If you have not read This Isn’t the Career I Ordered Part 1 of 4 and want to read it first, you can find it here:
Right before graduating from Auburn, I was offered an Inside Sales position at a phone company. I was so shy as a child, I would have never seen myself in any kind of sales, but I was pretty good at it. It was honestly probably the easiest sales you could do. There was no cold calling, just people calling you who either knew someone who had it and were referred, or got an ad in the mail. Of course, the ones who got the ads were sometimes suspicious and rude and ugly to you, but most were not. I had the phone service myself and thought it was great and much cheaper than the alternatives, but of course some thought I was just saying that to sell it to them. Some would curse you out for the part of the ad that mentioned $10 to $13 being added to your bill for taxes, even though these were added by the government to every home phone bill. There was a least a time or two I cried.
When I first started with the company, they were growing so fast that they were about to move buildings. I was told about this temporary situation when interviewing. One of my interviews took place at Waffle House by the way. So here I am, in a suit, interviewing for a corporate position in a Waffle House. I think the Sales manager just wanted me to be more relaxed so she could see me be more myself, but it was a little awkward. You are taught all of these interview do’s and don’ts and none of them involve the Waffle House, but I got the job. When I first started, we were at tables, 3 people in one room. So when we did move soon, having a big roomy private cubicle felt luxurious. I was often one of the top sales people and most of the time enjoyed what I did, but I did not want to work in a call center long term. The company also occasionally had layoffs, and Sales was one of the departments hit by them.
While in Sales, I won awards and I was selected to put up inspirational quotes for the department every day. I loved the company I worked for and I thought it loved me back as a naive 21 year old. I thought the company cared about my ideas, so I would send some to the Executive directly over my department, who was also over Marketing. I think I also let him know of my desire to eventually move to Marketing. My whole department would eventually learn he was not the nicest guy. He forced us to do a line at the beginning of our call that was so generic, our callers laughed at us, because they knew we were forced to say it, and they thought it was just as ridiculous as we did. When some of us did send him ideas, not only did he not reply to them or use any of them, but our boss would eventually ask us on his behalf to stop, so I did. Luckily, that man eventually left the company and was replaced by another I became friends with. He really cared about the staff and our ideas.
The opportunity to move to the Marketing department never came. I only recall one person ever moving to Marketing from Sales. I was told by others it because they were having an affair with the CEO. I did not know if it was true or not, but that was definitely not how I was going to get into Marketing. Some other internal positions did eventually get posted. I applied for two or three I believe before I finally got one. I had been in Sales a year and a half and an HR position opened up. It involved some of the things I thought I might do and enjoy in Marketing anyways, like doing the company newsletter and planning fun activities for staff. I got the job and it turned out I even enjoyed the other parts of the job, like payroll and orienting new staff, etc. I liked that the job had so many different parts to it, and there was never a dull moment.
I was still in a cubicle when I first moved into HR, even though the person in the position before me had an office, that was now empty. I understood I had to work my way up to an office, no big deal, but one day my chair broke. Instead of asking for the company to waste money buying a new one for me, I pulled the old chair out of the empty office and started using it. I had asked my boss and she said it was fine. I did not even notice at first, but it was a bigger, nicer chair than my old one. Apparently certain people have nicer chairs. The CFO came by one day looking for my boss and she was not there. He made a snide comment about me using the nice chair, like I shouldn’t be or did not have the right to. It caught me so off guard that I don’t think I even worked up the nerve to explain to him, I was just trying to save the company money. I had a great boss at the time that became a mentor. I also liked her boss, our company attorney and both of them seemed to like me.
However, at some point, they changed it to where the CFO became my boss’s boss. Yes, that same one that was bothered by me using a chair too nice for me. Boy, was that moment a preview of our future working relationship. My boss would eventually leave and talked the CFO into letting me do her job, in addition to mine. It seems crazy, but I took 2k more a year to do my job, and to take on the job of someone who made a whole lot more than me. However, the company was laying off some, so I saw it as an opportunity to hopefully become even more of an asset to the company, doing more than one job, and to build my resume of course and get the experience. I figured once I proved myself they would pay me more. They eventually did pay me more, but I still made less than anyone else in that position before had made for doing just the one job, not both, even one that had no experience like me. I did not expect to make what those much more experienced had made, even doing both jobs. I did finally get an office though, and this one even had a huge window!
So now, that CFO was now my boss. I was not used to having a boss I did not see everyday. I am pretty sure had no idea what I did every day and he gave me no guidance. One day I left early, because I found at that my real father had passed away, and I had not seen him in 3 years. Of course I told my Receptionist and others, but did not tell my boss. We hardly ever spoke, he was a busy man, I was so upset it honestly did not even cross my mind. Of course, he brought this up the next day, and here I am dealing with my father’s death, and pregnant now by the way, apologizing to my boss. I tried so hard to get on his good side and things like this just did not help.
While my old boss had mentored me a lot and I had taken the test to get my professional in Human Resources certificate, and eventually planned to get my Senior one once I had more experience, I had never fired anyone before. I had never handled a sexual harassment case before, but these things were thrown right to me and with the knowledge I now have, I know I totally mishandled them then, but I did my best with the knowledge I had at the time. I delegated a lot to my Receptionist because she was asking for more to do, and she was eventually promoted to Executive Assistant for that reason. So, I got a new Receptionist. I hoped I could eventually get that one promoted to, but she would eventually be laid off a month before I was. Here I was, 25 running a department, I was in over my head. I was lucky that I had been with the company 5 years by the time I had a baby at 26, and could take my entire 12 weeks of leave and even have a lot of it paid, thanks to time off accrued and short term disability the company paid for.
Before I went out on leave I did as much as I could, so the person filling in for me would not have too much. I also saved as much as I could until my return. Many people within the company wanted a shot at doing my job while I was out, and I wanted to give one of them a chance. The CFO thought this was a horrible idea, and basically made me feel like I should not even have my job for suggesting it. The person I had in mind was someone I worked with before and trusted. I realized they would have access to pay information, etc. He instead wanted the Controller to fill in for me while still doing their own job. So this person was doing what now used to be 3 jobs. I trained them well before I left and left a booklet for them with instructions. This would later cause the company to no longer need me.
People told me that while I was on maternity leave, and after I eventually got laid off from the company, that things they needed done were never done, that my replacement was horrible. I did such a good job of training my replacement and writing instructions on how to do my job, at a time when the company was looking for people to get rid of, and my new boss was never a big fan of mine to begin with and vice versa. The company could not lay me off while pregnant, so I came back to work. There was another mass layoff not long after I returned. I even survived it. It turns out, I survived it so I could handle all of the terminations, including unemployment claims and severance packages, etc. Once I was done with all of that, I was laid off by myself about a month later.
I would have been more upset if they had not offered me the same severance and unemployment, etc. I had been with the company almost 6 years so they were pretty good to me considering, but I still felt used and it hurt. When telling me about the layoff, my boss was very nice and even admitted he had not been a good boss to me. He let me come back whenever I wanted to clean out my office, he said he trusted me, that felt good. I was so young and naive and thought I actually meant something to the company. There were people at the company I meant something to, but you never mean anything to the company itself. I have learned over time, it is not the company, but your boss and coworkers that make the biggest impact on whether you enjoy your job or not and feel appreciated, etc. I would eventually stop having blind loyalty to an employer, because if your boss changes, your entire job sometimes changes. Sometimes for the better, but sometimes for the worst.
Before being laid off, I had been looking for another job due to the company layoffs, and had even been offered a job recently I had turned down, because it was a little less money and I might have to work some Saturdays. I was also having a hard time voluntarily leaving my first job out of college. I saw myself moving up and retiring with the company, but that does not happen for hardly anyone anymore like it used to. So here I am, laid off. So, what happens next? Find out in This Isn’t the Career I Ordered Part 3 below…
Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook, or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here. Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor