Stuck in the Middle
For years I’ve been wandering around from job to job looking for my niche. I’ve had a lot of JOBS but I haven’t yet found anything worthy of a CAREER. Then at the end of last year I discovered the hospital administration industry. Not the medical administration, but the actual buildings and equipment and logistics side. This was an industry that combined all of my passions and skills into one and as soon as I had the opportunity I applied for a position within the local hospital system. Then my niece had her medical crisis and the holidays happened and life flipped upside down.
I didn’t get the job, and I was briefly discouraged, but not deterred. I’ve spent the last three months diligently pursuing other opportunities. Finally I got in to an industry recruiter's office and she found a job that she was sure I would be a good fit for. I went though all of the preliminary interview processes and everyone spoke very highly of me and how I would be great at the job, but then I got to the final interview were I had to sit down in the board room with the head of the department and chat face to face.
I knew the moment I walked into the room with the supervisor that I was not going to get the job. Not only was I about five inches physically taller than the guy, but he had very guarded and insecure mannerisms during the entire interview. He didn't even walk me out, but had a secretary do it. As expected, the next day my recruiter called me and delivered the news that the department "loved my drive and initiative. They found my educational credentials impressive, but they didn't think I would be a good fit."
Not going to lie, I was really frustrated with that response. Even my recruiter was surprised since it was a temp to hire position and they hardly ever turned down an applicant that passed all of the other prescreening. I don't eve know what "you wouldn't be a good fit" means. I've turned down six other job offers because I know exactly what I'm looking for, but apparently the people in the industry don't think I belong there. EVEN THOUGH I HAVE THE EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND, DRIVE AND INITIATIVE THAT THEY ALL SWEAR THEY WANT/NEED IN THEIR EMPLOYEES.
Doubling my frustration is my inability to move into a higher ranking leadership position at my restaurant. I talked to my boss and explained that I would be finished with my undergrad next Winter and asked what I needed to do in order to start the process of continuing my climb up the ladder. Never got an answer other than "well we'll see what happens when... *ahem*... you graduate." Like I'm going to wash out or something in the next year and a half. They don't actually have room for me on the leadership team right now, which is why I was willing to work my way up slowly if necessary, but they won't even give me the opportunity to do that. My boss said: "Well you need to display more leadership qualities." even though I have a key and an alarm code, and have been running the produce side of the restaurant (greatly eliminating our waste btw) for months. Crew members come to me and ask for manager codes and keys literally every shift. My direct supervisor lets me run my produce however I see fit and yet... these are somehow not "leadership" qualities. You know who has received promotions though? 18 year old single kids who have nothing better to do other than living at the restaurant 60+ hours a week. When they hired me they told me it was a great place to work because of how family oriented they are. Well that may be the case as a.... whatever the hell I am, but apparently I have to sell my soul to the restaurant if I want a salary management position which is exactly what I want to AVOID by investing in my education.
To be clear, if I was starting a new job I wouldn't mind putting in extra hours or effort to prove myself as a hard and competent worker. When I've been somewhere for four years and have been bestowed responsibility without the formality of a title; then suddenly it becomes a problem when I request the title... no. That does not make me want to invest any more time or effort in the job outside of my normal duties and responsibilities. I am willing to put in the work if I get the reward at the end. I am not willing to waste my time in a dead end job with empty promises.
But somehow, both of those things, makes me a poor candidate for a job opportunities and I don't know how to fix it. I'm not going to stop doing well in school, and I'm not going to quit putting in applications for other jobs with more opportunities, but if I keep getting through all of the other prescreening only to be denied jobs at the final interview I think I just may figuratively explode with frustration. Most of my adult life I was denied a decent wage and career opportunities because I hadn't furthered my education. Now, that I have continued my education, not only that but EXCELLED in my educational endeavors, I'm STILL being denied a decent wage and career opportunities because I am now "too ambitious."
So what is it? Where is the "right" amount of ambitious? Where is the "right" amount of drive to over come obstacles and challenges? Where is the "right" amount of initiative to get things done, and how do I display "leadership" qualities if I never get the opportunity to have additional responsibilities? How do I know if the industry I am suited for is the "right" industry for my career if I can't even get my foot in the damn door? It's not like I'm studying a highly specialized niche field. My degree can be applicable to pretty much anything I set my sights on. Of course, I have to get hired first. That is proving to be more challenging than I anticipated.
I never planned to get a great job as soon as I graduate. That's why I'm trying to start now so I have time to get established and work up to the 9-5 office job with a salary large enough to pay my loans comfortably. Even if I don't ever get out of my current job I can pay my loans, but that is not my goal. I will meet my goal one way or the other, but it's still frustrating being stuck in the middle. Too qualified to earn a spot in the restaurant industry and not qualified enough to get out.