Let's go on a bit of a stroll down memory lane.
Yours truly is twenty and (in theory) on a "break" from college. In order to return to college, the parental units insist that I get a job and earn X amount of money to put toward my college funds.
So on this very day in 2005, I had my first day of work as a temp-to-hire employee. It was primarily a data entry position, which worked for me. I was scheduled for 20 hours a week, working 5-9 PM on weeknights. I didn't have to get up early and could spend the days doing what I wanted, so it seemed like a sweet deal.
I walked into the lobby of the building and realized that I had no idea what I was supposed to do. So, I walked straight up to the front desk and, with as much of a smile as I could, I said, "Hi, I'm new and I'm not sure where I'm supposed to go." In return, I got a blank, uninterested look. Panic was about to take over when someone from behind me answered. Apparently, we had a meeting to attend, and I followed the masses into the adjoining room. Huddling in a chair at the back of the room, I clutched my purse and waited.
That first night is still a bit of a blur. During the meeting, we got Valentine's candy (a day late, but who cares), and I remember thinking that was pretty cool. I later found out that the woman who would be training me for my job wasn't available for a few days, so I learned to do some easy stuff to fill the time. I stopped by my boss's office to ask if I was allowed to take a break (no one had explained that part to me), and I headed out the front door to have a smoke alone. I got to leave about 20 minutes early that first night, and when I got home, I remember my mom being so excited that I'd had my first night of work. I, on the other hand, was just tired and hungry. Excitement would have to wait.
Fast-forward to today. Seven years later, I'm still working for the same company in the same general area. It sounds less eventful than it was, trust me.
In July of 2005, I became a permanent part-time employee. In August, my parents told me I hadn't earned enough money (well, I hadn't given them enough of my money, anyway) to return to school. So in September of 2005, I started working 27-29 hours a week. By December, I was working 40 hours a week at part-time pay ("seasonal" full-time, they called it) and had decided that work was better for me at the time than school.
I continued working 40 hours a week (at hourly, part-time pay with no benefits). I kept being told that I'd have to drop back to under 30 hours at some point, but the threat was never made good. In April 2007, I was finally offered a full-time position doing the same thing I was doing, but with Day Administration instead of Night Processing. That meant working from 8-4:30 instead of 12:30-9, but it also meant benefits and job security, and since the position was pretty much created for me, I took it without question.
In March 2008, I moved about 100 miles away from our corporate office (I had been living 3 miles away) and instead of letting me go, I was given the opportunity to work from home. There were varying stipulations through the years. For awhile I had to come to the office once every two weeks. Then it was once a month. At some point I was only going about 4 times a year, and then it finally dwindled to once a year (for our big company meeting).
It's been seven years since I walked into the lobby without a clue, dressed in black slacks and a nice shirt, blindly following instructions and hoping I was doing things adequately. In that time, I've gotten awards, promotions, and raises. I've gone from a complete outsider to part of a family, to part of a new family, to just a name in a sea of employees. From dress clothes to pajamas, and smoke breaks to laundry breaks. A lot has changed.
And yet, somehow, I still feel like I did that first night, alone and unsure of myself, wondering what I'm doing here and where it'll lead. Trying to figure out how I got to this point and when the rest of my life is going to start.
Seven years. Time does fly...