I used to love contract jobs.
They allowed me to work at many of my favorite companies and see what their headquarters were like, meet the staff and work on unique design projects, from holiday cards and packaging to transferring 150 skus from one brand to another.
Contracts also allowed me to work all over the Bay Area. Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Petaluma, Marin, the Presidio, Marina, North Beach, the Mission and downtown San Francisco. This taught me how to get around the city, use BART, bike paths, bike cages and building bike storage rooms. I would never say I didn’t love every opportunity I had to grow my skills at each of these roles. They all taught me something I value and have added to my single adult life skill set and designer’s tool belt.
So, why aren’t you accepting contracts any more?
I used “The 5 Whys” to answer this question.
What are “The 5 Whys?”
“The 5 Whys” is an interrogative technique used to explore cause-and-effect relationships that underly a problem.
Here’s how I used this technique to analyze why I can no longer accept contracts if I want to succeed.
I need a full-time, permanent job that offers me a chance to design AND use Salesforce at a Senior or Manager level.
Because I invested two years learning a lot about Salesforce with Trailhead, TrailheadDX and Dreamforce and I don’t want to take a role that doesn’t involve Salesforce in some “on-the-job” capacity. I also want the role to involve my 20+ years of design skills, marketing and events and my ability to wear many hats. This job also needs to pay well enough to afford housing on my own.
Because I’ve proven that I can’t handle having a roommate because it takes away from my own focus on my job and I really need to master my next role and not lose the job or apartment. We are in Covid times, and I want to stay healthy and not worry about who a roommate has been in contact with. I also want to be able to have my teenage sons visit me when they want a break from their father or need help with a college project or just want to do something with mom.
I’ve had so many short-term contract jobs that I emotionally and physically can’t handle it anymore. I also proved, over a three year period (2016–2019), that this was not financially sustainable.
Contracting forced me to borrow money from my family for housing that I couldn’t pay back and eventually, I had to live in my car just to be able to afford to work in San Francisco. Though it was exciting and fun at first, parking all over the city and coast, waking up and biking to the rock climbing gym to shower and then biking to work… there were tickets, car break-ins and other worries. My kids and parents are now very concerned about me and they don’t believe in my ability to solve this problem and support myself.
When you take a contract job, it takes time to get you set up with payroll. You aren’t paid for the first two weeks (sometimes even longer) and then if you finish the project and they let you go after those first two weeks, you haven’t made any progress because you have to start all over again and you suddenly can’t afford your lease or Airbnb, etc… The constant job-hopping also creates a very difficult problem for being able to remember/document all the places you’ve lived. You don’t have a long-term job on your resume and you look like a mess to most businesses, when in fact, you have worked very hard and managed to help companies get through difficult transitions, vacations, weddings, etc… Maybe you even held down the fort on your own, worked overtime two weeks straight and did the work of several people, but it doesn’t always look that way on a resume.
Over the past four years, though I was being paid $50. an hour and up, I still never made more than 20k annually. Meanwhile, my sons’ father was making over $150,000 a year, and not paying me alimony or helping because we were never married. Contracting, though fun for learning all about San Francisco and many cool companies, did not help me financially. I am still grateful for each role and experience, but I know I am ready to land at a full-time, permanent role where I will be able to work with many people and advance my career and financial means. No one should be forced to live in their car to work long-term. I enjoyed my attempt at it, and it was my idea to try this, but after a total of 9 months* in my car (*not consecutively- 5 months was the longest without an AirBnb) I am positive I want to do better for myself and my sons. I don’t want my parents to worry about me.
If I ever was in a band someday and got to travel in a bus with friends, that would be different. I’m not against trying new ways of living as we are battling a climate crisis and may need to be more adaptable and mobile, but I want to feel my work supports me, my health and my housing.
I am looking for a full-time role beginning in September in the Bay Area. Hopefully, in SF or somewhere between Mill Valley and Pacifica. My goal is to find a role that allows me to use Salesforce on the job, but also create graphics, marketing and event content as required, and utilize my UX Design and research skills. Being able to jump in on any design or strategy meeting to assist others while learning from smarter experts on Design, Education, Climate Change, Marketing, Science, Music, Health, Tech… *while being paid a true salary that supports my housing long-term* is my current goal.
Feel free to reach out with *permanent* roles that match my skill set.
Thank you so much!
-Colleen M. Proppé