Twitter / atb20

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

the careerwoman wars

i decided it was time to trot out a new banner because though i loved it dearly, the old one just reminded me how fickle april is (sunny and 70 one day, rainy and 30 the next). now i'm thinking happy thoughts, happy thoughts.
so, i was catching up on some of the blazing comments from dooce's post on letting leta "cry it out", and i realize how self-righteous people can be about their personal parenting decisions. i guess this is one of those battles that you don't really feel the heat of until you step into parenthood... thank goodness.

since i have no part in the well-touted "mommy wars," i thought i would bring up a little battle that's waging on inside of me... though i must admit it's far less interesting since both sides of me are somewhat blase about the whole thing. over dinner the other night my father asked me if i wanted his help finding a job after i graduate. as many of you know, my father is not a social worker, so he does not mean a job at a local hospital or clinic. he's a real estate guy, so he means a job in real estate. why would he suggest such a thing? because when he mentioned it once before, i didn't refute it outright. for him, this was an opening for me to live up to my potential as a "business woman" -- whatever that is. so, once again, caught off gaurd, i say something noncommittal like: i don't know. what kind of job are we talking about?
his response: well, whatever you find interesting... you could do something like marketing, but that doesn't pay very well.
moosk: what's "not very well"? what... would the starting salary be $50K? $60K?
dad: (look of bafflement) well, no, you'd make more than that. but if you did investing you could make a lot more.
me: like?
dad: like probably around $125K...
me: (absorbing the concept of moosk making a 6-digit salary) what would the hours be like?
dad: like what your brother was working... 9-9/10.
me: (realizing that i'm well out of my league) ok. so, what's "investing"?

clearly, the conversation didn't lead to a job offer, but it did make me question everything i believe in. i left theatre to do something meaningful, something interesting, and real estate investing sounds about as interesting as watching toenail fungus grow. (my brother later confirmed this). marketing could be more interesting and would have shorter hours but it would still be a stretch to call it "meaningful." additionally, when i asked my dad how many working mothers he knew of in the business who had a good work-life balance, i received a blank stare in return. not very encouraging. so, why am i still thinking about it? i know that social work is interesting... incredibly difficult and painfully underpaid, yes, but very meaningful and very interesting. why do i have to choose?

my career priorities in order of importance:
1) reasonable work schedule (i.e., time to sleep, time to see my man, and eventually a flexible-ish schedule that can allow for parenthood)
2) interesting content
3) reasonable wage (i.e., i no longer have to beg money off my parents)
4) meaningful work (who knew it was so far down on the list?)

is that too much to ask? hrm... i guess i will have to continue mulling... advice is always welcome.


Cartooniste said...

I wonder at the seperation between "interesting content" (at number 2) and "meaningful" (at number 4). The question is, will you be able to muster interest in or excitement for something that you don't think is important? I guess it depends on how you define important. I just look at some of the questions that MBA Jackass has had to answer (with a straight face!) and wonder how anyone survives in the business world without snorting loudly and saying "Whaddaya, kidding me?" in response to everything. Clearly I've been in academia too long, and should never be let out of the house.
But then there is the student financial pressure. In New York City, no less.
I don't envy you, Miss Moosk. It's a tough position you are in.

moosk said...

it's true. the distinction between interesting and meaningful isn't completely clear, but i guess i feel that something creative would be interesting without feeling really meaningful. then again, i realized that the more meaningful your career is, the more that is riding on it (i.e., human lives vs. whether your boss will make a mint) and therefore the more inherently stressful it is. at this point i think i might pursue both routes and see where they lead.

Anonymous said...

Perspectives are funny: I've always thought of writing books as one of the most meaningful things to do. Same thing for movies, plays, what-have-you. . . .

One more for your list of must-haves (look! corporate-speak!): intelligent coworkers. It's easy to overlook this in academia, but after my first 3 years working, I was incredibly grateful to get back to people with large & well-exercised brain cells. This is probably the number-one contributor to my happiness in corporate-land.

I can't define "meaningful," much less the difference between that and "interesting." Wish that weren't the case, but it's true. . . . I've tried. It's hard.