When I had first graduated college (Shippensburg) I managed to find a job working for a publishing company stacking newspapers in the press room. It was manual labor and you were on your feet for most of the day, sometimes for double shifts, but it was solid work, first real paycheck, benefits, and experience all balled into one. I simply saw it as a blessing considering it was 2009 and we were at the start of our train wrecked economy. My official position title was written down as material handler. On busy days I worked with a newspaper stacker which adjusted to all forms of shapes and sizes and on slow days I cleaned and maintained the press. Now I hated cleaning while growing up which does not mean I hate getting filthy but I find it tedious work to do regularly so when I clean something I scrub the ever living fuck out of it so much that demons cant even possess it just so I don’t have to do it again for awhile. When you are getting paid for it it’s a different story so I secretly celebrated those days because it meant I could lie on my back and clean rather than stand all day on a concrete floor. My usual cleaning procedure involved wiggling into a very fashionable jumpsuit, throwing on a hat (getting ink out of your hair is a bitch), and finding a janitor belt that could hold every piece of rag and cleaner it could carry. Next I would invest in one of the more interesting skills I had that most of the guys there couldnt do or wouldnt do. I would crawl into the guts of the press and scrub the crap out of the insides. At the time I was 165 lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal with 6 feet of height so it was not uncommon to see my legs sticking out of a hole somewhere in the press three feet in the air. After a while my foreman began to notice and permanently put me on the maintenance rotation schedule. My stacking days went from slim to none after that. After about two months of being shoulder deep in ink my foreman got to talking to me about my history, what my degree was in, and whatnot. Two weeks later I was called into the office of a department we were not allowed to step foot in, because of the ink. Short version, I was offered a job on third shift working in the CTP (computer to plate) department. This new position involved a raise, a chance to work with my field (color correction, formatting, picture adjustment, etc.) and next to zero ink. Of course I immediately accepted the offer and asked the question of why me? Her response was pretty standard with my degree and all but she made a point of highlighting the fact that if I was willing to crawl inside those disgusting presses day after day then I must have one hell of a work ethic and she wanted it back in her department.
This job was close to four years ago before I went to grad school and that statement was a lesson that stuck with me. It is true that climbing the corporate ladder is much trickier than it was before but a few of the fundamental laws are still present. I think they have just switched hands in importance of acknowledgement. Of the fundamentals there are three that I have noticed the most. Networking (obviously), communication, and hard work. The first two are pretty self explanatory. You network to build your contacts and you never stop because the more people you know, and know you, the better off you are. Communication is a strong support to networking it updates people on your growing skills and positions and keeps you noticed at your job and out in the world also it helps with the CYA (cover your ass) at your place of employment. The last one is the one I believe that many people tend to forget to act on. Actions speak louder than words and in this case its hard work. Its very difficult to keep this up when you are caught in a routine at your job, which many of us have experienced, and have hit a spot of stagnation. I have found that the easiest way to maintain this is to keep it simple and keep it small. For example, if a colleague is behind on busy work you could go and offer to lessen the load, stay an extra hour on Friday to save an hour on Monday, arrive early, or save someone five minutes of time. That last ones my favorite and goes hand in hand with helping out a colleague because its not too taxing to your work effort and five minutes could mean the world to someones work day. People remember the little stuff if done consistently enough and will often return the favor as well as provide new and better opportunities sometimes. There is one thing you need to look out for and that is to know when you are helping out and when you are being taken advantage of. Helping someone out multiple times could evolve the colleague into thinking that the task you are doing for them is no longer their responsibility. This problem is difficult to reverse and sucks even more when its a manager or higher up who you are trying to help so try and stay alert for that and avoid it if you can. Don’t let it discourage you though because most of the time that can be an honest mistake and everyone makes those. Just remember that you want you and your colleague to benefit from the hard work and maybe just save someones five minutes of time.
Awesome things about working third shift
1. Going home on Friday at 7AM
2. Watching everyone try to go to work at 7AM while you are going home
3. You have a valid argument to drink at 7AM during family holidays (hey its technically your 5PM)
4. 7AM bars are the shit and tend to serve the best Keg and Eggs
5. Some of the most interesting people work third shift