love my job...
As a JRE
I can imagine, from the bad moments that even I have experienced in my 9 months to date, that the ‘I hate ’ article is going to be pretty gruesome, so here is a rapid case for the defence. I do, actually, love my job as a junior researcher and I can say why in but a few words...
1 the people. The atmosphere is relaxed and my fellow workers don ’t take themselves too seriously. They are clever, clear-thinking people who do something useful but they ’re not snooty about it. That came as a bit of a shock actually, after interviews with 4 merchant banks during the milk round.
2 the social life. Drinks after work – and during it when there ’s a late night session on, but don ’t tell the management. The certain camaraderie that exists between people massochistically sacrificing their evening for the sake of a probably- ungrateful client.
3 the licence that we have to go out and snoop on other people ’s jobs and lives. People enjoy being asked questions and given the chance to talk about what they do and why they do it. At least the people who have been recruited for us – and for the most part I am spared the first contacts – thanks to Field for that..
Being a dilettante in this fashion makes for very interesting work. I am getting to know a different industry every few weeks, at least at first and in a rough and ready way – but I ’m cushioned from making a fool of myself because I ’m working with clever and pleasant people who vet what I say and do, pre-client, as it were.
4 I ’ve chosen this job because I do believe in it – I’m a cynic and I don ’t imagine that everything we do is useful, but a good proportion is, and for every report that props up the proverbial table leg there ’s one that results in some decent, visible action on the client ’s behalf ’– we are helping to put people in touch with their customers, plan new products and services, and compete effectively.
So I’m doing something that makes a difference with people I like, and on the whole it ’s interesting and useful for my future, whatever I end up doing. I might even end up still in research. A lot of people seem to spend their whole working lives doing it, and that has to be a good sign for a profession. Or does it just mean that there ’s no way out? Well, read the ‘Hate ’ article for the pessimistic view if you want it, because thus far at least I love my job!
hate my job...
As a Grad Trainee
It takes a while, after starting as a graduate trainee, to realise what a lousy lot you have. There is a definite glow of achievement upon making it onto the scheme in the first place, which needs to wear off, but when it does , the drab landscape of JRE-dom is exposed around you.
Many of the worst things about being at the bottom of the heap are things which one will, sadly, perpetuate when one claws one ’s way up through it. It will be enjoyable to watch the baby researchers squirm, trying to make a good impression despite a faint feeling of not knowing what the hell is going on, lasting at least for the first couple of months. Your seniors, from REs and SREs up to Directors, take the credit for projects whilst making you do the donkey work. This includes the dull bits of drawing up code frames and checking specs, a lot of mindless ringing around loosely termed ‘desk research ’ and a lot of go-betweening with Field and Tabs staff. Worst of all, by far, however, is the business of checking tables.
Everyone knows that SREs and Project Managers are the busiest people in research agencies – so we won ’t argue with that. An unfortunate side effect of this is that they don ’t generally have time to plan ahead when they specify tables, and most adhere to the principle of ‘If you think it might be useful, specify it ’The result is gigantic stacks of paper, of which maybe one in ten sheets will bear a statistic of interest – the remainder need to be ‘gone through ’ first for accuracy, to generate edits, and then seeking pearls of wisdom for a presentation.
Any training one received for doing this is inadequate, as evidenced by the fact that after 4 hours one is on table 18 out of 260, but when the person who told you to do it comes along and finds you so little advanced, he or she will grab the heap, take it as far as table 50 in about ten minutes and give it back to you in disgust. Obviously it ’s something that just comes with time – or maybe with lack of it.. You can consider yourself to have landed on your feet, in no uncertain terms, if you are a JRE able to see over the top of the first pile of tables without standing up at your desk. Compared to this nightmare, the little matter of not being paid enough – not nearly – is over-rated as a source of grievance. We ’ll get back those of our contemporaries who chose banking or consultancy instead when in later life they realise they have contributed nothing to society or their clients, and grown fat on the proceeds, and are overcome by guilt. Like Hell we will.
That ’s almost enough – and I haven’t even mentioned the drudgery of having to sit the MRS ‘Advanced Certificate of Market and Social Research Practice ’ when you thought your days of frantic revision and hand cramps from furious writing were over after Uni; or the all-night session a friend endured after completing a presentation for his manager at 6pm the night before and then realising the whole thing was based on tables with a major flaw running all through them, every one. Who was the JRE who checked them? Having no-one but yourself to blame, sadly, feels like scant consolation.