Friday, January 25, 2013

My 5 Year Anniversary

This seems to be a year of monumental anniversaries for me. As these events and markings of time come and go I will definitely talk about them in this space. And this particular time of year marks an anniversary that I am going to go into detail on today. This coming week will mark the five year anniversary that I have been with my employer.

The five year mark itself kind of blows me away. 5 years is longer than I was in high school, and it was longer than I was in college. As I am embarking on the final years of my 20s I am thoroughly amazed at how fast time has gone by. I can still recall 5 years ago like it was a few weeks ago.

I was fresh out of college and just starting out my real adult life. My first gig out of college was actually working for the US State Department in New York, and I hated every second of it. The waste of taxpayer resources on events that didn’t impact meaningful change in our world, witnessing firsthand the general ineptness and procedural hurdles that is government work, I mean really, I could go on and on. Plus, I was still seeing my college sweetheart and we were trying the whole long distance thing, and admittedly a big piece of my heart was in Chicago (she’s now my wife thank you very much J).

So almost without hesitation I left the big apple for the windy city. My first bite in the job hunt came in the form of recruitment for JP Morgan. I had filled out paper work, had a start date on the calendar and then was informed that a hiring freeze was taking place and that my services would not be needed. Funny side note, when I tell friends this story the feedback I usually get is, “I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, did you look into a lawsuit?” So to answer that question through this blog I’ll say no, I never looked into a lawsuit. Because when you are $20,000 in debt with no emergency fund and your portfolio consists of a pair of vans shoes and a Euro, you really don’t have the resources to pursue legal action.

So I scrambled to find a job. I sent my resume literally all over this town. After what felt like an eternity a temp agency presented two offers to me. One was working with a government entity (sigh), but with the added twist of getting to work in a publication unit where I would be drafting and editing articles (I was a communications major in college, so yes it was tempting even though it was a government job). Or an entry level-esque temping assignment at my current employer, an international financial services company headquartered here in Chicago. The temp job that lined up with my major was significantly less than the one with the financial services company, so guess which one I picked??

When I tell this story to friends I jokingly say that choice was when I decided to sell my soul to the highest bidder. But the truth is that I turned that opportunity into a path that is leading towards prosperity.  My relationship with my current employer of course did not start on the right foot. I was in over my head in debt and honestly needed them more than they needed me. But I slowly got my act together and started working Dave’s baby steps. At home we made a budget and started living on it, and I happily mutilated and closed each and every credit card I held. Every pay day was an exciting event because I was reaching my goals of having an emergency fund, becoming debt free, saving for retirement and saving for my first home.

I feel that the relationship with my employer has definitely changed for the better over these last few years. I am getting less dependent on the tokens of appreciation they show me every month in the form of paychecks. As a result I am under a lot less stress now than 5 years ago. Yes life still happens and there are good and bad days and great and tough people to work with. But my perception and attitude at work genuinely changed when I got my personal financial house in order. I seriously could quit today, throw pizzas for a living and maintain our household’s cost of living. But I go to work where I do because I want to, not because I have to.  And I think that change in mindset has given me a great foundation for the first 5 years of steady employment in my adult life, and will definitely influence how I plan out the next 5.

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