I graduated from the University of Toronto in 2012 with a degree in English. At that time I had already been working for a travel insurance company for a year and I had completed my studies part time. I got the job at the insurance company through a friend. She had told me that they were in desperate need of bilingual (French and English) employees, and since I speak French, I applied right away.
I was ecstatic when I was hired as a Customer Service Representative in the call centre of the travel insurance company. I had worked at Starbucks for nearly 5 years so I was very pleased to have a desk job. I also couldn’t believe that I was getting paid a salary and benefits. I was 23, and at that time the vast majority of my friends did not have the same employment situation as I did. I felt extremely fortunate and very grateful.
Overall, I enjoyed the work in the call centre. It was fast-paced and the days went by quickly. I worked with good people and had a good time, and it was nice to have a relatively predictable schedule. However, right from the get-go I knew that call centre work was not a long-term career option for me. When people would ask how the job was going, I would give vague answers like, “It’s way better than a coffee shop” or “It’s fine for now”. I never loved it.
I worked at the travel insurance company until the end of 2013. During my time there I worked my way up to managing the call centre along with managing other areas of the company. I had a great deal of input on projects and new developments, I was even taking continuing education courses in human resources, but still I never really felt fulfilled. I would often wonder where this career was ultimately going to take me, and I worried about getting stuck there. Toward the middle of 2013, I started to burn out. Hard. I was putting in long hours and a ton of energy to manage multiple projects and people at once. But because my heart wasn’t in it, I couldn’t perform to my best ability.
In December of 2013 I accepted an administrative position at a mid-sized insurance company in their disability claims department. I hadn’t been looking for work, but was recruited by an HR rep through LinkedIn. I accepted the position with a heavy heart but a clear head. I knew that I couldn’t keep up the pace at which I was going, I knew I needed something new. Today, I still work there, but with a new perspective.
Within the first few weeks of my time in administration, the ennui started to sink in. It was, once again, clear that this was not the industry for me. It has been a difficult situation to grapple with. My job is, by most definitions, excellent. It’s a decent salary, excellent benefits, lots of vacation days, a pension, low-stress, easy work, comfortable… and….and…. BORING.
It was Tim Ferriss who said that boredom is the opposite of happiness, and I have definitely been feeling that for the past seven months. It’s been hard to reconcile my feelings of ennui with my lack of job satisfaction, because based on society’s notion of success I’m doing very well. My job is even an easy commute! (Commuting is a nightmare for most Torontonians). However, I had to be honest with myself and make some choices and some changes.
So, only three months after starting my new job, I applied to go back to school. Without the stress of a management role, I had the space to think about what I really and truly wanted to do. I never wanted to go into insurance, I just sort of fell into it. Before working at the travel insurance company I had considered teaching, graduate school an MBA… With years of experience under my belt I felt just as lost as I had when I was first starting university!
And then an old idea that had been dancing around in the back of my mind surfaced to the front. I decided to apply for a one year post-graduate program in public relations. I’ve since been accepted to Centennial College and I will be starting there in January of 2015! I cannot wait.
My decision to go back to school in a particular industry set a fire within me. Over the past few months I have been volunteering all over city, building my portfolio and making connections. Working with creative and exciting people has reminded me that I too deserve to dream big, which is where this project comes in.
I am not alone in my ennui and my need for fulfilling work. All of my friends and acquaintances feel the same way. It is not because we are entitled, it is because we are passionate. We want careers that set our souls on fire. And that’s OK.