Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
Am I currently in a job that I feel over qualified for? If looking at my current situation through the sole lens of professional achievement and advancement, then the absolute, undeniable answer is yes.
I have a B.A. in International Relations with a concentration in U.S. Foreign Policy from American University, have completed part of my Master’s degree in Communications and, up until a year ago, when I left my job, I had spent the last six years working on various policy initiatives for Democratic causes — most notably serving both the Democratic National Committee and President Obama in helping to pass national health care reform.
Aside from a few freelance projects I’m working on, my main source of income these days comes from waiting tables at a busy Boston restaurant, where my responsibilities are a far cry from intellectually stimulating. My main duties have gone from writing press releases, attending congressional hearings, and managing national media events to selling guests various types of margaritas — “Would you like that on the rocks or frozen?”
To say that there are some days that I go into work and feel overqualified for what I do is an understatement.
But there is another side to my employment situation. A side that could easily be overlooked and one that has been difficult for me to come to terms with, but it’s a more positive side filled with personal growth. It is the aspect of my current situation that I choose to spend my time focusing on.
I have never grown so much from a single job or learned so much about what is important in life from a group of people as I have from my current co-workers.
I’ve learned from a food runner who spent time in jail and now makes an honest living about how fortunate I am. He has taught me that my life isn’t as bad as I think it is and, if I want to change my current situation, I need to change my attitude and outlook first. I’ve learned from a busser who came to this country with very little and is proud to have a job that she can support her family with about the importance of being content with life. She does a job cleaning up dirty tables that most people I know would scoff at, but comes to work with a smile on her face everyday without complaint and is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met.
I’ve even learned something from the young college kids I work with, who work not to support themselves but mostly to support their weekly drinking habits. They have taught me to stop taking my life so seriously and that there is no shame in having a little fun.
These are life lessons that I will bring with me to whatever comes next. While I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for my former colleagues, still working hard day in and day out in the political arena, many of whom have Ivy League degrees and a long list of impressive career accomplishments, I’m not sure I could have learned nor appreciated these life lessons without stepping outside of my former life.
I would not take back my current experience. I know that eventually, in the next few months or so, I will be transitioning out of restaurant work as I begin to build my holistic health counseling business — something I am currently studying for — but I am forever grateful for the life lessons I have learned.
I have become a much more humble, understanding and compassionate person and I feel fortunate to have a job that as allowed me to support myself as I change careers and discover new passions in life.