Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oh Hey, That Was Fast....

So I was very excited to start my job with the Fund for Public Interest in New Haven. I got there on the 27th and worked a full day and really enjoyed doing the office work, meeting with a team, and of course getting to know the in's and out's of the organization.

Needless to say, I was overexcited to have a job. It was great timing, but as usual, the path in life towards the right direction takes time.

I wanted to write this blog because before even starting my job, I did research into the Fund or PIRGs. Needless to say, the reviews were quite scathing. Job firings, quotas, long hours, etc.

I wanted to say, as a person who on their first day saw 2 people get fired for not making quota, the scathing results are not wrong, but with everything, there is a twist.

The twist is that depending on the office you work in and the Directors you have, the people who are on their "third day" of not making quota can be quite aware of what will happen if they do not raise enough money by the end of the night. In the New Haven office, I was happy to find out that the people that we had to fire KNEW what was coming LONG before. I am not excusing it or saying that they were right for having that stipulation but from all the scathing reviews, people were not just fired without knowing it would happen. The people that were interviewed that came in for an "Observation Day" were either invited back or not. It depended on how good their Field Managers thought they would be at fundraising out on their own, which they did the next day.

The next thing I want to talk about is the hours. You have to know what you are signing up for before the job. Yes, it is a 12 hour day, yes they are long. I was an Assistant Director, so I was able to be in the office for 12 hours the first day. They were long but the amount of work that they make the Directors and Assistant Directors is insane. The Fund at a corporate level is POORLY run and that, in the case of the smaller offices (unless your Directors aren't morons) makes the working environment very HARD.

I have to say I loved my first day. I loved working in the office, doing the paper work, making phone calls, talking to the Regional manger, everything. I went home, even after a LONG DAY, and really enjoyed my time. I loved the office part but I knew the next day I would have to go out into the field and do the other part: the canvassing.

I want to be honest. I went into this with the most OPEN MIND that I could have. I went out with my Director and went door to door (even Michelle Bachman's brothers door to be exact) and gave the "Rap," that I have committed to memory the night before. I knew it but I will say that if you don't know it or have a hard time committing things to memory, this job will not be for you. I am lucky enough to be able to "think on my feet" and therefore while I was out canvassing and talking to people who were not the nicest nor the happiest that I was knocking on their door and then asking them for money, I was able to quickly respond to their quips and questions that they had that did not relate to my overall purpose.

I kept hearing from my director that "Connecticut is the best place to canvass," and the truth of the matter is that from what I understand, it really is. People were bring in hundreds of dollars and our office was the second highest in the nation. People just GAVE money to these random strangers on their doorsteps who gave them the "rap." That's it. It was insane. But honestly, as the blogs and other reports have questioned, "where does the money actually go" is a big question I still have and had at the end of the night.

I knew I hated the canvassing part of the job around 6:00p.m. when we had to go back to houses that had either not been home or ones that had "lights on." My director was very sweet but frankly, it takes a different type of person to mercilessly go back just because you want to "get another 20 dollars."

I wondered, as my director waved like a trained monkey at every person who came to the door, how this actually works. Needless to say, I tried to disguise my true feelings until I went back to the office that night. I was quite unhappy. I was torn because I loved the office part of the job but absolutely HATED the canvassing aspect.

To be absolutely honest, I felt like I needed to walk around with a clump of dirt to throw on people's carpets or floors the moment they opened the door to try and sell them a vaccuum that they did not want nor need. The looks on people's faces, as they drove by us in our Conn-PIRG shirts, was to say the least, one of the main reasons I did not go back.

That point leads me to comment on how they recruit. Basically, they poster and post jobs on Craigslist to try and get "New Canvassers" every day. These people, not knowing the organization that well, call because they promise $15-20 dollars an hour, which as we all know in today's economy can help a lot of people. The FUND takes everyone. That part the blogs and scathing results cannot lie about. They TAKE EVERYONE who comes in and interviews and sends them out because you never know who will be a "good or bad canvasser."

There is a sad reality to all of this though. Canvassing in Connecticut does have some connotations to it and they are mostly ones of color. As my Director said, after she had to fire the one Black male canvasser, "He has been getting a lot of racist comments at the doors." Apparently, the rich Connecticut people did not like a large black man walking their streets and coming up to their doors. It was sad and hard to see and I didn't know what to say. I had to bite my tongue because all of the men that I had talked to on the phone and then interviewed the next day were black and they were all going to fall victim to this scam. It was hard to see because racism is still VERY PRESENT in this country and it victimizes at the earliest levels.

With all of this aside, I came home after a LONG and SWEATY day completely distraught. I wanted to stay with the job for longer than just two days but I honestly couldn't go back the next day and go out canvassing by myself to raise the quota of $130 bucks.

I couldn't be by myself ALL DAY and have people stare and me and look at me like I am garbage. I am not and will not ever do that to myself because I have worked too hard and done too much to further myself.

I talked with my Director and the "other me" at the end of the night and told them exactly everything I have written here. They said that they too "hated canvassing" when they first started and that I shouldn't just quit right now and to "stick it out." I honestly felt like they wanted and needed another warm body in there and that was it.

I came home defeated. I stayed up all night and talked with several people but by the end of the night I knew what I was going to do.

I called my Director the next morning, because I honestly could not get out of bed to go back and degrade myself like that again. I quit the job after two days of highs and extreme lows.

I knew that I was essentially "rolling the dice" with this move. What was I going to do next? Where was I going to turn? and what job could or should I get?

The answers to all these questions, like with most things, are still up in the air. For right now I still know what is important to me but I need to make sure that the job I do or what I study is something I am passionate about. I need to make sure that I am happy and in order to do that I need to get back on track with the overall end goal: PhD

So that's where I am. Waiting, wondering, and hoping that all will work out and if my life has told me anything up until now its that it does and I always seem to find a way back onto the right path.