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May 26, 2009

What would you do?

May 26. Day 330.

Dilemma: Let's say you're working for a big company, a reputable company, a rich and powerful company, as a contractor. Let's say that a month after you finished the job, they haven't paid you. They claim they liked your work, and they even want to give you more work, but you're still mulling that missing paycheck. You asked your boss, and she apologizes, says she forgot to file the pay request with HR. A month later, you ask again and she apologizes again, saying she's been swamped with work. Every time, it's a new excuse. Always really nice. Always apologetic. You offer to talk to HR, but she ignores the request. And still, no paycheck.

You've worked for other companies in the industry, so you know it doesn't usually take this long. As far as you can tell, the only explanation is that your boss is reallllllly busy, or she's distracted and doesn't realize how much you need the money really. Probably a little of both.

At what point do you storm in and ask for your money? Talk to your boss's boss? Email HR?

You realize that if you make your boss look bad, she'll be less likely to want to work with you in the future. And except for the minor lack of paycheck part, it's a great job. Great experience. Major resume booster. Definitely want to keep working for them. And minus the delayed paycheck, the boss is awesome. Good feedback, receptive to ideas, everything you want in a boss.

That's what happened today -- I asked once again -- and my boss replied 'so sorry, really busy today, will do it asap.' Again.

What should one do?

What would you do?

Any advice out there??? Sigh.

Gained: Still nothing.

After this phone call and email, I met up with Tee, a friend who's in town. Tee was a regular feature of this blog a few months ago -- she lives in Northern California, where she's a professor.

In high school, she was the first person I ditched with. It was "cross-cultural day," and ironically that was the day we decided to skip out. Ironic, because she is one of the most cultural people I know. Travels the world, speaks several languages, has friends of many backgrounds. And I love other cultures as least as much as my own. But her fresh driver's license, new Ford explorer (in the glorious gas guzzling days of the late 90s! now she has a Prius) and the nearby Denny's (now a gas station, alas) meant FREEDOM.

Today, she gave me her take on life in academia, and the more I think about it, the less inclined I am to apply for university jobs. For her, it's perfect. She's brilliant. An intellectual powerhouse, and a gifted teacher. As for me, for 7 years, in grad school, I've been in academia but yearning to get out. Working on the side in my secret industry, now blogging. Always planning my academia exit strategy. If I were a prof, it might only be so I could count down until I could get out again, once tenure review came up. Is that fair to my students? fair to me?

I know, mama, you think I should be a professor. "What an easy lifestyle! You teach for an hour, then relax all day!" Well, why don't you chat with Tee? Heehee.

Any other profs out there want to back me up? Comments welcome below!

Who knows. Maybe I'll give academia a shot, if I find something really compatible. But more likely, not.

Talking to Tee, though, gave me a great career idea. I'd never have to beg for a paycheck again. It's a growing field. It's a natural progression given my professional backgrounds. And if I play my cards right, I could name my own salary.

Now, just have to make it happen!!!!!

(No asking involved here, but since this blog is, to a degree, about becoming assertive, planning a career trajectory and preparing to negotiate that magical starting salary, this idea is one piece in the puzzle.)
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