“The job did come with a strange disclaimer which escaped my notice at the time.” -Alison Swan
The interview for my dream job couldn’t have gone better! I was a young 25 years old and had envisioned this moment a dozen times. It was the position of a lifetime. I knew as soon as the offer came, I had been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility.
In some cases, I would be expected to use personal funds for travel and other work-related necessities. The firm couldn’t provide training, but I was welcome to seek assistance from more seasoned partners.
The hours would be long, the starting pay minimal, and the schedule demanding. Yet I recognized the experience’s value would far exceed the firm’s ability to compensate.
The job did come with a strange disclaimer that escaped my notice at the time: “Other industries may fail to recognize the transferability of your acquired skills.”
These minor detractions did nothing to diminish my interest in the position, and I immediately accepted the job. After which, I was forced to endure a 9-month probationary period of waiting. During this period, I was permitted to decorate my office and wait. To this day, I am perplexed by the waiting.
After the waiting period was complete, I was immediately thrown into the most demanding sector of the position.
For the first three months, I was allowed less than 3-4 hours of sleep per night. Arriving each morning extremely exhausted had me wondering if my blurry-eyed negligence might result in a co-worker’s fatality. Thankfully there were no deaths to report.
You would think I might have quit from the stress of it all, but actually, I became quite good at juggling the requirements. Soon, what had been stressful became an enjoyable conglomerate of challenges to overcome.
The best part of the juggling act was that no two days were the same. On a Monday, efficiency might be the best plan to achieve desired results. On a Wednesday, deep wells of patience might be needed.
Those early years flew by—I was promoted and admired. (Well, not usually admired outwardly, but I understood, my co-workers were quite young.) The 22-year mark passed, and it felt good to know I had tenure—nothing to worry about when it came to job security with this position in the bag.
What I am about to share next will come as a great surprise, as it did me…
I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around how it all unraveled. I was called into the head office one afternoon and told my expertise would no longer be needed. My position was being outsourced.
I was welcome to retain my title, but every project I had worked on would be dismantled. My responsibilities outsourced to large academic institutions, and my office cleaned out.
Years have passed since the day my position was eliminated. On most days, I hold such gratitude for the opportunity to have been offered the career of a lifetime.
Once in a while, the memory of a position I loved so deeply leaves me wishing for what once was. In all honesty, my title became a significant part of my identity.
It was a full and purposeful career to have raised our three beautiful and deserving children, now 25, 22, and 20. The role I accepted as a naive 25-year-old rookie resulted in greater fulfillment than I could have imagined and a lifetime of friendships with our young adults.
An Afterword: In recent weeks, the firm asked me to return for minimal hours as a consultant—I was thrilled to be asked. Although the hours of work are greatly diminished and usually remote, it continues to be my greatest passion.
Alison Swan is an Oregon native and lover of the mountains, skiing, hiking, tennis, and sunshine. Alison and her husband have three young adult children. She is most passionate about deepening her friendships with her husband and grown children, Jesus, mental health awareness, and encouraging women with hope and connection. You can find Alison at WhereWomenWalk on Instagram.
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