Three things I miss about working in Government
Being self-employed gets touted as an endless weekend, of long coffees and laptops on deck chairs, down at the beach. As someone who’s self-employed, I can tell you that yes, it is indeed pretty awesome. I know I made the right move, for a whole bunch of reasons I’ll share with you as this blog rolls on.
No job is either entirely awful or entirely brilliant, though. When I worked in Government, there were good things I had which I didn’t even notice till they were gone.
So in this post I’ll share what I miss. If you’re weighing up quitting, I’ll bet the ‘cons’ of being a public servant are pretty sharply defined. What about the pros?
I miss sick days so very much. Yes, there’s this perception that public servants are just sponges for sick leave. They’ll take a week off the moment they see a cold virus wafting their way on a crowded bus.
Let me tell you what not having sick days looks like for the self-employed. Your six-month old baby has a cold and is snuffly and whiny. You and your partner both have the flu, so the maximum parental involvement you can muster is laying a heavy arm on your baby so he doesn’t roll off the bed and die. To cap it off, you have a deadline in three days, so while your baby is sleeping (or not), you’re at your computer, tapping away as the screen swims before your eyes.
That’s where sick days would be nice.
Oh merciful heavens, the pay. And it’s not just the money that magically appears in your bank-account each fortnight. It’s the superannuation, training leave, flex-time, holiday pay…
Back when I was deciding to leave Government, I ran some sums. Good news. I could still earn more or less what I’d been getting before.
I made a common mistake. See, when you’re in full-time employment, your pay covers every moment you spend at work. You go to the toilet, you’re still getting paid.
When you work for yourself, there’s a whole load of tasks that you have to do, but you won’t get paid for. Wrangling your computer. Tracking your bills.
I’d massively over-calculated how much time I’d have to actually make money.
I am a sucker for learning. If I could clone myself and have one Matt Fenwick just do courses all week, I’d be happy.
In Government, you get so much more support to learn. There’s the formal paid courses. But there’s also windows in your week when you can read a research paper which is vaguely relevant to your job.
When you work for yourself, you have unlimited freedom to learn, but seriously limited time and money. You have more opportunities for informal learning and experimentation. But sitting down and getting taught stuff – not so much.
There’s a lot more I miss, and your list may be very diferent. What I’d draw out from this is that there’s often not so much one single reason to leave Government, but a whole bunch of factors, for and against.
If you left Government, what would you miss?