The Next Chapter

This summer has been a season of change.

My close friend Alicia moved away to go to grad school. My best friend from high school, Mackinley, moved to Portland! Several of my friends were offered new jobs, so we had many celebratory drinks.

Throughout all of this change, I realized I am stagnant.

I have a wonderful apartment that requires no more DIY improvements. I have a steady job with the same schedule and I see the same coworkers every day. I go to the same fitness classes and frequent the same bars on the weekends. Life is good… but predictable – and I started to become boring.

My friend Joe made me realize that the only way to feel fulfilled is to keep challenging yourself, especially in the workplace. Currently, I come to work, complete my list of duties, and then watch the clock until I can leave. I love talking to my coworkers, but I don’t have much passion for optometry. Even in school, I hated the chapters on learning the anatomy of the eye. I simply didn’t find it interesting! I certainly don’t want to become an optometrist or even an optician. I don’t want a career in optometry… so what am I doing here?

I accepted this position because I needed a paycheck, but I stayed because I genuinely enjoyed my coworkers and morale of the office. My first year was exciting because I was still learning the system and how to operate the machines, but now I know. Clicking the same buttons every day has become monotonous. The last two years have given me time to discover the type of work I enjoy. I LOVE when my manager gives me a hands-on project like unpacking the new contact lenses and reorganizing the lens room to make them fit. I don’t quite enjoy talking to patients on the phone and getting screamed at because we don’t have a same-day appointment. My coworkers are amazing extroverts and can strike up a conversation with anyone. They have the type of personality that makes them thrive in customer service. I’ve realized that my skills are more suited for organizational, data-based work. I am certainly friendly and helpful toward patients (I haven’t had any complaints!), but I get so much more satisfaction from completing a project than hearing a patient say “Thank you, Kate!” Different strokes for different folks.

I think my true realization occurred when I was talking to my brother and he urged me to look into project management. It’s a tricky field to get into without experience, but I started looking for any position that was operations-based. I started back in spring, but I didn’t want to settle, so I was picky. I had a couple interviews but nothing felt quite right. In June, I interviewed with a design agency. After a couple more rounds of interviews, they offered me a job!

What is my position? I think of it as being the junior office manager. Technically I’ll be working under the operations manager (and maybe someday becoming it!) and I’ll be handling all of the nitty-gritty details of logistics in the office. I asked for a general run down of my daily responsibilities and they said there is no “normal.” Each day is different, but I’ll be prepping the office for meetings, assisting design teams with projects, delivering hard copies to clients, and a lot of hands-on work putting together projects in the garage (the exact work I was looking for). I’m excited to finally get out of a desk chair!

I start this coming Monday. I know the first couple of weeks will have a learning curve, but I’m not that nervous. I am a quick learner and the company seems filled with friendly people. One of my current coworker’s friends works there! I looked at their Instagram and they definitely have a fun office environment suited for millennials. Every Friday is “bring your pet to work” day!

But when a new door opens… another must close. It was so hard to give my two weeks notice at my current job. My manager has become a close friend. I went to her house for Easter, her husband reads my blog, and I even housesat for them last weekend! It felt like I was breaking up with my Portland family. I’m most upset about not seeing my front desk mate, David. We spend 8 hours per day sitting next to each other… and even more snapchatting after work! Management has likened us to siblings because we always bicker, but deep down we really care.

I’ll also be sad to leave my lunch buddy. For the last two years, I’ve eaten lunch every day with one of the doctors. She is a mother of two, so she always gives me advice when I need it. She’s heard all of my dating stories and was one of the biggest motivators in my departure. She encouraged me not to get stuck here. While it broke my heart to tell her I was leaving, she supported me and said she knew I was capable of bigger and better things. The saddest part is knowing I will never be close to these people again. Sure, I can meet them for drinks (unlikely since they all have families), but there’s always going to be this new distance. It’s a bittersweet goodbye.

Ultimately, I’m excited for this change in my life! The only part I am bummed about is my shift in schedule. Instead of working 6:45-3:45 and avoiding traffic, I have to work the typical 9-6. The office is in the better location, though! It is in the “hip” part of the SE and should be a quicker drive. I’ll report back after my first day!


The Steep Learning Curve

It’s been almost a week since starting my new job at the optometry office and I LOVE it! I have the early morning schedule of 6:45 – 3:45. It is great getting out so early, but waking up at 5:30am is not fun. By the time I go to the gym and make dinner in the evenings, I am pooped by 9pm! I’m sure my body is still adjusting to the sudden change (I was sleeping in until noon before!) and I’ll adapt to the new schedule soon.

I can’t believe I’ve only worked 5 days. I’ve learned so much in that short time. I’m already comfortable answering the phone and taking reservations. I’ve learned how to communicate walk-in customers’ needs to the opticians in the lab. The most challenging task was learning how to pre-screen. You know the tests that are performed before you see the doctor where you have to stare at the balloon/barn/dot while the machine takes measurements of your eyes? I get to administer┬áthose! I shadowed for a few days before finally prescreening a patient alone. It seemed so daunting at first – adjusting the machines, pressing the right settings, printing out all of the results and managing the computer software – but now it feels so manageable. The┬ámost interesting part is operating the machine that takes a photo of the interior of the eye. You can see the retina, optic nerve, and macula. My first few attempts were pretty dark with everything off center, but they are slowly getting better. The doctors haven’t asked me to retake any, so that’s a good sign! The photos below are examples from Wikipedia – so they’re perfect!

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Next week I get to learn about insurance billing and how to calculate all of the exam copays and contact lens exam charges. I’m sure I’ll have it down in just a few short days. The fast pace of the office makes the day go by pretty quickly. While I am still training, I have to work Saturdays which is perfectly fine because they are the slowest, most fun day of the week! Last Saturday, we even got donuts from Blue Star – the place I had been dying to try out.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of my new job is figuring out what to wear! My last job was extremely casual so we could wear jeans, but this is a much more professional environment. I’ve been wearing dresses and cardigans since it is still summer weather, but I’m going to need to find work pants and cute tops! I am at a cafe now, enjoying my day off, but I plan to see what they have at Goodwill in a few hours. You never know what you can find!