Why I Choose to be Underemployed

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.

Freedom

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.

Entrepreneurship

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.

Safety Net

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.

Résumé Boost

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.

Networking Opportunities

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? 

87 thoughts on “Why I Choose to be Underemployed

  1. If only I’d been this wise in my 20’s. So many people never truly get to where you’re at right now. I discovered the difference between using the words “need” and “want” vs. the word “choose”. Choosing is so much more powerful!

    1. Thank you! Such kind words. I’ll have a big head all day. Wise, he says. Heheheh.

      But I can’t take all the credit. I learned from men in their 30s who gave me priceless advice, and mentored me on how to find happiness within and outside of corporate success. I can’t thank them enough for that.

      Thanks again!

  2. Makes so much sense. Having swapped a teaching ‘career’ for something basic that leaves me time and energy for pursuing what I want, I can relate to everything you say.

    1. Somehow I always thought teaching would be a good route to leave time. It’s a tough job for sure, but summers are free, aren’t they? I’m glad you’re making time for better things though. Welcome to the club! Haha

  3. I can so relate with you Alexis. At this stage in my life, I want to do things that allows be some freedom and time to explore myself. I want to focus on my writing and enterpreneurial side and that needs time. Be happy 🙂

    1. Hi Jacqueline. Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s great seeing so many people say they’re at a similar point themselves. Success can’t be measured in dollars and cents alone. What kind of business are you trying to build?

  4. Good for you and I’m right there with you and feel the same, so I’m not puzzled at all as I am working towards the same. I don’t have kids and was able to pay off all debt, so now I live on a cash only basis. If I can’t afford it, I just don’t buy it. The mortgage is my biggest expense here in the states but eventually I would like to relocate to my roots in Germany. With a house paid off there, I will get by working two to three days a week. And as far as the corporate career goes. Been there done that and been in mgmt. or ran a a store for corporate for many years and sacrificed my time. Never again. All the money means nothing if you can’t enjoy it and work yourself to death. So amazing for you and I’m so happy for you. Hugs

    1. Amazing to see that not only do you understand, but you’re on a similar journey yourself. You’re right, sacrificing all my time for corporate was such a waste for me. I remember working 21 days straight every January for annual tax filing, including overtime on our regular work days. It was crazy. I don’t ever want to go back to that.

      PS. Moving to Germany sounds like a great plan!

      1. Indeed it is and I know you can relate. A move will definitely free up much more creative freedom and that is what it is all about for me these days. To get off of the hamster wheel and to be on nobody’s clock.

      2. I can definitely relate to moving countries to start over and make a new life. As you probably know, I did that last year. I’m sure it will be awesome!

  5. The line I just couldn’t help in falling love over is – ‘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?’
    Loved this write-up Alexis. You are definitely a lady I admire and respect. <3 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I’m glad you loved it. It’s been a few days in the making. I wanted to make sure I was saying what I meant, and meant what I was saying. It’s such a touchy subject for some, and I wanted to make this as honest as possible. Thanks again!

  6. Yes! You go girl. I can relate to what you mean. My sister is constantly hassling me about why don’t I use my degree to get a high paying job as well. My response is I much rather do what I love and get paid for it. My passions are to heal, love, and protect the environment and it’s inhabitants. So I choose to work for grassroots campaigns or nonprofits companies who share similar ideals as me. In my opinion, I feel like I have all the riches in the world now (:

    1. That’s amazing, and a whole other way to make time for the things we love. I’m proud of you. We need more people willing to make sacrifices to create positive changes in the world! 🙂

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