Time to Make Work Work.
by Christina Michael
In the course of interviewing for the full time, contract officer job, I had to call my job references. Remember the old boss to whom I cried (a.k.a. Old Boss #1)? He was one of them. Immediately, Old Boss #1 asked, “Do you really want to work full time?” Of course I’d prefer something flexible that paid enough to justify the expense of going back to work (emotional and financial [childcare and work clothes made after Y2K]). But Old Boss #1 was not prepared to offer that deal (at least not now).
My second reference was my old law firm boss from 10 years ago (a.k.a. Old Boss #2). He, too, asked if I really wanted to go back to work on full time basis. Then, he added, “Why don’t you come and work for us on a part time basis.” Hmmm. That sure sounded attractive. But did I really want to go practice law again? As I’ve said before and all lawyers know, it can be such difficult, grueling work, which was exactly the reason behind my attempts to “reinvent my career wheel.” I told him I would have to consider the part time proposal and weigh it against the full time opportunity.
I thought about the part time opportunity and the full time opportunity. I crunched some numbers, both economic and emotional (full time work that sounded far more “fun” and new, part time work that was more flexible but very hard lawyer work) and then came up with a part time, hourly rate proposal. I phoned Old Boss #2 and suggested the hourly rate I had calculated as well as the reasoning behind the rate. After a very long, in fact eternal, moment of silence, Old Boss #2 said he’d have to get back to me.
Days and weeks passed with no return phone call from Old Boss #2. I persisted and left voice mails for Old Boss #2. Finally, one day when I found the chutzpah to call Old Boss #2 for a third time, Old Boss #2’s voicemail did not answer my call. “Hi, Christina.” (voicemail can be so much easier sometimes, especially since I was shaking like a leaf – guess my prayers of leaving a message weren’t going to be answered this time). “Oh, hi,” I said to Old Boss #2. Any news on my part time, hourly rate proposal? “Yes.” Eternal Moment of Silence #2. Had I asked for too much? Was I not worth the value I had placed on myself? Breaking the Moment of Silence #2, Old Boss #2 finally said the firm was willing meet my terms except at a far lower hourly rate. I asked, “How much less?” I thought, “bargain basement, Filene’s Basement rates?” Then I heard “Half.” Had I misheard Old Boss #2? “Half, really, truly?” I responded? “Yes, half,” he said. Because of the flexibility and the part time nature of the work, as well as the cavernous gap in my resume (recall, 6 years), the firm felt that half of the amount that I had requested was appropriate.