Amazonian

Today was my official first day at Amazon.com. This is the result of a calculated risk I took in August, when I decided to quit a full-time job for a temporary contract job. Today is just the beginning of higher expectations, new challenges, and a very demanding job.

My day started with a 4-hour orientation session on the company’s South Lake Union campus. Orientation reminded me of college orientation and the sense of uncertainty about the future I had at 18, and how I had no idea of what my college experience would be. A year ago, I had no idea that I would be working for Amazon, and I wouldn’t have believed it was possible a year ago. I wonder how much I will change – and how much the company will change – in one year from now.

I’m excited and nervous for the new phase in my career and my life. How will I balance 50-hour work weeks while trying to cook dinner and eat before 9 pm? What about attempting more than 6 hours of sleep a night? Is this possible?

I’ve been plagued by self-doubt since I began working for such a large company. I’ve always feared failure and had high expectations for myself. The corporate life stirred these doubts daily, and often several times a day. The stakes are high, and now I feel like the expectations have been raised again. I’m proud to be working there, and really enjoy the work. I balance the self-doubt by reminding myself that I can do the job, and have been doing it for several months.

It felt like an achievement just to be sitting in a conference room for new hire orientation at Amazon.com. I feel a sense of achievement when I think about 10 years ago, when I went to high school in a town of less than 500 people, and five years ago, when I graduated from college and started working at a newspaper in my college town. Now I’m working for an international company.

To me, this is a bigger achievement than my goal before age 25: leaving the Midwest. (I moved a month after I turned 24) I moved for opportunities like this one, and that has made all the difference.

Moving In: Goodbye, steak dinner. Hello, vegan BLT salad.

In the past month, I moved, got a new job, and haven’t posted anything about the transition.

In January I moved to Capitol Hill to live with the vegan boyfriend. Goodbye, steak dinner night. Hello, vegan BLT salad. (I was skeptical, but it is really tasty. The recipe uses tempeh and has become one of our staple recipes.) Instead of vegan-before-six, I’ve become vegan-after-six (unless we go out to dinner) most nights of the week.

A few days into the great apartment search, we saw one I absolutely loved with hardwood floors, lots of sun, a view of the Sound and parking downstairs. The boyfriend decided it was not to be, after he realized the three words he couldn’t live with: No Dogs Allowed. We don’t have a dog, but the option was a must-have for him. Although we generally agree I am more stubborn, he wouldn’t budge. We argued, and I attempted to talk him into my dream apartment, with no luck. So the search continued, with the first compromise of many more compromises in our future.

After weeks of searching for an apartment with hardwood floors that was Fido-friendly, we finally found the place we call home. Three weeks later, we’re still unpacking the last few boxes, but it is pet-friendly. So IF we decide to get a dog, we won’t have to move in a year. I have no plans to adopt a dog in the near future, and I really don’t want to move again in a year. For now, we’re trying to adjust to each other (and our eating habits and schedules) without adding a pet to the mix.

Guest Post on Brazen Careerist

On Friday, my guest post was published on Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist. I read about it in the dentist’s office, waiting for a cleaning at 7 AM. I’m not a morning person, but I booked the earliest appointment I could get, because I wouldn’t have to take unpaid time off from my job.

I’ve read Penelope’s blog for more than a year, and I like that she is direct. She writes about things that are relevant, and provocative. And I enjoy the posts about farm life, since it’s something I relate to, after growing up in a small rural town in the Midwest.

The guest post illustrated three things for me:

1. The power of Twitter.

2. Ideas, not a long resume with years of experience, are what matter to my generation. This is essentially what Brazen Careerist is about. Your ideas are your resume. If you have a good idea, despite having only a few years of experience, you can still make a positive contribution — to your company, your family, your friends, your community, etc. The guest post was a good idea from an unknown 20-something.

2. Writers need thick skins. I hadn’t written for an audience larger than 10 people since 2006, when I graduated from college. When I wrote the guest post, I wanted to write well, since it would be seen by presumably thousands of people. I thought about being clear and concise. I didn’t consider if the comments would be positive or negative. They were mostly positive.

And really, it doesn’t matter what the comments were. I was interested to read from other people who had worked as temporary employees, or became consultants, or considered internships or temp jobs, because they weren’t satisfied with their stable, full-time jobs. My generation changes job every two years. We are willing to take calculated risks. If we’re not happy, we will look elsewhere for better opportunities. We’ll take initiative — and that might mean taking a different job, and maybe for less money, if we enjoy the work more.

I was just excited to write, and to have this opportunity from a blogger than I respect. Writing has been a hobby of mine since I was eight years old, writing short stories in pencil on wide-rule notebook paper for my third grade teacher, Mrs. Koehn. I started a blog as a creative outlet, and I was flattered to write for a larger audience.

Thank you, Penelope, for running my guest post.

On a related note, my contract was extended. I’ll be temporary employed through Christmas, and hopefully in 2011.

Why I love a temp job

Because it’s fun.

I enjoy the work much more than what I was doing before. Now, I schedule site content and work with HTML and XML code for a well-known internet retailer. No more answering phones and ordering office supplies. I’m happier in my daily life because I enjoy my work, instead of complaining how much I hate my job.

The resume boost.

I think the skills I’m acquiring now make me more qualified for the full-time jobs I want. I see possible room for advancement within the company, either as a temporary or full-time employee.

The company is young and motivated.

The company culture is driven, innovative and creative. Ideas are encouraged. My coworkers are highly motivated people who take initiative, and they’re young. I’m 26 and everyone in my department is under 35, including my boss.

A risk paid off.

I’m not a risk taker, but I took a calculated risk to become a temp. The enjoyment I feel after a 10-hour day confirms that I made the right choice, even though I have no guarantee that I’ll be employed in a few months. For me, loving what I do is so refreshing and important.

It’s an adventure.

I’m only there for a few months, so I’m doing my best to take initiative and learn as much as I can while I’m there.

I quit. For a temp job.

A week ago, I quit my steady full-time job to start a new journey.

Tomorrow I start a temporary position at Amazon, as an Assistant Editor/Site Merchandiser in the Apparel Department.

I’m taking a risk in my career, but 26 is a great time to take risks. If not now, then when? I’m not a risk taker. Especially when it comes to my financial stability, I like guarantees and knowing when I’ll see my next paycheck. Taking a temp job is out of character, but I could see the benefits of this adventure outweigh the risks.

The interview was on my birthday, which happened to be Friday the 13th. Note to self: if possible, schedule future interviews on my birthday, or Friday the 13th. I wasn’t sure if I’d get the job, but I was relieved to have the interview finished. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Seattle, and life was good. After the interview and lunch at a great sandwich shop in Capitol Hill with my boyfriend, we left for Vancouver, BC, where I tried not to think about work.

Friday was my last day at my old office – my first full-time job in Seattle. It was surreal to give my boss my notice. She was surprised, but wished me luck on my new path. I’m trading stability for a big opportunity, even though my new adventure has no guarantees. I could be unemployed in three months, and I’m well aware of that. Goodbye paid vacation, sick time and reliable paycheck. Hello, scaled back health insurance and uncertain financial future.

I see this temporary job as a stepping stone. Perhaps a stepping stone to a more fulfilling full-time job, either at Amazon or another company. This will build my skills and add a well-known company to my resume. (Couldn’t hurt, right?) I was ready for a change, and this will certainly be a drastic difference from my former workplace, a small non-profit in the north end of Seattle.

It would be a gross understatement to write that my new environment will be a BIG change from the old workplace. Much different location, job tasks and company culture. This is an entirely different world. And one I think I’m lucky to be in, if only for a few months.

Interestingly, I was at my first job for one year and nine months, before I quit to move to Seattle. I spent the same amount of time at the old place – a year and nine months – before taking the temporary job. This timeline illustrates how I’m representative of my age group.  Typical twenty-somethings change jobs every 18 months.

So wish me luck. This time tomorrow, I’ll be working at Amazon.