Is this a common thing for people? I’m really starting to feel picked on, but maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should realize that this is just something that happens to people in their careers all the time and I’m just a part of the crowd. But, to be honest, it doesn’t feel like I’m part of the crowd. It feels like I’ve been singled out as the guy who gets transferred from one place to another, no matter what job I’m doing.
I’ve had a lot of jobs in my adult life. More than I’d like to put on my resume. I mean, really, if you were to look at my resume, the longest I was with one company was for four years. I don’t like the fact that it looks like I’ve hopped from one job to another every couple of years. I don’t like the fact that I’ve changed career paths a few times since leaving college. But I’ve been told that’s just what this generation does. Is it an ADD thing? I’ve never really thought of myself as ADD, but maybe, in the long run, I am. It’s not like I get bored with a job and move on. Any time I’ve made a change in the career, it’s because I’ve believed it would be a move that would improve my situation in life.
Anyway, this isn’t about my career choices. This is about the career choices that have been thrust upon me.
Right out of college, I began working for a bank. It was a local establishment in Bluefield with a few branches dotted around the area. The branch I worked at was just down the road from where I was living at the time. It was super convenient, especially when the weather got bad. I got to a place where I really enjoyed what I was doing (ironic, considering my experience in banking years later) and enjoyed the people I was working with. And then, abruptly, I was told that I needed to transfer to the Princeton location. This was super inconvenient, considering it added a 30 minute drive to my commute each morning.
Here’s the thing… I was, technically, a part-time employee with the bank. But they were able to give me full-time hours. Suddenly, when they needed a teller in Princeton, the looked to me and gave me an ultimatum. Either I move or they cut my hours at my home branch. The powers that be didn’t have to give me benefits as a part-time employee. And, if I were to transfer and remain a part-time employee with full-time hours, they still wouldn’t have to pay for me to have insurance. And they also wouldn’t have to hire a new full-time teller and pay for their benefits either. So I transferred. Because I needed the job.
When I came to my senses and left that thankless job, I moved back home to Roanoke. While there, I worked for the Baptist Children’s Home in Salem. I can, thankfully, say that I was never transferred anywhere while working there. Unless you count being asked to cover a different residential cottage from time to time.
During my North Carolina years, I worked for another bank. This one was much larger than the local stint I did after college. This one was, at one time, ranked as the fourth largest bank in the country (I think… I could be wrong on that one). Anyway, I started out at a branch that was pretty close to home. Close enough, in fact, I could go home for lunch if I wanted. And then I transferred to a branch that was in downtown Raleigh. It was a good 45-60 drive depending on traffic. Okay, this one wasn’t the bank’s fault. In my need for full-time hours, I applied for the teller position at that downtown location. So that transfer was really on me.
This brings me back to Virginia, where I took a job with a friend’s father’s furniture company. The man created a position for me, which felt pretty special and seemed like it would be my dream job. My job title was Special Projects Coordinator. The idea was that I would handle press releases, blog posts, website design, social media… things of that nature. From the start, I was also told that the job would entail some sales as well. To be fair, I did let my employer know that sales was the area in which I was weakest at the bank. So after two short months, when my sales (to which I could not devote my full attention) lagged severely behind other salespeople (whose only job was to sell furniture), I was asked if I’d be willing to move to the warehouse to be a delivery driver.
Did I really have a choice? Sure, I had zero experience driving a delivery truck and my upper body strength was laughable at best, but moving furniture… no problem. What was my alternative? This furniture business owner’s little experiment with hiring someone to take charge of these “special projects” didn’t pan out, so I got pushed out. Lost a friend in the process. Apparently this friend didn’t think I had a right to be angry with her father through all of this.
I didn’t stay in his warehouse for long. I took on my counseling job soon after. I won’t name the company I began working for, but I need to distinguish it from the company I work for now. So we’ll just call it One. I started working for One at a school we’ll call A. I’m sorry if this gets confusing, but I don’t want to name names. You understand, right?
So I’m at A Elementary School, placed there by Company One, to work with a number of kids on my caseload. We’ll call this Year 1. Well, I did a pretty decent job. Two of the kids I started with ended up being discharged by the end of the year because they had made great progress in their goals and no longer needed a counselor. One of the kids I worked with moved up a grade and went to high school the following school year. That left me with only two. Well, it turned out that one of them was moving to a different school. So I was asked to move with him.
So now I’m at B Elementary School, placed there by Company One, to work with a kid I had worked with in the previous school year, as well as several others that would be added to my caseload. And there I stayed for the entirety of that school year (Year 2). But that kid that I moved there with? He moved back to A Elementary School the next school year. I was given the option to stay at B or move back to A with the kid. I was comfortable at B, so I chose to stay at B.
I built up my caseload throughout the next school year (Year 3) and then received a call in February letting me know that I was needed at A Elementary School. When I was asked to move, they made it sound like I had an option, but really, what option was there? It was me or another counselor. It made sense for it to be me because I had previous experience with A Elementary School. So I transferred. I wasn’t happy about it, but I did it. That unhappiness led to being headhunted by Company Two, who offered to place me back at B Elementary School, where I had grown comfortable over the past (almost) two school years.
I finished out that school year at B Elementary School with a new caseload and a new employer. But then that school year ended. And a new one began. And it turned out, a counselor was needed at A Elementary School. And who did Company Two turn to? This guy. Because I had previous experience at A Elementary School. Sure, I was told that it was a temporary move. I was told that I would be back at B Elementary School as soon as another counselor was hired and trained to take my place at A Elementary School. And then no one was hired. Thus, I spent all of Year 4 working at A Elementary School.
So I’ve been at A Elementary School ever since. Now it’s Year 5. It’s been a difficult few months since the start of this school year. I began with only three kids on my caseload and have since discharged one because he’s done very well and no longer needs me. Today I got a call asking me to transfer to another school. One I’ve never worked in before. I guess we need to call it C Elementary School. It’s been explained that the need for a counselor there is much greater than the need at A Elementary School.
Logic tells me that this is true. I only have two kids on my caseload (I’m expected to have four as a full-time employee). I can’t seem to get any referrals at A Elementary School (partially because I’m pretty sure the principal has a bias that leans toward Company One and would rather Company Two not be here to compete). So the potential for more clients is greater at C Elementary School.
Is it wrong that I feel like I’m being jerked around? Am I wrong to feel angry about this? Look, if it was just about me, it would be one thing. I could understand someone calling me selfish for not wanting to move if it only involved my feelings. But I’m working with children here. They’re kids that have real issues that they’re working on. I’m their counselor. For me to just disappear in a few days… What does that do to them? Who’s thinking of their well-being? Seriously?
When Company One transferred me to A Elementary from B Elementary, leading me to leave for Company Two, I accused them of not caring about the kids that we were working with. I accused them of only caring about which kids could get us the most money. See, if I left B Elementary, the four kids I worked with could be divided up among the other two counselors and they’d still get the funding. Plus, I’d pick up the four kids that were without a counselor at A Elementary, so they’d still get the funding. But the kids I’d built relationships with over the past year and a half who suddenly had to get to know new counselors? Whatever, as long as we still get the funding, we’re good. They’ll manage.
I expressed that frustration to the powers that be at Company Two when I began working for them. It was made clear to me, time and time again, that the kids’ needs would always come first. Is it just me, or does it seem that all of that was just words?
This has turned into a really long blog post. And it’s probably been confusing and mostly rambling. But I’m kind of angry right now. And it’s hard to completely process all of my thoughts through that anger. Though, I’m genuinely curious… if you managed to choke through all the rambling… am I off base here? Am I right to be angry? Am I right to feel like I’ve been singled out repeatedly throughout my career(s) as the guy that can just be lifted out of any given situation and placed into a new one? Does this happen to other people all the time and I’m just to focused on my own situation that I can’t see others dealing with the same crap? Am I not putting up enough of a fight when these situations keep coming up? Ugh… I think I need to find an abandoned warehouse and dance it out, Kevin Bacon style.