I wondered if I would incur the wrath of some readers when I decided to write a column for MSNBC.com on people that were happily employed in this economy. Well, I can wonder no more.
My column, published late last night, has already generated a few mean-spirited comments and it’s not even 9 a.m.
One reader named “laid off in LA” didn’t appreciate my piece:
It’s very easy for someone who writes articles for a major website like MSN to read the “positive” side of employment or unemployment. After he or she has been laid off, can’t find work for 4-6 months, loses all of his/her savings and 40% of the 401K, then finally finds a job working longer hours, harder tasks, fewer benefits and for a 50% pay cut…THEN I’d love to see a positive article about the bright side of life and how we’re all doing so great in this wonderful world of ours.
I have to admit, I’m a little superstitious so I never appreciate people wishing me ill will.
But I don’t blame this reader or any reader for being upset. It’s hell being laid off. I’ve been there before. But as a journalist I have to sometimes cover stories that aren’t being covered. In this case it’s the people who are employed out there and who haven’t really felt the impact of the recession on their careers.
Believe it or not, there are quite a few people like this out in the work world right now.
I put out several requests to colleagues, friends, and networking groups to find some of these people, and to my surprise I was flooded with hundreds of responses.
I decided to print some of the responses that didn’t make it in my column here. Not because I’m trying to piss off the unemployed. By hearing from people who are gainfully employed it might give some of you an idea for a career you may want to pursue. Also, positive employment stories can help keep your own drive and hope alive.
It’s a reality — there are many people out there who are still in career bliss.
It’s true, it may not last, but for now let’s look on the bright side…for just a little bit.
*I teach 7th grade Life Science to 200 (give or take) students a day! I work for Nobel Middle School in Northridge (LAUSD). I’ve been teaching long enough that the threats of layoffs are just missing me and short enough that I’m not burned out yet!
Don’t get me wrong, it can be hard, challenging, underpaid, and overwhelming teaching 38-40 kids each period - at times - especially dealing with the nature of 12 and 13 year-olds all day. But those crazy kids are FUNNY!!!
Here’s a recent kid question that made my month!
We were talking about adaptations for survival, like panthers being black so they can easily stalk their prey at night. I see a hand pop-up, “Wait! Miss Ireys! I thought panther’s were PINK!???!” How can you not love your job when you realize as I break into loud laughter with tears forming in my eyes that I’m getting PAID to be in this conversation!
My formula for loving my job:
1. I don’t do the same thing every day (that is the nature of my job after all)
2. I laugh at them as much as possible and don’t sweat it when they laugh at me (as long as respect presides)
3. I stay OUT of the office as much as humanly possible. The politics of LAUSD is far less fun than the teaching of funny young adults.
4. I’m not a pushover or a bully. I have my boundries and as long as you are on the right side of them it’s a great day for all parties.
5. I covet coffee. Students are so aware of this, if I’m having an off day they say, “Miss Ireys? Do you need your coffee? Let me go get it for you.” This makes me like them and the coffee even more!
6. I believe relationships are more important than content. If I can teach them to love learning and not be afraid of me so they ask questions, then when they are no longer my students they have develeoped the skills to learn anything anywhere.
~ Angel Ireys
*Being a wilderness guide is great! I take people backpacking to lose weight in some of the most beautiful places in the world. And if the recession turns into a depression, I’ll be able to continue backpacking in the wilderness at subsistence wages.
*I am a special education teacher outside of Atlanta.
I love my job being a teacher and do feel somewhat secure in it. I teach a Severe/Profound special needs class - my students have IQ’s below 40, some are in wheelchairs, diapers and are tube-fed. There are some budget cuts that will be happening but I feel pretty secure.
*I am a fitness coach especializing in pre and post natal women. These groups make my days, I look forward to them all week. Some of the post partum women come with their darling babies and it fills my heart with joy to share my days with them. I feel honored that these women trust their bodies and their babies to my care and share their pregnancies, births, and motherhood with me. Each time that a postpartum 7 week course comes to an end I can’t but tear up knowing I will miss the moms and the little ones.
I am not worried about the recession. Pre and post natal fitness is still a priority for most women.
*I absolutely love my college advising work, and my admissions consulting practice has been thriving. I enjoy counseling students and helping them
plan for the futures they want. Yes, it’s true that some mothers and fathers are increasingly concerned about education financing issues, but
by-and-large my families are focused on helping to ensure that their students find the schools that are right for them. I am still in touch with
some of my former students (even from the ’80s). One of them came to a recent talk - along with his wife and baby!
~Steven Roy Goodman, college adviser
*I work part time for Hallmark and love my job. I loved it at entry level (RM- Retail Merchandiser) and have now advanced to the next level where I supervise 7 stores and still love it. I work in the Team Walmart division. The job always changes though you have the same duties. Being part time there is a lot of flexibility.
Basically an RM in our division stocks the Walmart stores – Marketside, Neighborhood Market or Super Store. As a TA – Territory Assistant you help at each of the stores as needed and supervise the RM staff at each. Seasons are busy and then you have slower times between. Lots of lifting, need to be a self-started as there is little direct supervision, people skills are a definite plus.
*I love my job. And I’m confidant that my job is secure – and I work for a real estate company!!
I’ve been here almost 10 years; I run all of the marketing and IT (plus some other stuff) for a four office independent real estate firm in Philadelphia. I love it because I’m good at what I do, I work for really nice people, and because I get to do something different everyday. I think my job is secure because the job was sort of built for me, and requires an uncommon combination of skills. Our staff is pretty small so I think we’d try not to lose people, even if we get slow.
~Katey McGrath, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors
*I think what sets me apart from someone else is my commute. I drive 97.4 miles one way to work which generally takes me 2 hrs and I can’t see anyone doing that who doesn’t love their job. I often ask myself why do I love my job so much and the answer is easy, it’s because of my bosses David Hauser (CTO) and Siamak Taghaddos (CEO). They allow me to be myself (if you knew me you’d understand ) where other companies tried to make me into something I’m not. Each morning when I wake up I don’t dread my commute because when I get to work I know that I’ll actually have a good time while being here. The great thing about working here is that unlike other companies we will supply coffee, soda, fruit, and healthy snacks to our employees at no charge, we also have a lunch program here where the company will pay the first $5 for your lunch. We also have a Wii room where we’ll try and get some tournaments going with our Austin branch, I think that this was a great way to bring both offices together.
~Adriano De Filippis, GotVMail Communications
*Working for a smaller bank, we all pitch in and wear a lot of “hats”. This has enabled me to keep growing and expanding my knowledge. I was here before the doors opened and after two years I know how rewarding it is to open a new Bank.
Community Banking is a great profession and I am lucky enough to work with some of the best! Out of my 16 co-workers, I have worked with about half of them at other Community Banks. It is really a family environment in terms of both the clients and co-workers.
I have been very fortunate that the Bank accommodates my schedule. Being a mother and wife of someone who is unable to drive due to vision problems, my time is not always my own. PBofB has always stressed a commitment to Work-Life balance. This commitment has allowed me to focus on my work but also fulfill my family obligations without stress or guilt.
~Susan Ahern, vice president of operations at the Private Bank of Buckhead in Atlanta.
*I love my job and feel secure that it will not go away. I am a recruiter for Allied Telecom. I work a flexible schedule and love the work, the people and the pay.
*I have been an independent insurance agent since 1980. I do love my job. I get to help people unravel the insurance world and put in place the coverages they need, but not more than they need. My clients know they can trust me, and I work hard to earn that trust. (As cliché’ as that sounds!)
I don’t have a time clock to punch in on, and I have my own office with a huge window with a street view. I wave at folks all day as they pass by. When I was raising my kids I had the flexibility to go on field trips and be their camp fire leader. Now that they’re grown I volunteer at the local grade school teaching art to 1st graders. Not many jobs leave time for that kind of fun. I live 2 blocks from my office. Urban living is a blast! When I have appointments within a few miles, and weather permitting, I ride my electric scooter. (See www.goped.com) No parking fees, no gas emissions.
According to my Meyers Briggs personality type, I was born an extrovert, and I’m in a job that requires that I get out there and talk to people. A perfect fit.
While not recession proof, last year was my best year ever. I did have to work harder, and this year may be even more challenging. But, I’ve weathered many cycles and will get through this one.
*I really love my work, and although we are in pressing times, I feel confident that we as a company will overcome most of the recessionary pressures.
~Jeff Pelletier, marketing manger for Petra general contractors
*I do love my job. We are a very small non-profit dedicated to education, awareness and advocacy of ovarian cancer. There is no test for ovarian cancer, so awareness is the best defense right now.
Three women work in our office. The executive director, Bonnie Donihi, our admin, Marsha Boesch, and me. We all have a great working and personal relationship. My boss is of the mindset that family comes first. I have three children, and can arrange my schedule around their school days off, Scout meetings, tennis matches, etc. I log in from home quite often. As long as everything gets done when it’s supposed to, Bonnie is ok with that.
As far as job security, anyone in the non-profit sector has to be a bit worried in this economy. We are about on par with donations compared to previous years, so that makes me feel pretty safe. I know that as long as Bonnie is executive director and we have the funds coming in, I’ll have a job.
I know I could probably go other places and earn more money etc, but the amount of flexibility I have here is invaluable.
~Carol Dierksen, Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida
*I love my job at the chocolate factory! Even in this rough economy, people still need their chocolate. I have the pleasure of sharing, eating and talking about chocolate all day. I think this job is right up there with flower delivery in that you get to make people smile all day long. Yes, the economy is affecting our business, but I embrace each day, knowing that chocolate will bring smiles to people who need something to smile about!
~Brooke Feldman, Events & Communications Manager, Chuao Chocolatier
I guess Forrest Gump’s mother was right, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”