Suicidal thoughts. Spiraling disinterest. If you’ve ever had a job you hated, you know the feeling. These four guys told their bosses what they could do with their crappy gigs and followed their dreams.
UPS Manager to Lawyer
Andy Barton, 32
The Previous Job
I worked at UPS as a manager. Boxes would come down the conveyor belt and I would have to make sure that people were loading them properly and sorting them to the right trucks. I was in charge of whether these eight or 10 people skipped work or did their job. It was kind of like babysitting.
It was a pretty simple job, but there was nowhere to go with it. And there wasn’t much thought involved. Basically it was me letting them know I was boss and trying to get them to do stuff they were supposed to do anyway. It was a pain in the ass to be that person. You’re working in a factory, so everything is pretty much set in stone. If you come up with innovations, there’s no way to implement them. I was more interested in using my head and working on helping design how things work, helping make it work better. But that wasn’t part of my job. I might’ve been able to get to a position to change that, but the best managers—the guys who got promoted—were the ones who yelled the loudest, and I didn’t want to be that guy. I found that mindless and macho.
The Turning Point
I had two kids by the time I was 21. I was trying to support a family and was doing whatever I could to put food on the table, but I really didn’t like the stuff I was doing at UPS. I knew I had to go back to school, but I also knew I had to make money. I studied political science in undergrad. In those jobs, or even to get into good schools, you need to do internships to advance that career. Law school is based mostly on grades and the LSAT, so I could get into a good law school without having any experience. So I applied and got in.
The New Job
I’m a judicial clerk for a judge in New York City, and I help the judge handle some of the cases and do administrative work. If he’s trying to settle a case, I’ll go with him and take notes and give him feedback on what’s going on. He often wants to bounce his ideas off of someone, and I’m that sounding board.
I think I’m a cerebral person, and this job is almost all reading and writing and talking about ideas. If a case makes it all the way to the judge, it’s going to be a pretty close call. The judge’s decision is going to be based on deciding between two totally different interpretations of one idea or law. There are no reactions or impulses at all. With UPS, there was no question of what had to happen. There was no innovation, no two ways about it. Either you do it or you don’t. That’s pretty much the opposite of what it’s like here working as a lawyer for the judge. I’m definitely happier doing this. Plus with UPS, there was only one path. But with the experience I’m gaining here, there are a number of things that I can do. Jobs I’m actually interested in doing.