Friday, October 01, 2004

My work history

Once I decided to leave the teaching profession, I found myself in a difficult position. "I have a degree in math, don't want to teach, what can I do?" Sadly, in Miami, this question has few answers. At least my degree was relatively marketable. When I started college, I wanted to major in mathematics education. A counselor told me, "Math is usually a critical shortage area. When you apply for a job, if there's a lot of applicants they are going to hire someone with experience whether you have an education degree or not. If there aren't many applicants, they'll hire you if you have a degree in math and let you certify later." On his advice, I changed my major to math, and I've never regretted it. He was 100% right; when I applied for a math teaching position absolutely nobody cared that I wasn't certified. In fact, I received multiple offers, all of which included money and time off to complete the state certification requirements. And of course when I decided to leave teaching, I would have been absolutely screwed with a degree in education. With a degree in math, I at least had a few options. To that counselor, wherever you are, God bless you for that great advice.

I took the only job that came my way - as a programmer (I had taught myself) at a small (very small) actuarial consulting firm. That really had nowhere to go, so about a year later I moved to a mid-size firm doing the same kind of work. That firm was bought, which turned out to be good for me. Of course, the company said "No jobs will be lost, blah, blah, blah." Fortunately (as there did turn out to be substantial layoffs), I didn't listen to any of that and dusted off my resume in a hurry.

I ended up being able to make a great move as a result of this; I relocated (I had pretty much milked Miami for all it was worth) and went to work at one of the major players in the HR outsourcing area, working as a defined benefit system analyst. I worked there 2.5 years, earning a couple of promotions along the way, but always doing the same work. Basically, I studied a company's plan and did all the analysis and design for how the calculations were going to be performed. After a couple of years, I was ready for more.

I moved to another major player in the field, as a senior consultant and group manager. This work was a lot less interesting (really, anyone could do it). But there were nice plusses ... travel, client contact, supervisory responsibility, good hours, great office. I loved it! After 2 years, the bomb fell! My boss decided to reassign me to a position I did not want. I told him if he did that, I would quit. I don't know if he thought I was bluffing, or maybe he figured the economy was soft and I wouldn't be able to make good on my threat. Anyway, he reassigned me, so I found another job (had two offers within the month) and I quit.

So now I'm a calculator manager, basically doing what I did at my previous job. Not bad, but I miss the travel and client contact. Mostly, I miss my office, though. But I like what I'm doing now much better, and I'm really good at it (it's not like I had to learn the whole job in a year, since I'd done this exact job before). So hopefully, I can grow here. And they're paying me more than my last employer for a position with less responsibility, so maybe my old boss did me a favor by forcing me to quit. I've been here just under a year; I think if I play my cards right, this job has a lot more upside career potential than my last one.


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