2017 has started off incredibly- and kept me very busy. It seems I have waited all of my life to start living the way I want to: such a long time and so many stumbles and detours to get to this point, but I see now that not only was it worth it, but all of it was necessary for this moment.
As of last week, I've moved out of of my parents' house in Suburbia into a beautiful historic house in Birmingham. My roommates and neighbors are fantastic; I'm excited about all our projects planned and just lovely spring evenings on the front porch coming up. Starbucks is less than a mile's walk away, a trip I plan to make often.
During February, I was released from the bonds of the siren for a series of adventures (a story for another day), focus on my freelance project, and just being. After dozens of hours of retrospect, many of which were on the road listening to an audiobook or reading Howard Schultz's "Pour Your Heart Into It", I'm ready. Just ready. Anxious for opportunity and accomplishment and independent life.
I found myself so over the games, ever-changing rules, petty deal breakers, and the never-ceasing harsh disappointments pretty much as soon as I began my post-collegiate job hunt over a year ago. So I started grad school, like the frivolous girl I am. However, I also made some good decisions, like finding a mentor, taking on a big, long-term entrepreneurial project with a start-up, spending hundreds of hours researching and learning for that project, and making new friends based on my values and passions and under-explored interests instead of circumstances, location, or similarity. No more wasted time on Indeed and LinkedIn trying to beg someone for a $40k salary and a cubicle to get me out of my parent's house and my green apron.
Ironically, that project and the necessary research for it and my barista skill set is ultimately what enticed the JOB OFFER I got this morning-- while late on the way to cover a shift at Starbucks. I've self-educated on the emerging and prevalent trends in talent acquisition from the other side for several months instead of spamming Birmingham with my resume. This research lead to identifying companies that are on the cutting edge of utilizing human capital. I will be working at one of those companies on a B2B financial application migration project with a primary focus in client service and tech support. I'm barely qualified by experience, education, and proven skills. Here's the thing: that doesn't matter. I'll get back to that...
Scouring their website and press releases is not how I found the job; apparently I just missed one of the recruiters when I did my hardcore email unsubscribe house-cleaning or they were simply waiting for the right opportunity to present to me. The multi-faceted outward-facing role intrigued me and apparently my bubbly, enthusiastic, and idealistic demeanor interested them. Then I found out the role was at BBVA Compass and I knew that even though it meant scaling back my project and that I would most likely have to leave Starbucks (I always knew the day would come, but I'll never actually be ready), I couldn't pass up going for it. So I did. And now that light at the end of the tunnel is looking more like greener pastures with all the butterflies.
These trends I've mentioned that have most sparked my zeal for my ever-narrowing career direction are pretty well demonstrated in just BBVA's change from "HR department" to "Talent and Culture" teams. What's in a name? Everything. It's a brand, a huge idea conveyed in just a short string of letters.
The interview (the only one I've ever actually enjoyed and left feeling uplifted instead of cheapened since my Starbucks interview) dialogue was heavily focused on this idea that learning aptitude was far more valuable than knowledge and a common vision, passion, cultural fit with the organization is vital for a successful hire. And a work environment needs to be one that allows workers to fail so that they will strive endlessly instead of coasting on slowly and so very sadly to retirement. Funny how being genuine is what finally landed me a "big girl job".
But here's the thing: being genuine is what landed me a big girl job, yes, but that was already the case as a Starbucks barista. It's not about what society deems respectable or professional or valuable, because society is not objective. And collective subjectivity can get people killed. (That escalated, I know, but I stand behind the repugnance.) We've perpetuated this false narrative that it's shameful to be in certain industries and roles, especially at certain ages or other demographic factors. It's bullshit. I'm eternally remorseful for how long I stoked the flames of this lie and let it demoralize me and how I viewed the people around me.
No one will give you a big girl job. You make it. You do it. You live it.
You get up and you go do a thing that creates value and you do it well, with vision, for a reason. That is a big girl job. It has nothing to do with titles and salaries and benefits. Taking ownership of your life, your work is how you take yourself places and experience reality to your own liking. I've been honing my craft at Starbucks and growing in new ways because I decided being a barista was not skating through life or abject in anyway. Along my journey, I embraced why my work mattered more and more. I found ways to get better and be fulfilled. I encouraged my partners and customers to do the same. I allowed myself to look for moments of inspiration by connecting with individuals and reveled in the warmth.
In my case, the big girl job I've been doing, in and out of the Third Place, will almost certainly completely remove me from my green apron. But that is not always so. Sometimes doing a big girl job will keep you in one line of work, whatever that may be, because it is what makes you come alive or what most aligns with how you chose to live. Some people work to retire early and fish more and spend more time with grandkids or their life partner at that point. Others work to live right now and enjoy the company of the people they love today. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive and are demonstrated in innumerable ways in the lives of individuals. When they are happy and dedicated and growing, they have a big girl job.
Play it cool. Don't worry about it. It's just coffee. Whatever. Dork. It's not that deep. Don't think too much. Don't try so hard. Nerd. Play hard to get.-- Can we not? The human experience and all it's glorious possibility is something to be excited about. Who decided to make apathy "in"? That collective subjectivity I warned you about is responsible for such. Don't worry about society and start embracing the people in front of you and the world around you. It's okay to give a hoot and go for it. And by okay, I mean life-changing good for you. Come alive.
Making coffee, I learned to be performance driven, through the lens of humanity, and this is my craft to hone. This is my big girl job. It's what I do. It's who I am. And it began at Starbucks.
(formerly "Bare Barista Threads" and "Memoirs of a Pizza Girl")
With a year of delivering pizza, two and a half years as a barista, and some more time in the trenches, I have plenty of stories, thoughts, and musings. The days that threatened to break me all the while built me. I want to help others in my profession view their work as an opportunity, too. This is my soap box.