At the interview for my part-time job, the Director made it perfectly clear I was the most unlikely candidate he had ever interviewed. He was impressed by my qualifications and intelligence, but confused as to why I would want to work for him.
“You do realise you’re over-qualified for this position?” he pointed out. “Why would you want this job? Why not find something where you can actually use your degrees?” He then spent the next five minutes trying to convince me not to take the job, but ultimately hired me anyway.
Family and friends were no less confused. When I shared my excitement for landing my first non-freelance job in America, they were ecstatic. As soon as I told them what I planned on doing, the responses were mostly the same.
At first there was the initial shock, followed by the subtle implication that I deserve better; that I am too smart and too educated. Why not go back to payroll, where I can bring home up to $70,000 per year? Or why not apply for a job at a marketing or PR firm, since that’s what I love?
These are all sensible suggestions of course. So let me explain why – for at least the next year – I’ll be disregarding all of them.
One of the main themes I’ve constantly revisited on my blog is freedom: freedom to explore, to make my own decisions, to carve out time for my creative pursuits, and to do what I love for a living. After a year of this, why would I be in any great rush to return to corporate?
The truth is, I don’t need to. I’m 100 percent debt free, and live simply in a 600-square-foot home. This gives me the luxury of passing up on corporate offers to make time for other important things – like travel.
Another reason I deliberately chose a part-time job with few demands is that it leaves me plenty of time and energy to build a career. If I give 40 hours or more per week to build someone else’s company, and someone else’s dream, what will I be left with to build my own? Been there – done that. Hopefully, never again.
Even while working three shifts in two days last weekend, I still found time to dedicate to my hobbies and creative pursuits. I had the creative energy to work on posts like this, to complete assignments for clients, to edit my novels, and to lose myself in a book each night before bed.
As much as I love working on my own business, there’s one thing to be said of freelancing: there’s no such thing as a steady paycheck. I’ve had clients who refused to pay, who forgot to pay, and who tried to pay but then the check got lost in the mail.
Even with the best of clients, workload varies month-by-month and even day-by-day. This makes it difficult to plan ahead for regular expenses, like rent, utilities, and car payments. Bills wait for no man – or woman.
Thus, my part-time job helps me meet my financial obligations every month, while still leaving me plenty of time to do the things I love, with the people who love me.
Another great benefit of my job is the brand. I work for one company that provides a service for another. My employer is the largest in its industry in all of North America; and the client is a Fortune 500 company, occupying a beautiful skyscraper in the heart of the city.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned about doing PR and marketing work, it’s that brands can make all the difference in a résumé. It’s one thing to do IT work at a local office, for instance, but a whole other ball game to be the technician on call for Bank of America or Google.
So should my entrepreneurial ventures prove unsuccessful, I’m building a résumé to be reckoned with.
Along with the prestigious place my employer and their client hold in the marketplace, their business is located in a wealthy part of town. This provides great opportunities to network with gatekeepers to success.
One of the ladies, for instance, recently went from working at the lobby to doing admin work in the office of a prestigious law firm. She met her new employer at her post, in the building.
Of course, I have no intention of being poached anytime soon, but making the right connections is an integral part of growing in any industry. Who knows? If I play my cards right, I could land my own Fortune 500 client, so I can put my feet up and relax.
People will no doubt continue to puzzle themselves with my decision. Some may even call it irresponsible – and that’s fine. Here’s the reality: I have no kids, no debt, already completed two college degrees, started my own business at 16, and have had the pleasure of watching it grow exponentially over the past year.
In short, I’ve spent the past 27 years doing the things I had to, so that at this point in my life, I can do exactly as I like.
How’s that for a measure of success?