were identified in the previous audit which needed attention and pulled them into my plan.  In addition, I did a great deal of research and pulled in other best practices.  In short, the scope of my proposed audit was probably double what she had done in the past.  When I met with her to outline my plan, I was confident that she would be impressed.

Which was a mistake, because of course she wasn’t.  She said that I didn’t go deep enough in scope. When I pointed out that it went further than the previous audit (not mentioning that it was hers) had gone, as well as that it brought in points tied to industry standards, she merely brushed it off.

At that point…

I Gave Up

That’s right.  I knew that no matter what I did, I was not going to please this woman.  She made it clear that her impression of me was already set and there was nothing in the world I could do to change her thoughts about me.

It was around that time where I did actually start looking around for a new job.  I also started opening up a little bit to my fiancé and she started getting a glimpse of how bad it really was and the depths of my unhappiness.

I proceeded with the audit but my heart wasn’t in it.  I knew there was no future there for me and when I came to work and had an appointment later that day for a ‘Review’ meeting, I pretty much knew what it was all about.  I went around and said my goodbyes to a few colleagues and even packed the things that would go with me into a pile from my cubicle.  Sure enough, they outlined my separation package and came in with my box of stuff.    I had worked there for nine months.

The Aftermath

When I told my parents and told others that I had been let go, they were shocked.  Looking back, the reason is that I hid so much of what I was really going through.

And I did this because I didn’t want to admit that I was failing at this job.  Whether it was my fault or the fault of the company (I take responsibility for some of my shortcomings, so I put  the blame on both elements), I had never failed at a job before.  I’d always been thought of as a hard worker, someone who learned, and someone who was a top-tier team member.  Suddenly, I was none of those things, so I had simply buried it until I no longer could.

In the end, it turned out to be a blessing.

Things went as good as they possibly could.  When I left that job, I was broken.  Yes, I was relieved that I no longer had to go to a place where I clearly didn’t fit and wasn’t contributing, but I also had to deal with the fact that I had failed.  Having not failed in a job to this degree ever before, it was gnawing.  It made me wonder, how would I ever even find a job, and once I did, how could I have the confidence that I once did?

Had it been taken away?  I really didn’t know for those first couple of weeks after ending this nightmare.

The Happy Ending

I started a new job search, and I wasn’t sure where things were going to go.  This was 2006 and the market in Michigan was already starting to soften quite a bit, as we were the first state into the great recession.  It had taken me over four months to land this job nine months earlier when the market was better, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

But, fate was with me.  I started instant messaging (no Facebook or LinkedIn yet!) with someone who had worked for me a couple of years ago.  He was working for a company that had project manager openings for a big project.  He gave me a referral and I got a call the next day after e-mailing my resume.  It was a contract position, which I’d never had before, but the contact there was great, and he got me in for a face to face interview, and I immediately hit it off with the manager.

This time, I made sure I met the qualifications (I did), and I made sure I would be working for the manager that actually hired me (I would).   We hit it off and less than six weeks after being let go from the worst job ever, I was working again.  This is not something I would have ever guessed would have happened in my wildest dreams on the day that I was let go.

On top of that, the job was a perfect match for me.  I fit right in.  I immediately contributed and was recognized as a solid team member.

In short, it was the perfect job for many reasons, but the most important is simple:

I got my confidence back. And, wow, did that feel good.

No, it felt GREAT!

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The Story Of My Worst Job Ever: Part Two

Here is the second part chronicling my worst job ever.  This job was not only a bad job because it didn’t work out, but it came pretty close to destroying a lot of parts of me that I have built over the years that led me to be successful at many jobs before and after.  This job almost killed it.

Yesterday, I talked about how I came to get the job,  including the interview process and the confidence that I could succeed even though I didn’t have the exact match of qualifications.

My First Day (aka The Day I Should Have Realized I Was Screwed)

My first day came and I was excited.  The job was in a cool building, I was learning something new and I was ready to kick butt.  I was looking forward to getting re-acquainted with the manager I’d interviewed with…and I did.  For exactly one day.

He met me, brought me upstairs, showed me my desk, then explained that in the three weeks since my interview, he’d taken a lateral move and was now running a different group.  The infrastructure group was going to be run by someone else, who I had never met before.  We will call her Bridgette.

Upon meeting Bridgette, she was all business.  She wanted nothing to do with hearing about my past, and wanted me to get started.  She knew I had no auditing experience, which she didn’t really have much concern with, but she didn’t have much concern either with making sure I learned the ropes either.

The way it had previously been explained to me was that, even though I was a lead auditor, I would be teamed up with a lead auditor on at least 1-2 audits, the first one where I would be a junior auditor, and the second where I’d be a co-lead.  Bridgette wanted no part of this.  In fact, she told me that one of the other leads had given his resignation, so I needed to get with him, pick his brain, and get all the information so that I could pick up his audit.  She felt that would be enough to get me ‘up to speed’.

The other lead auditor already had one foot out the door and basically spent about fifteen minutes handing over a couple of file folders and giving me a list of phone numbers.  After that, I was on my own.

Not the first week I’d been hoping for.

Predictable Failure

Needless to say, that audit didn’t go all that great.  Bridgette met with me regularly and couldn’t seem to understand why it was I wasn’t getting the basics.  I tried explaining that I was supposed to have been given more time to learn the process, but she wasn’t really interested.  At that point, I probably should have realized I was screwed, but in the past, I’d been given the ‘dive in and sink or swim’ treatment when it came to new technologies, and I always picked it up just like that.  I figured I could do the same with this.

The problem was that I was able to do that because technology came a lot easier to me than learning a new process.   I didn’t realize this at the time, but if I would have, I probably would have started looking for other jobs and just taken the loss.

But I didn’t.

I kept on.

The Second And Third Act

By this point, Bridgette had already likely made up her mind on me.  So, shame on me for not realizing that I wasn’t going to make this work, but shame on her for not being a good manager and saying ‘Hey, I just don’t think this is for you’.

But she didn’t do that.  Because she was the devil.  At this point, I had gone of being fearful of her yet trying to please her to simply believing that was awful.  I hated going to work because it meant seeing her.  When she came in (I got in first) and I heard her coming, it sent a feeling of dread upon me that lasted the rest of the day.  It wasn’t healthy.

She assigned me as a junior auditor on the next audit.  I was given all my goals and I did them.  When she reviewed me at the end, she wanted to know why I didn’t step up and take more of the lead’s responsibilities.  I told her that I wasn’t the lead, but apparently it was assumed that I would co-lead, even though it was made perfectly clear that there was only one lead.

Interlude

Bridgette had this computer case that was bright pink.  I have no idea why as she had none of the cheerfulness associated with someone who loves pink.  Still, she had it.  One day we were looking for a birthday gift for my father-in-law and he wanted a new computer bag, so we went to Staples.  While we were looking, I spotted the same bag that Bridgette had, and I started kicking it.  Right there in the store.

My then fiancé (she still married me, can you believe it?) actually had to pull me away from kicking this computer bag.

See, what I realize now is that this job was eating at me.  It was taking the image I had built of myself as a successful, confident person, and it was being torn apart, bit by bit.  I can say this now, but at the time, I wouldn’t admit it.  Not even to myself.  If my fiancé or parents asked how work was going, I would always answer positively.  Same with friends.  I couldn’t even admit to myself that it wasn’t good.

I’ll wrap up tomorrow with the inevitable conclusion and some of the lessons learned, as well as see how things turned out in the grander scheme of things.

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