A full-time job + part-time job that is 40 miles away = burnout???
September 3, 2015 1:23 AM   Subscribe

I currently work for a mental health insurance company as an administrative assistant for the past 10 months. I have unfortunately found out that working in a cubicle for 8 hours a day is not optimal for me.

Straight to the point, I don't think I'm a good fit for an office assistant position that involves looking at the computer all day. Mundane and repetitive tasks like scanning documents, creating hanging file folders, and updating spreadsheets take up the majority of my day. I longed for the days that I use to deal with patients face to face when I was working at an optical department inside the local mall. I took pride in giving the best customer service and being knowledgable about eyewear. The end result of my work were repeat customers who would bring their family members or refer their friends or neighbors to us for eye exams/eye glasses.

I have the opportunity to work with patients again. My former externship instructor put in a good word for me, and I'm about to start a per diem position at a diagnostic imaging center as a MRI assistant. I went to a vocational school to attend a MRI program ten years ago. I found out the hard way that the licensure I obtained was not fully recognized by most hospitals in CA. I ended up working for a shady mom and pop MRI clinic after finishing school, got let go in 2008 which was the start of an awful recession, and decided to go back to school for a Bachelor's Degree. I eventually got a degree in Health Administration. Since 2008, I haven't gotten back to the MRI field and lost confidence along the way to get back into the field due to years of inactivity and etc.

The per diem position is very flexible. The manager from the staffing agency was cool with me in keeping my full-time job that provides benefits. I told her that it would be difficult to give up my full-time position, and she was understanding about it. Once I pass the physical and background check, we would talk about the schedule about working at the imaging center after 5pm on weekdays. I am free on weekends, as they need someone from 8-4:30 on Saturday & Sundays. The only issue I have is how far the imaging center is. It is 40 miles from my first job/home, and my girlfriend mentioned that driving for an hour after my 8-5 job can be exhausting by the time I arrive at the second job. She is afraid that I'll be too tired and be prone to more making mistakes. On top of that, my 15 year car will go through wear and tear faster thus leading to more potential car repairs in the future. She suggested only working one weeknight during the weekdays, and work either Saturday or Sunday. I should have at least one day off a week to rest and/or catch up with other items such as laundry, chores, and etc.

The job doesn't pay that much according to my instructor between the scale of $15-17 an hour. What I'm looking for is getting the hospital experience to add to my resume. My instructor told me that I should not rely on the per diem gig to turn into a full-time position anytime soon. I should look at it for supplemental income and obtaining experience that will make me even more competitive when applying for a hospital closer to home. My main question is: how many hours a week would be reasonable to put towards the second job with the current circumstances? I am conscious of being potentially burnt-out, and don't want to make costly mistakes due to being tired. Has anyone else gone through a similar experience? Any advice/suggestions would be appreciated.
posted by tnar23 to Work & Money (13 answers total)
In your position I'd be doing at least 4 days a week at the second job, if they let me! That's the full weekend and two weeknights. Yeah, burnout is possible, but it's different when you are doing something you really want to do. If it becomes too much, you will have the flexibility to scale back then. (Discuss this plan with the manager of the second job.)

It's the full time job where you're going to struggle with concentration. Try to get enough sleep and stay hydrated!
posted by zennie at 4:48 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, forget the car. You're going to make enough extra money for those repairs or a better replacement.
posted by zennie at 4:55 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I can't see how you can work weeknights, both in terms of hours in the day and burnout. If you leave your job right at 5, you won't get to the imaging center until 6. How late are they open? I'm assuming it's maybe 8 and there's no point in driving two hours round trip for two hours of work. I do karate in the evenings. During the summer, it was five days a week and I had to leave straight from the office. I think there was one week the entire summer where I actually made it every day of the week--something would come up at work (though my job is probably apt to keep me late more so than yours), I'd need to run some errand (like get to the landlord's office while they were open) or I was just wiped out. The same was true for all the adults, even those who were driving like 10 minutes each way. I would have been a complete mess if it was a job and I didn't have the option of simply not going.

Working both weekend days would be worth your while, I think, though it would still be hard.
posted by hoyland at 4:56 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

how long does the experience have to be to be useful? i have no clue, but i think that is critical. if a month's experience will help you get a new job, you can do it, right? but if you need a year - can you keep that up for a year?

i understand what you want (and a good mri person rocks - especially if they can find the vein on my arm for the contrast first time!), but i think you need to carefully think what you need (in terms of duration of experience) and then work back from there to see if it's possible. for example, a year of weekends might be doable, and look better, than a couple of months of working all week that burns you out.
posted by andrewcooke at 5:43 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think that you should work both Saturday and Sunday. Working during the week would be too tiring a stressful. You will need your evenings to do chores, be social, and - most importantly - sleep. Your girlfriend probably won't be very happy about it, but it's not going to be forever. Try it out for three months and then reassess.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:53 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Everyone is different, of course, but I could not work 7 days a week. I mean, that's just work every day with no end in sight.

All the part-time jobs I've had, I worked 15-20 hours. I would work one weekend day and then a couple nights a week. That should be enough hours to give you some experience for future jobs, enough hours to make you feel like you're doing something you love, and yet still give you enough time for all the other things in life.
posted by lyssabee at 6:05 AM on September 3, 2015

The ten-years younger me without kids would say: I'd drive out Friday if you can catch some hours then, do all of Sat and Sunday and drive back home Sunday ... find a couch to crash on, maybe, for a short time? For me it'd be something I do for up to six months if it meant that much to my resume.
posted by tilde at 6:10 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I totally think it depends on how long you would be doing this for. I used to work six days a week while I was in grad school, sometimes taking a full-time course load but more often a part-time course load. I pretty much always had one day a week off, though - my program didn't have classes on Fridays, and that was my one day off from work.

Anyway, I did that for four years, and I was, in fact, burnt-out by the end of it, but I wasn't burnt out on the part-time job, just the full-time job and the grad school. It also cost me some friendships (not like anyone got mad, just like I didn't have time to maintain them).

I think how much you can do and for how long also depends what other kinds of demands you have on your time. You are going to have a lot less time and energy for your girlfriend/other relationships. Also it depends how much you are able/willing to slack off at your main job.

(Also, for those wondering how late an MRI center is open, I don't know if this is typical but last time I was in one it was for a 9:45PM appointment and there were people waiting when we left.)
posted by mskyle at 6:34 AM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

For 6 months I would work there Saturday and Sunday. If the drive turns out to be horrible I would be willing to stay in a hotel/couchsurf on Saturday night. Most hospitals have super low rates with local hotels - ask for the staff rate code.

I would not work weeknights. Future employers will certainly look at your start and end dates, but it would be unusual to have number of hours per week be a deciding factor. I wouldn't add two hours of driving, plus a work shift to a normal week night.
posted by 26.2 at 1:06 PM on September 3, 2015

I worked 7 days a week for 2 or 3 years (I forgot. It was a boring time!)

It's totally doable if you are super strict with yourself about bedtimes. I couldn't risk a single night of less sleep than scheduled as there were no sleep ins (I was up by 4 or 5am both weekends) but by keeping a regular schedule, planning meals and chore time and having no life whatsoever, it was totally worth it for my short term goals.

I worked one weeknight and all day saturday and sunday, plus 9-5 M-F. I ditched the Tuesday night when I could but working all day Sat and Sun I think was easier than having one day off which would've thrown out my getting up early schedule.
posted by kitten magic at 5:54 PM on September 3, 2015

I'm not sure I understand. Are you trying to get back into MRI work? Because it sounds like you won't have the license still. You've already got a lot of experience working with people, no?

Make sure you have a least one day off. And make sure you don't take advantage of your girlfriend - do your share of the household stuff.
posted by kjs4 at 6:52 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

It is doable if that is what you really want to do (self sabatoge is the worst type of sabotage). As an anecdote, I worked FT 7am-4pm M-F, then 5pm-9.30pm at least three, usually four evenings a week and then 8 hours each on Saturday and Sunday. And I did that for four years with infants and toddlers (so, breastfeeding and never an un-interrupted sleep).

What made it happen was that I was detiremined to achieve my goals (keep a roof over our heads and transition from my FT job to my evening/weekend job when it became FT) and that I was trying to have one day or evening off every two or three weeks to recoup. I hated my FT job, loved my evening and weekend job. I found the day time job much more tiring because I sat in a chair the whole time instead of walking around in the other job.
posted by saucysault at 4:57 AM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

If your ultimate goal is getting a hospital MRI job, then I'm not sure the PT job is going to help. If the central problem is that you aren't qualified to obtain the relevant license, then more experience won't necessarily make any difference. There are patient-facing roles in health care that don't require a license that you might enjoy. A few examples:

Unit clerks (also called unit secretaries) are the central administrative person in a hospital department. They do clerical work, but also spend all day interacting with families, nurses, doctors, etc. Nonstop opportunities to provide good service, and a good unit clerk becomes the go-to expert on How To Get Things Done.

Patient relations is working with patients and families that have complaints about their care. It is intense and sometimes difficult work, but also really rewarding if you are suited to it. With customer service experience and a BA/BS in health care administration, you should be qualified for an entry-level role.

There is more than one way of getting out of your soul-deadening cubicle. I'd encourage you to try to get a sense from a neutral third party (i.e., not an instructor with your program) about the long-term viability of your license, even with additional experience.
posted by jeoc at 9:05 PM on September 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

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