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.

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.

Does being an entrepreneur mean cutting your own hair?

While reading an article in the June Vogue magazine, I was struck by a quote from Net-A-Porter founder and millionaire Natalie Massenet in the interview:

“Choose the right husband and nanny, and then don’t worry about a social life. Everything but family and work has to go.”

This was alarming to me. And that surprised me a little.

Me, a self-proclaimed feminist who wants a successful career. Those words struck me because I realized I want success, but I want a life beyond work and a family (in the event that I have a husband and child at some point in the distant future.) I like standing on my own two feet, and being able to pay all my bills on time, without depending on someone else’s income.

I don’t usually read Vogue. The only reason I saw the June issue was that I’d arrived 45 minutes early to a pedicure, a luxury I enjoy once every few months. And since June in Seattle was in the 60s and mostly rainy, I have hope that in July, I’ll wear sandals more often.

I was reading about Massenet’s company, and how she recently made $76 million dollars by selling Net-A-Porter to Richemont, the company that also owns Cartier. Before reading this, I had never heard of Net-a-Porter. I’m not the demographic (I don’t buy $1,200 shoes.) But if I did, and I wanted them within 24 hours, NAP is the place to go.

I admire Massenet’s entrepreneurship. Ten years ago she had the idea for this business of selling high-end fashion online to women who were too busy to shop. So-called experts kept saying the business would fail. It didn’t. The Vogue interview revealed that Massenet cuts her own hair, does her own makeup, and has a husband and two kids.

I want a successful career. I want to be self-sufficient and to buy an expensive bottle of wine on occasion, or get a pedicure if I want one, and go on vacation once or twice a year. But I’m not willing to sacrifice my social life, at least at 25, for the almighty career. Maybe I’ll feel differently at 35 or 45. Then again, I don’t think I’ll ever be a millionaire. Regardless, I want a work-life balance that involves 40 or 50-hour work weeks. And haircuts by a professional.