On average, the typical American spends about 9-10 hours a day at work. That’s 45-50 hours a week (not including weekends, which I know many of us work), and 180-200 hours a month. For a lot of us, our jobs define who we are. They dictate our moods, health, relationships, creativity levels and lifestyles. So, if our careers are so integral and consuming, they should be good, right? I know a lot of jobs suck and sometimes we have to take a job so the bills get paid. I get reality. But what if somewhere down the road you finally land your dream job? You know, that job you’ve fantasized about as a kid or teenager? The ideal job. To me, this means:
1. There’s free coffee.
Of course this isn’t a must, but it’s certainly nice when the first thing you smell at the office is beautiful, beautiful coffee.
2. Your boss is someone you could have a beer with.
I’ve had all kinds of bosses. Bosses who were rude, bosses who were creepy, bosses who clearly had authority issues, bosses who were scary… I think you get the picture. It’s never fun working under a bad boss, or a boss who makes you think your job is on the line as a scare tactic. Bosses should be supportive, they should have your back and they should make you feel appreciated.
3. Your work clothes do not include a visor, tacky polo shirt or name tag.
Personally, I am happy I never have to wear a work uniform again (see: Panera Bread Gina ’06, Terrible Retirement Home Gina ’08). I love that I am able to wear whatever I want (within reason) when I go to work or when I stay home and work.
4. You don’t have to watch your back around your co-workers.
Unhealthy relationships with co-workers are the worst. The economy is still pretty crappy and the job market is tough; this predicament brings out the worst in people. I know we all want raises, and if someone is being promoted, that means someone else is not. Being sneaky and manipulative to get to the top is just not cool. I know I’ve never been that kind of person, and I hate dealing with people who are. Being able to trust your co-workers or even be friends with them is such a valuable part of a job.
5. There are health benefits.
You knew this was coming. With Obamacare, you have to be covered, and I know some unhappy people who have bought health insurance that doesn’t even cover a whole lot. It’s a new system, and we have to patient I guess, but in the meantime, it’s awesome when your job pays for your health insurance or offers it. It’s usually a lot cheaper this way, and most companies even offer vision and dental, which is great.
6. You can actually take time off (and still get paid for it).
Flexibility is super important. If you want to go on a vacation or need a day to yourself, you should be able to have that and not worry about your job security. Or worse, worry that things will go horribly awry when you’re gone. If you’re not a business owner, you shouldn’t be the only glue that holds your workplace together. You should have coworkers who will cover you, and a boss who is totally okay with your temporary absence.
7. You get feedback.
I hate working somewhere and constantly wondering if I’m doing a good job. I know as a server or barista, no one really cares unless you’re constantly pissing customers off or eating all the food in the freezer (I have totally eaten a slice of cake in a freezer. No regrets). You don’t need a bedazzled gold star every day, but an occasional check-in with your boss or manager is nice so you know if you’re on the right track or if they have any suggestions for you. That way, you’re no longer in the dark, and you can become a better employee.
8. You can afford nice things now.
I’m not saying you need to be in it for the money. I teach and write so we all know that’s the last thing I’m in it for (except maybe for the free dry erase markers). You should do what you love, but you should also be able to afford an occasional splurge (whatever that means to you). At the very least, you should be able to save a little bit of money each month for a house, car, or retirement. It’s never fun living paycheck to paycheck.
9. The commute is not treacherous.
I’ve done a 45 minute commute, but I know several adjunct professors who drive from LA to San Diego to teach a single class. Times are tough, and a long commute is sadly becoming more and more common. Not only will you become extremely familiar with the freeway and top 40, but you will spend a stupid amount of money on gas. For me, the perfect commute is under twenty minutes, or 4-5 songs on my iPod.
10. You get to come home at the end of the day, and be proud of what you created.
I’m sorry that I’m not sorry that sounds a little cheesy, but you should be able to go home and feel good about yourself. Jobs can be stressful and tiring, and there is no way around it. But in the end, there should be a payoff; your hard work and devotion should be worth it. Like, teaching is really hard. In weird ways, such as making sure you help your student but don’t just give them an answer because you want them to figure it out on their own. And I love writing, but the amount of times I’ve second-guessed myself or been rejected is crazy. But those aspects are part of the deal. Our jobs should be challenging. They should push us and make us think. But our jobs should also help us grow as individuals and ultimately make us happy.
11. You get to do what you love.
This should go without saying. If you had the opportunity to take the job you’ve always dreamed of, you most likely love what it entails. If you love working with numbers, fashion, editing, directing, acting, designing, then do it! What’s stopping you?
What requirements do you have for a dream job??