Even Reese Witherspoon Has Impostor Syndrome

Kyle Buchanan at Vulture asks great questions of Oscar-winning, A-list, teacup-sized-person Reese Witherspoon and, because sometimes that works, gets great answers:

Cheryl had never been backpacking before she set off on this hike, and yet she did it anyway. As an actress, have you had similar moments where you felt like you were in over your own head, signing on to do something incredibly daunting and barely able to believe that you could make it work?

Oh yeah, a lot. Half the time on set, I feel like I’m hanging on by the seat of my pants and I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I basically have a new job every three months where I’m like, “Uh, am I qualified to do this?” And I find out during the process whether I am or I’m not. This film was really a gift, and it’s exciting to not know if you’re gonna make it, or if you’re gonna break down in the right place. Really interesting creative things come out of that process.

Maybe Polly Pocket is feigning modesty here, doing a ‘Stars: They’re Just Like Us!’ routine. But she seems sincere, perhaps because she also comes off as thoughtful, and that’s harder to fake. (“I’ve never seen a film like Wild where a woman ends up with no man, no money, no family, no opportunity, but she still has a happy ending.”) Starting a new job every three months sounds incredibly stressful, after all; you’d have to have the preternatural self-confidence of a Tracy Flick not to let it get to you.

Another high-profile victim of Impostor Syndrome: Hello Kitty.

Why We Should Talk About Money at Work

We are told from a young age to never, ever speak about money. Don’t ask anybody how much they make, or how much they paid for their car, or how much they pay in rent for that beautiful apartment. It is tacky, it is rude, it’s not something that nice people do. I am not one of those nice people. Talking about the cost of things, for me, is a necessity. If I got something for cheap, and someone asks me about it, I am more than willing to tell them how much I paid, because I live in New York, and not a whole lot about this place is very cheap. I try to employ this kind of transparency in my day-to-day, because I think that breaking down the barriers that we create when it comes to finances is important.

A Brief History of Being Unhappy at Work

I quit my job a month later, but I did not write about it! It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, which sounds ridiculous but it is true. After I did it, though, everything was better.

On Not Defining Ourselves By What We Are Paid to Do

It’s funny how we self-define, and I suppose some of this has to do with my being 22 and 23. But it is also something cultural, in that we are how we make a living.

Job of the Day: Spokesperson For Death Row

Michelle Lyons worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for more than a decade, and the decade George W. Bush was governor, at that. She witnessed the death of 278 inmates on death row. Pamela Colloff chronicles Lyons' career for Texas Monthly. It is tough to read at points but, wow.

The Other Side of the Desk

I could tell the man sitting across from me was nervous. He had almost as many years of experience as I had years of life. My questions seemed to throw him off. He came in wearing a suit that didn’t fit him very well. He was sweating.

Have You Considered Being an Air Traffic Controller Today?

The 13 best-paid non-executive jobs in America have one thing in common: They’re all in health care,” says the Atlantic. The worst-paid jobs, not surprisingly, are mostly in food service or agriculture. 

Some interesting facts: midwives (average salary $92,200, or as the chart puts it, 92.2) get paid less than physician assistants (94.3). Don’t feel bad for podiatrists (135). Despite setbacks during the Reagan years, air traffic controllers rake it in. And actors score hilariously well (87.2), to remind us that in certain fields averages are not useful metrics. In a similar vein, “writers and authors” do better than editors. Er, sure. Anyway, perhaps the chart can help inspire some of the late-blooming adolescents living at home throughout their twenties, as profiled in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine:

Kasinecz admits that she fears that her mom’s house in Downers Grove, Ill., half an hour west of the city, has become a crutch. She has been living in that old bedroom for four years and is nowhere closer to figuring out what she’s going to do with her career. “Everyone tells me to just pick something,” she says, “but I don’t know what to pick.”

Nurse anesthesist (157)! There you go. You’re welcome.

Job of the Day: Staff Announcer for Saturday Night Live

Don Pardo has been SNL's legendary announcer since the show began in 1974, but he died this week at the age of 96.

Job of the Day: Pharmacist

Here’s a career path you might not have considered, buried within this largely depressing piece about how much part-time work sucks, via Bloomberg:

“Does a highly-paid, relatively short-hour, moderately high education, majority-female occupation sound too good to be true? It is true and the field is pharmacy,” write Harvard labor economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz in a paper calling pharmacist “the most egalitarian of all professions.” As big retail chains expanded, replacing independent pharmacist-owned shops, they offered part-time work at relatively high wages. As a result, women flooded into the field. “Because of the extensive work flexibility and low pecuniary penalty to short hours, female pharmacists with currently active licenses take little time off during their careers even when they have children,” the economists write.

But if demanding unpredictable hours from cashiers and clerks is good for business efficiency, why isn’t the same true for pharmacists, who work short hours in similar retail environment? The most likely explanation is that pharmacists, unlike cashiers and clerks, can legally trade money for more predictable hours. Their median wage is $58 an hour, which leaves a lot of wiggle room.

Not bad, right? USNews concurs, scoring the job of a Pharmacist 8.1 out of a possible 10 and ranking it #5 on their list of Top 100 Jobs, period. And yet in my entire life, though I know plenty of folks whose grandparents worked at drug stores, probably making egg creams, I’m not sure I’ve encountered anyone who’s said, “I want to be a pharmacist.” Not sexy enough? Somehow off the radar? Why are we not all behind the counter, dispensing drugs with a smile?

Living and Working in the Boom Times

Last week, The Awl‘s Matt Buchanan reported on the New York Times/Upshot infographic How the Recession Reshaped the Economy, in 255 Charts.

As Matt noted:

You could look at one of these charts a day for the next six months and you would still not comprehend the full sweep of its gloom.

But the first thing that jumped out to me was a single line rising and rising, stretching up towards the Boom Times quadrant while the other lines fell away behind it.

What does that line represent? “Internet publishing, broadcasting, and search.”

The first thing you feel, when you realize you are working in one of the few Boom Time industries, is of course survivor’s guilt. Or, more accurately, there but for the grace of God. I mean, I could have studied STEM. Instead, I hitched my star to one of the fastest-growing industries of the New Economy, and I am reaping the financial rewards.

The fact that Boom Time in the New Economy means an approximate $40,000 annual salary in my case and an average $79,872 salary according to the Times/Upshot charts is of course part of that gloom that Matt Buchanan noted; the other booming industries include “electronic shopping and auctions” (average salary $60,902) and “support for oil and gas operations” (average salary $58,739).

But there is a distinct difference between working in an industry that isn’t growing (which I’ve done) and working in an industry that knows it has room to expand, to take risks, to hire on new people and give them opportunities to stretch themselves. For that, at the very least, I am grateful to have worked and lucked my way into this career. I also know, in the New Economy, that the feeling of gratitude is considered part of my benefits package.