Yesterday I did something. Something I swore I would never do. I applied for a job at a place I never wanted to work. Let’s call it Company X.
A little background is needed here. When I was a student in my craft all of my professors worked for Company X. It was seen as the best and most privileged place to work. “Someday,” I was told, “if I was very lucky and talented, I too would have a chance to work there.”
Before this national franchise came to town, the people in my field worked at a variety of local places and each had their merits. Then this gargantuan arrived and all of the “super skilled” workers were absorbed into it as if involuntarily sucked in by an extraterrestrial beam of light. Everyone that worked at Company X oozed propaganda about what a great work environment it was and how decent the pay was and what a supportive environment they had. It was like the popular kids in high school gloating about how great their lives were to the welfare kids (aka everyone not fortunate enough to land a job there).
My problem happened when I articulated I wished to work elsewhere after graduation. It was made clear to me my ambitions were misplaced. Wanting to work anywhere other than Company X – with the bottom of the barrel where my skills and knowledge would never improve – was for people that couldn’t hack it with the big kids. Company X even sent managers to help rate my program’s final exams to decide if any among us had the awesomeness to make it in their internship program. Some of us were plucked up before we had even a day to decide for ourselves where we wished to go.
Just before I graduated Company X had an open house. I went. Who wouldn’t be curious about a company that farts glittered rainbows? (official report from unconfirmed sources) I expected to drive under an obnoxiously large arched Company X logo into a well-lit parking lot that extended for miles. I expected marble floors and classical elevator music. I expected a space with lots of windows, corner offices, motivational posters on the walls and a throng of smiling workers ready to thank me for coming. Surely once I saw the establishment in all of it’s glory I too would be a believer.
It was none of those things.
The company name was nowhere on the building. The elevator smelled like a large sweaty person and squeaked. Half of the floor that was this company’s office suite was under construction and the other half was a sea of gray cubicles. A bathroom sized room off to one side served as their break room which housed the only window on the entire floor I could find. The window showed a vast concrete wasteland with a freeway passing nearby. Not a tree in sight. Why would anyone rave about working in an old building under renovation where they sat isolated all day in a windowless cubicle? How was this the dream?!
I left that night confident in my decision to seek fortune and fame elsewhere. I would not be brainwashed with the masses into becoming a cog in a corporate machine. For the past decade I have sought out my own path and found gratification in my work. I have not made lots of money, but I have a house and some pets and health insurance. From time to time I even hear a story from an apostate that has left Company X that quietly shares things on the inside weren’t all that great.
All was peachy keen until a few months ago when my partner and I started searching job prospects in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve run into a bit of a situation. I am certified in Texas to practice my profession, but the states along the Pacific Northwest do not reciprocate. It helps that I’ve been doing this for a while and have a resume to prove it, but not having certification could close doors. I looked into the certification exam they use up there – 30% pass rate, $800 price tag and recently busted for corruption.
But…there is a company with offices here and there in the exact place we are looking to move. If I got hired on here, I could transfer there and probably run into less trouble (or no trouble) with the certification shenanigans. And if it’s anything like here everyone who is anyone in the field works there, which could help me cultivate the professional contacts I will need in a new city. And wouldn’t you believe its Company X?
Wish me luck. I think.