Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You're worth is what you make?

As my father's worldly circumstances were very limited, we were under the necessity of laboring with our hands, hiring out by day's work and otherwise, as we could get opportunity. Sometimes we were at home, and sometimes abroad, and by continuous labor were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance. - Joseph Smith's Testimony

When I was a teenager, I had a terrible thing happen to me. I was offered a great job. Though I was a talented student, I had never had an easy time finding good jobs. So I was really pleased about this one. I would be making about 50% more than at my job at a fast food restaurant. I immediately quit the fast food job, and accepted the position. As it turned out, the position I'd accepted was as a temp. Though the pay was excellent for two days, they had no more work for me after that. They promised to call soon though. It took me about a month to realize that they weren't going to call.

The damage was done, however. I now considered myself to be worth $10 an hour, no less. Fast food was now beneath me. I began only applying to jobs where the pay was at least that much.

Needless to say, I had difficulty finding any job that paid that much. In fact, I remained mostly unemployed for the next six months. Finally, halfway through my freshman year of college, I figured things out. I applied at a fast food restaurant, and started working for $6.00 an hour - even less than at my previous fast food job. But, $6.00 an hour is a lot more than $0.00 an hour!

I decided never to make that mistake again. Since then, I've had a system:
  1. If I don't have a job, take the first job I can get.
  2. If I don't like my current job, look hard for a better job.
  3. Don't ever quit a job until another, better long-term job is guaranteed.
  4. Always be prepared in case I become unemployed tomorrow.
This is why during college I had the following series of jobs:
  • Fast Food (at two different places)
  • Assisting a disabled older fellow
  • Elementary School Music Teacher
  • Russian Tutor
  • Research Assistant at an aerospace company
The last job was a very good job - but importantly, I didn't quit the two jobs I'd held at the time until I had the Research Assistant job.

It is foolish to define one's worth by an hourly wage - especially during a job search. And minimum wage definitely beats no wage.

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