I should really write blog posts more than once a year. I’ll put that on my ever-expanding list of goals for 2020.
This is me checking in after 18 months or so in corporate America. What a strange, challenging, fascinating journey it’s been.
I decided to take the plunge after hanging out around the office as an intern long enough to gain a good amount of respect for the employees of the industrial contractor for whom I work. During that time, I interviewed with the University of Arkansas (for an Academic Counselor position), as well as with Planned Parenthood, but both ended in a mutually dissatisfactory experience.
That’s when I realized that my special brand of “making a difference” was probably best suited for an environment that valued compromise. I have an almost problematic ability to see a situation from every perspective–including the one that most would probably consider the “bad guy’s.” Because in real life, 95% of the time, there isn’t a black-and-white bad guy. Sometimes, situations are such that there isn’t a good answer.
Other times, the “bad guy” is a result of the environment that conditioned him. This doesn’t mean his/her words or actions should be tolerated, but in my 25 years on this planet I have learned that the way to a desirable result is not to attack him. It’s to try and understand, so that you can (sometimes more slowly than you’d like) make a difference by showing that decision-maker why he should think or feel differently. Shoutout to my hero, Ruth Bader Ginsburg–Queen of the Slow Game.*
As one of my very favorite quotes captures so eloquently:
It’s easy to judge. It’s more difficult to understand. Understanding requires compassion, patience, and a willingness to believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding, we grow.
And that’s why I stayed. I saw–and continue to see–so much goodness around the company I work for. I see injustice (both environmental and socioeconomic) built into the system I work in, but I also see people who have been there their entire careers listening and watching and changing as people like me and you offer new perspectives. It’s the slow game, but I think it’s one that needs to be played if we ever want to enact peaceful, meaningful change in some of the oldest and, despite what might be comfortable to think about, most critical industries (I’m looking at you, oil and gas).
Most would probably consider 75% of what I do internal communications. I run the company’s intranet, fielding news from around the organization and feeding it into a website hosted on SharePoint that only our administrative employees can see. I also help with initiatives that require a deeper reach, on to our field employees, which proves a unique challenge. How do you get in front of people that are always on the move, or those who don’t regularly have access to a computer at work? It’s something that surprisingly few resources have been devoted to in the past at my organization, but I can tell we are definitely moving that way. I’m pretty passionate about continuing to push in that direction.
The other 25% of my job is divided between helping out with other departments’ projects, coordinating the design and installation of interior decor at office locations, and designing and procuring different kinds of branded items employees find themselves needing.
It’s a big job, and I’ve had to learn to be comfortable knowing I can never possibly get everything I need to get done, done. But that’s what grad school was, and that’s kind of what life is, so I guess it makes sense. And to be honest, I wouldn’t actually want it any other way… despite what I will tell you after a long, stressful day.
My favorite part of what I do is how often I have the opportunity to interface with people who are so very different from myself. I love slowly building trust, becoming someone’s go-to in my department, and learning little pieces about them, their day-to-day at work, and their personal lives in the process. I am consistently fascinated by how many different ways there are to approach a problem and how much I can learn by tackling projects with teammates who think, react, and process information differently than I do. And they’re full-bodied, interesting, fun people outside of work, too.
Humans are just interesting. Even the ones that take a little work to really get in with.
That’s why they’re worth playing the slow game with, even if I don’t understand their way of being at first. Everyone has a perspective with inherent value that you can learn from. As long as you can see the good in what you’re doing and the people you’re working with, I think you are where you’re supposed to be.
*I found myself using the masculine pronoun here and thought about correcting it because there are definitely women involved in this, for lack of a better term, patriarchy as well… but in my experience, it’s the male perspective that has historically informed most of this socio-economic milieu we’re living in. If there’s one thing I learned in grad school, it’s to quit apologizing for speaking from a woman’s perspective. Sorry, not sorry. (That’s the closest I can get to not apologizing–I’M MAKING PROGRESS!)