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Great work flexibility, but I'm bored

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Question: I work for a government contractor in Washington, D.C., with fewer than 15 employees. I was hired three years ago as an accounts payable clerk, but my duties are more along the lines of an administrative assistant. The pay is good: I've gotten a raise two of the past three years.

But I'm debating whether I should stay or go.

I haven't left yet because I have such a great boss. He is very supportive and understanding of my being a single parent and part-time student. (I'm a year and a half away from my bachelor's degree in accounting.) He allows me to bring my child with me to work whenever necessary and take time off during midterms and finals to study. Although he is great to work for, I feel like I'm not making any progress professionally.

My problem is that I'm bored at work. I've tried asking for more, but there isn't more for me to do. My other problem is that I spend roughly about four hours a day commuting. I make the trek every day because of the flexibility I have.

I'm questioning if having a job with this much flexibility is worth this amount of unhappiness. Any thoughts?

Thanks.  -- Feeling stuck and unhappy


A year and a half more is a long time to be unfilled in your job. And the commute makes it even more bitter to me. I suggest you ask them to give you work that fits your title or start looking elsewhere.

The degree is great but hands on experience is really what you need to get a great job so you should be working your way there now.

Good luck!

A great question to ask is whether you will be working there once you achieve your Accounting Degree. If not, it really doesn't matter if your career is progressing because you haven't started it. Can you imagine if you were restrained with a typical 9-5 that expected you at your desk the entire 8 hours and offered no flexibility at all. Would you be able to keep up with class and your child. The 4 hour commute is a huge stretch, I would try to give that up. But if they are compensating you for it in pay, and maybe reimburse your classes, it sounds like a win. Of course it doesn't hurt to interview closer to home and find out of there is something similar nearby. You really have to look out for yourself, not the company. Just my opinion.

Your priority right now should be to finish your degree. Are the classes you are taking close to home or close to work? If they are close to work, you will still have commute time to worry about even if you change jobs. If classes are close to home, there might be some value in looking for a job closer to home as well. That being said, searching for and finding a new job is time-consuming. Starting a new job is stressful and likely won't have the flexibility you currently enjoy. I would encourage you to stay where you are until you are much closer to finishing your degree.

I myself have a boss like yours amidst a sea of managers who tie their admins to the phone, the office, the copier, etc. So I appreciate the benefits of having a flexible, understanding boss. I wouldn't toss that away so quickly. You are a year and a half away from a degree. Can you stick it out and use your "bored" time to get in a little extra study inobtrusively? Once you obtain the degree, your duties should change, simply because of that degree, either within this company or elsewhere. If you like this company in every way except the workload, I say stick it out until this big part of your life is completed. Then if you are in an apartment, maybe you and your child can rent one closer than 4 hours away. Or rent one closer to the company with the job you want once you have your degree. Best of luck with everything.

Most careers won't afford you the flexibility with child and school. After you graduate will you still be there or will the job end. I would hang in there until you finish school. Personally speaking as a single parent, going to school at night and holding down a full time job at one time i wanted to change jobs because I was not feeling fulfilled, it was a terrible mistake and three months later I called and got my old job back. I stayed until I completed my degree and then moved on within the same company just a different city. Good Luck

I can totally understand your pain. As a person who is struggling to complete my undergrad degree too, I can more than sympathize. I agree with the previously written comments: make finishing your degree a priority. I have worked for various types of employers while pursuing my degree, and to fine one that is willing to work with you in accomplishing this personal goal is invaluable. I have had bosses who resented my college classes and even went so far as to sabotage my progress. If you can stick it out and get your degree, than do so. And you'll have the tools to demand a more challenging position. Remember to ask yourself: do you NEED more challenge AND your course work at this time? Plus a Vice President of Finance once told me: "There is never any harm in looking. "Looking" doesn't mean you're leaving." Should the right opportunity present itself: closer to home, more challenging AND conducive to your finishing school. Then, JUMP!!!

You know I empathize with you; I am working and going to school too; my children are not young but it is still a huge undertaking and I have a husband. However, I agree with one comment about looking around but try to be patient until you get your degree. If you leave now and go somewhere else you may not have the same flexibility and will REALLY be miserable, so my suggestion is that I know you don't have much additional work to do but you can STUDY and abide your time until you finish and then fly the coop. The grass is not always greener when you have more work to do on top of raising a child by yourself and having to study too!! Think about making yourself busy with stuff until you walk across that stage!!

There are basically two aspects to any job. 1) the work and 2) the people. Not many can say they enjoy both the work they do and the people they work with, it is a rarity to have both. If your job (people) is accomodating to your family situation, stay. You can always fill your down-time with studying. If you are renting why not move closer to work to cut down on the commute. When you think about it 1 1/2 years is not long to endure. Remember that many companies accomodate when an employee is working towards a degree, with the prospect of an upward move when it is completed. Why not ask? That might help with your decision.

I'm in a similar position. I work with great people and I'm paid well for the work I do. But I'm bored, unchallenged, and have no growth potential if I stay here. I'm actually in the process of looking for another job right now. Because you're working toward your degree right now, though, I would recommend you stick it out until you finish. In the meantime, you might ask your manager (since he sounds pretty understanding) if he can give you more work related to what you actually want to do career-wise. Good luck!

Try looking at things from a different perspective. Your boss sounds like a gift from heaven especially since you are pursuing a degree and taking care of a family with a full time job. Why not take advantage of his flexibility while you complete your degree. A degree will put you in a better position to find a job closer to home that gives you the satisfaction you are looking for. You will have experience along with a degree. The commute sounds terrible but a necessary evil right now given your situation.

You might also look for things in your work environment that could use process improvements. You could take the initiative and present your boss with your ideas. Have a discussion with him about taking on some special projects. I'm two years away from a degree in business administration. I followed my own advice and it has helped with boredom and underutilization.

I wish you nothing but the best.

I would stay with the job until a degree is obtained. It is possbile that you can move up within the company with a degree. Besides that, I would not give up that boss for anything. Not all of us can say that about our bosses. Is it possible for your boss to be cloned?

I say stay. I am currently in a similar position. I have a job that is so boring I have difficulties trying to stay awake. I'm also a single parent, I'm completing my degree and I'm starting my own business. While I hate wasting time at work I've been able to complete all if not most of my homework at my desk. My boss saw me one day smiled asked if I were in school then said, I'm going to lunch. He didn't care. When he needs something he knows its as good as done. When I have to meet new clients (he doesn't know about the business) I can get the time off with no issues. Also, he has never said anything to me when my son has gotten sick or if the school has had a function that I wanted to attend. I say, stay. I know its hard, I mean I have to convince myself everyday to go to work, but I do it. I need the money and while my business is doing pretty good, I can't afford to quit yet. Way your pros and cons for me, I have good benefits, flexibility, and a decent pay. When its time for me to leave in a year and a half, I will have completed my degree, my son will be in kindergarten (he's only 4, I will be buying my own home (hopefully by the end of this year which is another reason to hold onto this job)and I will have a more established buiness. As for the commute, if you are renting see if you can get closer. I know that maybe harder to do with a child but it maybe worth it. Just think about the benefits of staying. You can't guarantee that your next job won't include overtime they didn't mention during the interview or added stress that would affect your study time.

If you can stand the commute, I would stay. I'm sure you use that time wisely by studying or listening to Self Help tapes, etc. In all careers, I think we all get bored eventually. Besides, your boss knows since you are working on your degree, you won't be there forever. You won't find your current flexibility other places! Ask your boss for more responsibilities to alleviate boredom. Congratulations!

Stay at your job until you get your degree. The degree is your "ticket" to become a professional accountant & you should do nothing to jeopardize it. If it is possible, can you move closer to your job? If not, a year and a half is not really that long, considering that you will have the tools to pursue a real career. As far as the job is concerned, do what you can & use the time to pursue your other interests. For example, maybe you could search the web to find out more about the accounting profession path, how long does it take to get CPA, where classes could be held, etc.

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