Tuesday, April 5, 2016

One Year

Tomorrow marks my one year anniversary at my job.  In some ways it feels like I've been there a long time, and in others I can't believe a full year has passed.  I have learned so much, and in many ways I am very settled.  But there is still so much I need to learn! 

My job is definitely a slow progression.  There are so many layers of what we do, and you have to gradually build upon each layer to fully understand it all.  Each school unit has its own set of data and its own preferences for how that data is used.  They're all separate but sometimes need to be combined for larger initiatives, and when that happens you need to be cognizant of hierarchies and other complications that may arise with such a large batch of data.  Beyond the data end of it, which is still my main specialty, there is the marketing end of it.  That is one area where I'm still learning a lot.  Lately I've done more letter writing, crafting appeals for a few different units.  I love writing, but it is challenging to write in a different style than I'm used to.  Still, my boss has been very pleased with my work.  I feel that this job is a great fit, a surprising combination of my last couple jobs and a great fit for my strengths.  But I'm still learning new things practically every day. 

The end goal is for me to completely take over a few units--to control their marketing plan as it pertains to their fundraising appeals, to report on their success quarterly, and to give them direction for the upcoming year.  But like I said, there are a lot of layers to learn, and until I've dug through them all, it's hard to manage an entire unit.  But I will get there.  Slowly but surely I'm picking up more things, and so far I've done a good job of earning their trust with each additional project.  My closest co-worker is quite a bit older than me, and she's a master of everything as she's been doing it for years and has seen a little bit of everything.  She is extremely stressed out--for good reason--and my presence was supposed to help with that.  Apparently it has, but the pressure has mounted nonetheless in different ways.  I try to encourage her to see what else she can give me that will lighten her load a bit, but I can tell it's hard for her to give up control of projects she has handled for years.  I know how it feels.  I was in that position a bit at my last job when we added another "me" to the department and I had to start pushing off some of my usual tasks so I could take on some new ones.  The breadth of my knowledge and my accuracy in those tasks directly impacted the ease of my job, and giving up control was very, very hard.  So I certainly understand her hesitation.  When you give things up, you lose that omniscient feeling, and it ultimately impacts your confidence in making decisions.  We've taken a lot of baby steps over the past year, but we're getting there.  I could still use more work a lot of the time, but for now I appreciate the ability to take my time and learn.  I have time and patience for tasks that my busier department mates don't, so that's a good thing for the team. 

Overall I hear how happy they are to have me and how happy they are with my work, so one year in all is well.  Today we got the training for our annual review, and while the process itself is always tedious, I feel confident that the feedback will be overwhelmingly positive since that is all I've really heard for the last year of weekly meetings.  And hopefully there will be a little raise in it for me, so that will be nice, too.

Every time I have lunch with my former co-workers, my old job seems farther and farther away.  The work that I was so passionate about and spent so much time doing is just a memory now.  Sometimes it's hard to believe it's been 15 months since I last worked through one of those reports or played with a million-row spreadsheet.  But mentally I feel so far removed from that company, and with each lunch I feel more fortunate to be where I am now.  It's nice that those problems are no longer mine, but I hate that my old boss is still there and stuck in a really awful spot.  That was one of my biggest concerns when I left, and it remains my one regret. 

It's amazing to think that my extended time off is more than a year ago now.  I definitely feel like that time was life-changing.  I miss it like crazy, of course, as it was such a unique experience to be home with Carter and to have time to take care of my home and family like I've always wished I could.  I'm thankful enough for my job that I can deal, but I will probably always miss it.  A little part of me will always dream of that freedom.  But maybe now that we're past the time of year I've been off work (first for maternity leave, and then for unemployment), maybe my mind won't float there as much.  Still, every time Carter talks about how much he wants to stay home with me, I feel a little sad I can't do more for him.

The first few months of this job seemed to take forever because I was waiting to feel comfortable.  It turned out that the second half of the year flew by once I stopped counting the months so closely, and now here we are at a full year.  It doesn't seem like 366 days ago that I sat through my orientation, or 365 days ago that I first walked into that office and saw the lovely flowers my boss left on my desk.  But here we are.  I am certainly in a much better position than I was a year and a half ago.  While I hoped at the time that my dismissal would be a blessing in disguise, there's always that bit of fear that things won't go as planned.  Fortunately, this situation went better than I could have imagined, and I'm so grateful to be where I am.  Happy Anniversary to me!

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