The Hot Pot Blog

August 31, 2010

China in Photos: Day No. 65 In Which I Use a Tape Measure, Go Truck Shopping & Ponder the Non-Non-Profit Life

The above is what the pollution looks like 45 minutes outside Chengdu on an ok day.

The above is pretty self-explanatory.  Garbage in a creek, not totally unusual anywhere in the world.

Air pollution, polluted waterways, economic development, those are the sort of problems I thought about a lot at my old non-profit job.

For my new job though, I use a tape measure, I shop for trucks and carpets.  I read more rules and regulations in 30 minutes today than I ever did for my driver’s test when I was 16.

Not surprisingly, it’s fun work and I enjoy it so far.  I enjoy my new colleagues. I am grateful, grateful beyond words for the job and the income and the opportunity to do productive work.

Except that the transition is hitting me hard, much harder than I thought it would.

It’s not the transition from unemployed to employed.  No, it’s the non-profit to non-non-profit that has me unexpectedly all twisted up inside.

Why did I wake up last night in a panic at 3am because my job no longer involves “making the world a better place.”

Why could I not fall back asleep as I thought about the impossibly nice and charismatic beggar on the street by our house who I keep meaning to give money to but never do?

Why did I get choked up today when I saw our old toilet seats out in a trash pile, and a woman searching through them for useful scrap to sell?

I’m a bit confused and surprised.  I wanted this job, I wanted the 8-5 back.  I’m already happily getting used to having resources to do my job and the existence of order and systems (what the non profit world could do with a FAM!!!).

But what I didn’t count on was that I would want the sense of “doing good” back so badly.

In a way, I’m grateful.  I think this dichotomy between enjoying my new job and wanting to keep doing something vaguely humanitarian will push me to be creative and “do more” in a way that staying home never would have.

But what to do? Especially in a city (and country) with very, very few volunteering opportunities? I’m going to be doing a lot of thinking over the next few months I think.

Have you ever left the chaos and lack of resources in the non-profit world for the order and abundance of government or private sector work?  How did you make your peace?  What did you do?

0 responses to “China in Photos: Day No. 65 In Which I Use a Tape Measure, Go Truck Shopping & Ponder the Non-Non-Profit Life”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Switching worlds between non-profit to private sector or vice versa is daunting. In the nonprofit, you have different cultures, styles, and processes. Nonprofit work tends to be less organized as I recalled. Nonprofit or not, the bottom line is people want to know how he or she can make a difference.

    Raising $1 million dollars or $1 for a nonprofit, you will be monetary rewarded the same. Not true for the private sector. In private sector, there is more competition for the same resources, one needs to be much more efficient.

    The search for meaningful work can be discovered among non-profits and for-profits. While non-profits typically have been the safe haven for voluntary workers, the private sector acknowledges the best way to retain the best talent is to help their employees grow.

    Passion can be a huge motivator, it can determine if you’re just in it for the paycheck or are you really passionate about what you’re doing.


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