Working & Under 30 | It Isn’t Perfect

This week’s guest post is from Wendy over at whatthelog. You’ll find her details at the end!

In some ways, my journey towards employment was relatively straightforward.

I did an undergraduate degree at the University of Warwick, and then a masters degree at University College London. From there, I went into a graduate job. Simple enough. 

But not really. There’s something you need to know about me – I have both a chronic illness and mental disabilities (fibromyalgia, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and depression). This means that I find a lot of workplace dynamics really challenging. Commuting and getting up early are difficult, and actually making sure I look presentable is, some days, nearly impossible. I sometimes need breaks throughout the day to calm myself down. I sometimes can’t bring myself to leave the house. 

When I started job hunting, I was really worried.

I knew that I had the skills to do a variety of marketing jobs, but I was applying to big, established companies such as Scholastic and Oxford University Press. Perhaps unfairly, I didn’t expect much flexibility from them. And I wasn’t getting any offers, either.

But then I had a random chat with a friend about my job hunting woes, and he challenged me to change my tactic. Instead of going for very traditional marketing roles, he mentioned that I might try a job in a start-up. They’re more likely to be flexible, he said. So I looked on a start-up job job database, and there were a whole host of jobs that actually encouraged their employees to work from home. 

Now I work as a Sales and Marketing Executive in a small start-up company. My position is relatively unique because there are only two of us in the company – me and the CEO! I also work from home at least four days a week. This is pretty perfect for me because of its flexibility, as well as the general informality of the office when I do go in. It also means that I have a lot more responsibility in my role than I would have had at a more traditional employer. 

I’m not saying it’s perfect – I am making less money that I could be in a more traditional role.

I definitely am privileged in this way, as I live with a partner who makes enough money so that my lower salary doesn’t affect us too much. However, looking for alternatives to traditional roles has also allowed me to maintain a level of good mental health that I think I would have found impossible in a bigger and more rigidly structured company.

I would urge anyone, but particularly those who do need more flexibility at work, to think about start-ups as a real and viable option as an employer. 

Wendy is a blogger at whatthelog where she talks about books, fat activism, and mental health. She also runs a specific mental health book blog at Mind the Page. She currently works as a Sales and Marketing Executive at a small start-up company. 

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