First, let’s rewind a little bit. In March 2016, I was suddenly laid off. But after several grueling weeks of unemployment, I was given a job offer at Kaiser Permanente in May. A blessing considering it was so close to home, and allowed me to continue serving at church. It was a contract-to-hire position, meaning I was considered a contractor until they onboarded me to a full time employee. That also means I don’t accrue any vacation time, don’t get paid during national holidays, get paid hourly (as opposed to salary) and I don’t get to enjoy Kaiser’s great benefits. I don’t really know the advantages of a contract-to-hire role, other than having an arbitrary probation period (standard is 60 or 90 days).
What are these great Kaiser benefits? The standout perk is if you retired with Kaiser, you basically receive Kaiser health insurance for free for the rest of your life. Why is this important? Before I began working there, it was announced that this perk would no longer be supported starting 1/1/17. So, if you wanted to keep the old system benefits, you would have to retire before then. For ease of following along, here are some names (not their actual names):
Alex – the vice president of the financial department, and David’s boss
David – a director of the department and Ned’s boss
Ned – the manager of my team, and my boss
I’ll admit, I had a shaky start learning the system and getting a hang of things. I don’t think Ned really liked me all that much at first. But David liked me, and that mattered more. Unfortunately David was retiring in September for the benefits. As I sat in his office during his last week, David said he liked me and wanted to onboard me, but he didn’t feel right doing it as he was leaving the company. So, he didn’t. Even though I’ve worked there for 3 months and should be off the probation period.
Yup, that sucked.
In time, I proved my worth to Ned. After 7 months of being on contract, we had a conversation where he said he liked me and wanted to onboard me. He even said he would give me a small raise. About a week later, Ned got back to me saying he was vetoed by Alex. Alex wanted the decision of onboarding to go to whoever replaced David.
Yup, that sucked.
It was around here that Ned announced his retirement. He didn’t care about the benefits since he’d be starting a company and travelling the world to teach underprivileged kids. At the end of April 2017, 11 months of being on contract, Kaiser finds and hires Helen, who fills David’s vacant spot. You can imagine some of my anxiety during this time, since the contract was originally supposed to end after 1 year. After Helen goes through the motions of meeting the whole team and reorganizing things, she gets a chance to sit down and talk to me about my contract situation. She barely knows me but at least acknowledges that I have some value here, so she extends my contract to the end of June. I’ll shorten this story a little bit and say this pattern repeats itself 4 more times! So, for 4 more months I have this back and forth uncertainty of whether or not I’ll have a job at the end of the month. Until finally Helen said she wouldn’t extend the contract past the first week of October.
Yup, that sucked.
Of course, I had been applying to jobs and seeking other opportunities for a while. More on that next time.
All the negative stuff aside, I could tell my presence there was appreciated. I had like 3 or 4 goodbye lunches and parties before I left, and it was topped off by cupcakes and a card signed by the team on the last day.
After all the major projects I worked on, the reason my contract ended was because there just wasn’t much else for me to do.