Since I was 17, I haven’t spent the spring, summer, and fall in the same place – I was always coming back from living abroad, or getting ready to leave in the fall, or jetting off somewhere for the summer. I considered lots of options for the summer – going back to Deep Griha in India, visiting friends in East Africa, or popping down to South America. Ultimately, though, none of those plans sounded as exciting as just staying in DC. I didn’t really feel like doing anything. Now, I know myself well enough to know I couldn’t just do nothing. The flexibility of grad school didn’t agree with my type-A nature, so I learned how important it is to have a routine to follow. I had big plans – I had even typed up a weekly “Summer of Fun” checklist – to limit myself to doing three productive things a day before moving on to mandated relaxation. One of those three things needed to be doing a 4-hour scoring session online for the TOEIC and TOEFL speaking exams so that I could pay my rent, but the other two things could be things like working on the research I’m doing with my advisor, going for a run, cleaning the bathroom, paying my bills, etc. Once I’d done my 3 things, I was going to turn off my computer, shut off from work, and relax on the porch or at the pool. It was going to be glorious. I even had a hashtag: #summeroffun2015
And then I accidently got a job. It just fell in my lap, and it was so perfect I couldn’t turn it down. The English Language Fellow program, which is the program that sent me to Indonesia, is administered by an office at Georgetown, and they sent an e-mail out to the alumni network about a temporary position assisting with the interview and placement process. The person needed be local to DC (check), available for the summer only (check), and be able to navigate the state department’s acronym alphabet soup (CCDC – check check double check). Also, they were paying a ton of money. So that was all pretty perfect for me! The only problem was, they wanted someone fulltime, and I already had commitments on campus 1-2 days a week most weeks. I e-mailed the director and said I’d be interested, but could only commit to 3 days a week. She did some checking, maybe waited in vain for other impoverished graduate students in the DC area to send their resumés, and e-mailed back to say that would be fine.
So, just like that, I have started my first ever 9-5 office job. I was worried that it would be really stressful to have to work all day long when I had been looking forward to a summer of relaxation. What I didn’t realize, having basically only ever worked full-time as a teacher, is what it actually is like to work a 9-5 office job. IT IS THE EASIEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Okay, that may not be true, but it just doesn’t compare to the minute-to-minute stress level of a teacher. Even if you’re not an especially stressed-out teacher, you’re on from the minute you walk through the door in the morning until the moment you leave (probably later than you’d like to) in the afternoon. At a desk job, you can take a break, get more coffee, or go to the bathroom whenever you want. You can fully digest your lunch before getting back to business. When you tell your computer to do something, it does it without talking back or rolling its eyes. You don’t even have to plan a carefully calibrated combination of competition and coercion to get it to do it’s work! It’s amazing! Of course, I am essentially working an entry-level job – I spend all day doing interviews and application reviews. It’s a series of time-consuming but fairly simple tasks. If I were 23, I would probably say something like “this just isn’t challenging me.” But I don’t want to be challenged! I just want to complete cognitively undemanding tasks and have someone give me money in return. As far as I can tell, that is the deal I have signed up for, and so far it’s going great.
So summer of fun 2015 is a little different than originally planned, but I think it is probably for the best. For one thing, I am making more money reviewing all these applications than I would have scoring speaking tests. And I leave work with a sense of accomplishment and the clear understanding that, after 8 hours in front of a computer, I do not need to do any more work, which is good for an overachiever like myself. And it turns out, there are a lot of hours outside of 9-5! So get ready – #summeroffun2015 is just getting started!