Work

Money Versus Happiness

When we’re younger, we are always told we can be whatever we want to be. You usually don’t hear young boys and girls list jobs like accountant, secretary, plumber, or retail manager. (I’m not knocking those jobs but they just aren’t as exciting as ballerina, superhero, or movie star.)

When you’re younger, you don’t envision yourself sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Even as old as college, this usually isn’t what we envision for ourselves.

We imagine that we’re going to have exciting jobs. Our passions will turn into careers. And these careers will provide us with enough money to travel, buy a home, and eat out to dinner whenever we want.

Somewhere along the way, usually when we spend months after graduation sending out our resume to every business within 100 miles of us, we realize that our passion does not always lead to money. We’re not all going to make it as YouTube stars reviewing cookies for a living. (I’m not hip to the latest YouTubers so I’m not sure if this is actually a thing but I wouldn’t be surprised.)

While the 9-5 jobs aren’t glamorous, they have their benefits. They provide a steady paycheck and health benefits. If you’re lucky, you may even land a job that will automatically set you up with a 401K or some other retirement fund.

I spent one long weekend in the summer going on 5 interviews in New Hampshire and Vermont. I was desperate to leave my current position. I spend at least an hour in traffic each way. I like less than half the people I work with. And I am not a huge fan of the patrons who frequent my library. There are a few nice ones but most are rude.

I wanted to get out of my current job and get out of New York City.

I had a goal in mind. I wanted to be the director of a small branch somewhere up in the mountains. I’d live in a small town where everyone knew each other and I could spend my weekends hiking and going to the local farm. Basically, I wanted the complete opposite of New York. I wasn’t happy where I was so I was determined to make a change.

I started applying for jobs in New England and soon began getting call backs. I was lucky enough to squeeze several interviews in a short span of time.

My last interview of a very long weekend was at this little branch in the middle of nowhere in Vermont. It was for a library director position and if hired, I’d be the only full-time employee. The rest of the library consisted of part-timers and volunteers.

When I was in library school, this library was where I imagined working. It was a small town. (I’m talking population of less than 5,000.) I would be the sole person in charge of this little library that needed a lot of help. The Trustees were working on a plan to expand the library and bring it to the 21st century. The library needed a lot of help. The bathroom was in the basement and the only way to get there was down very steep steps. No elevator. And there was no access to the building except for several steps leading to the front entrance. No ramp.

There were a whole slew of people in the town who couldn’t use the library simply because they had no way of entering. I instantly fell in love with the little town and the adorable old ladies who interviewed me. I was ready to take on the task of rebuilding this library.

So I was elated when they called me the day after the interview to offer me the job. Here was my chance to fulfill all my librarian goals. This  was what I went to school for.

Then I was given the full offer and my heart dropped.

You can imagine a library that cannot even afford a ramp does not have much of a budget. I knew that the salary wasn’t going to be great, I just wasn’t expecting it to be so bad.

They offered me $30,000/year with no health benefits and 5 sick days to kick in once I was working for a year. I knew it wasn’t them being cheap. They were offering me everything they possibly could, but sadly, it wasn’t enough.

I knew I would have been happy there. I definitely would have enjoyed that job a lot more than the library I work for now. And I would have loved working in rural Vermont much more than Brooklyn.

But in this case, I had to choose money over happiness. Sure the cost of housing is cheaper in Vermont than Brooklyn but not much else would be less. I’d still have to eat every day and pay my student loans every month. And now I’d have to add an additional bill of health insurance since the job didn’t cover it.

I had to reluctantly turn down the offer. I still haven’t given up hope that I’ll find my dream little library. I’m just hoping to find one that’s slightly better funded.

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Confession: I am a Fraud

On May 1st, I started a new job. I am still a librarian and I still work for the same system, but I got a new title and began working at a different branch.

My new title is Library Information Supervisor. It’s a mouthful but it loosely translates to Assistant Manager of the branch. When the manager isn’t in, I’m the boss. That’s right, someone actually made me in charge of something.

It’s been quite the adjustment. I’m someone who still feels like they’re playing dress up when wearing my interview clothes. A blazer and heels doesn’t feel natural. So starting a job where my title is supervisor has made me feel like a complete and utter fraud.

There have been several occasions at work that have made me want to run away or scream “Don’t come to me. I have no idea what I’m doing.”

  • Anytime someone asks me if they can take a break, I get confused. “Why are you asking me? I don’t care if you take a break.” Then I remember, “Right! They have to ask me cause I’m in charge.” The answer to their break question is always yes.
  • Being a boss bitch is not in my future. I cannot just tell people to do something. I have to always add a “please”  or  “when you get the chance.” I also cannot say no when I’m asked a favor.
  • But I do think I can handle being a boss baby. A boss bitch is in control all the time. She knows what she wants and she goes for it. I imagine a boss baby is a much more tame version of this. I have an idea of what I want and I’m willing to do some things for it. Just do not ask me to ever fire anyone. If I’m responsible for firing, then employees are working for the company for life.
  • Reprimanding someone is almost as bad as being reprimanded. Twice I had to have someone step into my office because we needed to talk. (My office means the real boss’s office because all I have is my own desk.) Having to do this filled me with so much anxiety. Please everyone do your job so I never have to have these conversations. They’re uncomfortable for you. They’re painful for me. No one wins!
  • Patrons suddenly listen to me. Prior to my promotion, patrons never believed I knew what I was talking about.  “What do you mean there are fines for late books at the library? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Let me speak to a manager.” Now when a patron says this, I’m the manager they speak to. There’s something about being summoned by phone to come speak to a patron that gives you an aura of authority. Most of the time I’m just repeating what has already been told to them but NOW they actually listen to me.
  • You cannot hide as easily when you’re a supervisor. I’m not lazy and I do like my job but I will be the first to admit that I like to slack off. I always get my work done on time but there’s a lot of browsing the internet in between. Spending time taking a quiz to determine what  pastry I am (thanks Buzzfeed) was totally fine in my previous position. Between patrons complaining and employees asking to take breaks, I cannot get away with it as easily now.
  • Every week gets a little more comfortable. When I first started my position, I came home every night on the verge of tears. I felt completely overwhelmed and out of my element. Now, the verge of tears happens only every other week. (Progress!) There are some days where I even feel like I know what I’m doing. And when I don’t, there’s always faking it!

Five Months of Being a Librarian

Yesterday I celebrated my graduation. I technically graduated way back in December of 2015, which feels like ages ago, but the ceremony was yesterday. Since I skipped my graduation for my Bachelor’s, I decided to attend this one.

It was mostly a bunch of nonsense. People are still spewing those same you-can-do-it speeches that we all know are bullshit. But I am still glad that I went. It was nice to see all my old classmates and to celebrate one last time one of the best decisions I ever made.

It took me awhile to decide to go back to school. I wasn’t anywhere close to paying off my student loans and the thought of adding on even more debt, made me want to puke. But I knew I wasn’t happy with my current job and needed a change. Books and libraries always fascinated me. Somehow I just knew it was a career I would love. So after doing some research, I took the plunge and went back to school. It was incredibly hard. There were a few times I genuinely did not think I would make it out alive. And I doubled my student loans, but it’s a decision I will never regret.

Going back to school and getting my Master’s in Library and Information Science led me to the best job I’ve ever had. I am one of those rare, lucky people who gets to say she loves her job.

It’s been nearly five months now that I’ve been a public librarian. It’s been a ton of fun and really interesting. Here are some of the things I’ve discovered about being a librarian in just the five short months I’ve been one.

Guys are super creepy about the whole librarian thing – Guys are really serious about this whole “sexy librarian” thing. Dudes, the comments when you find out what I do for a living are not necessary.

The patrons can be really creepy as well – Confidence low? Just become a female librarian and sit at the information desk. I’ve never been hit on more than I have while working as a librarian. Most of the times it’s sweet and someone just giving me a quick compliment, but sometimes it gets really uncomfortable. There is one patron that we all refer to as my stalker. (I could write a whole post just about him.)

I do not care that you haven’t been to a library in ten years and that you never read – When someone finds out what I do for a living, there are two things they tell me: how long it’s been since they’ve been to a library and the last time they read a book.

There are a lot of characters who come to the library – Dealing with the public in general can be an interesting experience but the characters who come to the library take the cake. Five months. It’s only been five months working at a public library and I can already write a book about the people I’ve dealt with. The crazies are inevitable. Free WiFi, free A/C, and no one will kick you out no matter how long you stay. Combine those three things and naturally you’ll have a lot of people flocking to the library.

But overall I love my patrons – I assume every public library has their regulars. The branch I work for is no different. But I have to say that my branch has some of the best regulars, even when you factor in those crazies I was just speaking about. I’ve already developed my favorites and will be so sad to leave some of these people behind if and when I move somewhere else.

The kids are the greatest – The adults can be fine and I genuinely enjoy helping them but nothing beats the kids. I love the kids at my library. They are adorable and so hilarious. And absolutely nothing makes me happier than when I see them getting excited about a book.

I do not spend all day reading and telling people to be quiet – People have this impression that working at a library is a peaceful job. They think I sit all day in silence, surrounded by books, and reading. I may spend all day surrounded by books but nothing else about that description is accurate. I’ve gotten less reading done since I started my job because there is always something I need to do. And you will never catch me telling a patron to be quiet. I encourage noise at my library.

People assume librarians have the answer to everything – The questions I get go far beyond the simple, “Do you have this book?” In fact, the majority of the questions I get have nothing to do with books. People want to know how to get an ID. How to find a job. The travel directions from point A to point B. Travel directions are a big one. One lady came in wanting me to plan her entire itinerary for when she travels to the Poconos.

I will never give up trying to find an answer to your question – But no matter how asinine a question is, I will do whatever I can to get you an answer. And even if I personally don’t know the answer, I will make sure I find someone else you can contact who should hopefully be able to get you an answer.

I use Google A LOT – Here’s a secret that no librarian would care to admit: We use Google and we use it a lot!

Teens are damn near impossible to please – My official title at work is Young Adult Senior Librarian. This means that I’m in charge of maintaining the YA books and also coming up with programs for the teenagers. I’m completely fine with the first part but the second part I’ve essentially given up on. Teenagers are not interested in attending programs at the library. Shocking, I know. Connecting with them in general is a challenge. I’ve finally gotten to the point where they take their headphones off when I talk to them. So baby steps.

It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had – A few weeks ago, a ballpark by the library was having a job fair. We had a ton of people coming to the library that day to use the computers so they can put together and print out their resumes. I spent the majority of the day making library cards for people and helping them figure out how to use the computer. Before the day was over, a few people came back into the library to personally thank the staff for our help and to let us know that they got a job at the fair. My first month of working, I was helping a mom and her 6-year-old daughter find books about kids from around the world. After some research and browsing, I found a book that the child wanted to take home. I went back to my desk and two minutes later the little girl came behind the desk to give me a hug because she was so excited about her book. As cheesy as this sounds, the thing I love most about being a librarian is that I really feel like I’m helping people. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

You Should Definitely Hire Me

Glee Im awesome I have a job interview tomorrow. For a full time position at a library. This is a big deal. I am still in school working to get my MLS degree. Full time positions in libraries for people who don’t have the degree yet are almost impossible to find. So naturally, I am super nervous. Please send good vibes my way! I’m going to need them.

Job interviews are the worst. I always wonder if the people doing the interviewing are as miserable as the people being interviewed. It can’t be enjoyable for them either. And I also wonder if they realize that so much of what’s being thrown at them is bullshit. You’re not getting the true me during an interview. I’m way too nervous and eager to please to relax  and show you what a totally awesome employee I can be. And I am an awesome employee. Ask anyone I’ve worked with. (Except the people at the Applebee’s where I worked for two weeks before quitting an hour before my shift over the phone. Those people probably hate my guts.)

I wouldn’t outright lie on an interview. (I’m way to scared to do that. All those CSI shows have made people really good at finding out the truth.) But when you ask me why I want the job, I’m not going to tell you the number one reason: I’m poor and can’t afford not to work. Interviews are basically just a game. Can I figure out what the interviewer wants to hear and say it coherently? And the interviewer needs to be able to see through the bullshit and decide what’s actually relevant to the job being offered.

Here’s how a real interview would go if I were being honest with the questions being asked:

Why are you leaving your current position? “Well here’s the thing, I’m not 100% sure if I’m leaving my current position yet. That depends on whether or not you are willing to pay me more than they do. If you are, then I’m leaving my current position cause my employers are cheap. If you aren’t willing to pay me more, then I’m not leaving my current position because you’re cheap.

Why do you want to work for us? “I have spent the past week sending out 100 resumes a day. Out of those 500 resumes sent, three people contacted me back and you are the only ones who invited me in for an interview. Beggars can’t be choosy so I’ll work for anyone who’s willing to hire me.”

What’s your greatest weakness? “The first time I got drunk I was 16. It was at a friend’s house party. My friend Pamela and I bought a bottle of Georgi vodka to drink. Yea I’m talking about the vodka of choice for homeless people that you see advertisements for on the back of buses. So my friend and I buy this bottle, bring it to our friend’s house, and proceed to finish the entire thing. When I was in high school, I was lucky I weighed 100 pounds and I decided to spend my first real drinking experience on a half bottle of cheap vodka. As you can imagine, it did not end well. I remember leaving the kitchen while jumping on my friend’s back. The next minute, it was morning and I was lying on the floor, in pajamas, with throw up in my hair. I do not remember anything from that night. March of this year, I went to a wedding. It was on a Sunday so I drove my car to the wedding because I had orientation for a job early the next morning in the city and I didn’t want to get home late. I was all set to be extremely responsible. Well the reception started and all my friends were taking shots and I felt left out. The night ended with my friend driving my car and me puking at least three times in his bathroom. Naturally, I didn’t make it to the orientation the next morning. So what I’m trying to say is that my greatest weakness would be that after 13 years of drinking regularly I still do not have a full grasp on my limit. But I have recognized that vodka is just not for me and that I really shouldn’t mix drinks, so I’m learning.”

How well do you handle pressure and stressful situations? “I deal. I may have a few panic attacks along the way but if you provide me with some wine, and possibly some Klonopins, I should be OK.”

Where do you see yourself in five years? “Oh my God! Why would you ask that? I just told you I have panic attacks! Now I’m slowly doing math in my head and, hold on give me a second…in five years…I’ll be…34! Thanks for reminding me of that! Is the AC on in here? It’s really hot in here, no? Oh boy, five years. 34-years-old. I hope I’m married, or at least in a long-term committed relationship. Dear God, please don’t let that relationship be with a cat. Oh God, definitely not a cat. If it HAS to be a non-human companion, at least be a dog. Um, wow! Five years from now. I don’t know man. I like to live in the moment. Yea! That’s it. I’m a care free individual who lives in the moment and doesn’t worry about the future. I like to focus on the task at hand. How could I get any important deadlines finished if I’m worrying about the next five years? So, um, great question. What’s the next one?”

What is your desired salary? “You’re seriously asking me that? You do realize that’s a ridiculous question that all HR people should throw away forever, right? You’re not fooling me. I know you know how much you’re going to pay me. Now it’s just my job to state an amount that’s within that range. If I go too low, you’re either going to think I don’t value myself enough or you’re gonna pay me that instead of the original higher amount. If I go too high, you’re going to think I’m insane for actually thinking I’m worth that much and immediately tell me to get out of your office. But since you’re asking, my desired salary is one million dollars. Go big or go home!”

Do you have any questions for us? “Actually I do. How much does this job pay and how many vacation days do I get?”

Note to anyone who wants to complain about lazy, ungrateful young workers these days and/or future employers: This entire post is completely ridiculous, and terribly over-exaggerated. I am actually an extremely dedicated worker, with perfect written and oral communication skills, looking for a company where I can truly grow.