If you didn’t know already, I work as a quality control analyst at a pharmaceutical company. When I was earning my chemistry degree, I knew I never wanted to work in industry. Specifically, I knew I never wanted to work in pharmaceuticals. More specifically I never wanted to work in quality control. And yet somehow I ended up here.
That somehow was this: as an undergrad in 2009, the ice cream shop I was working at went out of business. Well being a poor college student trying to put myself through school, I needed something. My professor sent my resume to this pharmaceutical company that was seeking interns. I got the internship, and worked 10-12 hours during the week and 40 hours during holiday breaks. After I graduated I had $200 to my name and $30K in student loan debt and I was starting graduate school. So I continued at the company as an hourly part-time employee while trying to balance graduate classes.
A month in, I dropped out of grad school. I was pursuing a 1-year intensive teaching credential/M.Ed. program that was going to require me to commit my daytime hours to student teaching, a schedule conflict with my paid employment. I needed money. I had no other way to make rent. And quite frankly I was burnt out on school. As an undergrad I had forfeited all of my breaks, Spring Break, Summer Break, Christmas Break, everything to research and internships in order to make enough money to pay for rent and gas and to get some experience. I needed a break from having every minute of my day dedicated to working and studying.
So my company offered me a full-time job. Benefits, 401K, the whole deal. For a while it was great. I had enough money to make all of those purchases I had put off. A car to replace my gas guzzling monster that was on its last leg. An iPod. A haircut. A full tank of gas. Food that wasn’t from a can. My body healed. I dropped 15 lbs. I cut out coffee and energy drinks. I reduced my drinking by 80%. I got massages twice a month to finally work out all of those knots I had acquired over four years of tediously maintaining school/work/life balance. I started taking yoga classes once a week. My head cleared, and my life slowed waaaaay down.
And then after a year things weren’t so shiny. Office politics became more visible. All of the other departments hired while we downsized. The expansion of the rest of the company increased our workloads. And my projects became tedious. Every misstep, every failure meant a pile of paperwork. If anyone has worked in quality, you know it’s a bureaucratic nightmare. Dozens of volumetric flasks (pictured above) kept me company. My desire to teach resurfaced. I found it harder to relate to my peers in industry when my heart was in academia.
So in 3 months and 2 days, I’m leaving my job. Tristan and I are going to Idaho for a week to enjoy the company of family, friends, and the Sawtooth Mountains. And then I am going to graduate school.