Monday, November 30, 2015

My Experience Working for the Mormon Church Part 1

My Experience Working for the Mormon Church was a hard, negative experience that I hope I’ll never have to repeat in any corporate office again in my lifetime. And when I say ‘corporate’, I mean it. The Church Office Building (The corny on the COB) in Salt Lake City is the headquarters of the LDS “Mormon Church” and it’s a huge corporate business building. It’s a giant white stone, massive building that dominates the skyline, even more than the state capital. Lets not forget all the many other Church offices around the valley.

Church office biulding

I worked on one of the highest floors, it was a lovely view of the Salt Lake Valley from my office and the thought of working on such a sweet view was a big accomplishment. Before I started working at the COB, I ran into a family member who has spent a few decades working at the Church in another department. I asked him what it’s like working for the LDS Church. “Guess, what, I’m starting in a few days!” I said in excitement. He shook his head and said,

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

My jaw dropped as he told me that working for the Church wasn’t as it cracked up to be, and that it runs more like Wall Street than a Church. He was happy to hear I had work. However, he seemed almost worried about my chances of not only fitting in and moving up the “corporate broken latter”, but also dealing with hard office politics, micromanagement and passive aggression that don’t belong at any Church. So you ask? Why did I apply to work for a Church business? Well, I’ve been a member of the Mormon Faith since I was 8, but that is another story that I’ll write in in this blog later. I was almost done with college and was happily married living in the valley. I heard that the Church was hiring on-calls (Their fancy word for interns, and their way of saving money) so I went for the opening. I remember my job interview; it was a very high pressure meeting that felt more like I was applying for an executive position at Google than some part-time, on-call position. The man that interview me, lets call him, Ken (to hide his identity), was the manager of the department I was being interviewed for. Ken did a very good job at terrifying me stupid. He asked me questions regarding Church related issues.

“So, if the second coming of Jesus happens 300 years from now and we have colonized space, would it still take place on Earth?”

I thought, “I don’t know, maybe Michael Bay or Christopher Nolan could make a film about that, that be funky with plot and crazy explosions.” Good question, but very odd and random. I responded that if it did, Jesus would tell us to get all our human asses back to Earth so he can hang out with us here. I didn’t say that in those words, but that’s what I was meaning. Or better yet, I should write the movie storyline, and the tagline should be,

“Elder Karl did not sign up to travel 5,500 light years to Earth, and miss the second coming due to relativity.”

I’d better get Neil deGrasse Tyson to help me, because I don’t think this hard science plot would work. I walked out of that interview knowing I wasn’t getting hired, but I didn’t really care. Why would I want to work for the Church anyway? So a week passed and I got hired. Low pay, 20 hours-a-week, but whatever, it was a job and I took it. The job started out very good. Everyone in my team was very friendly and down-to-earth. Ken, that rock-hard, zone leader-like manager of my department seemed loosened up with me, even if he was a very emotionless fellow. Like for example, I recalled one time after an one-on-one interview with Ken months later. I wanted to make him laugh for once so I mentioned a moment of General Conference where a speaker kept waving an ignoring buzzing fly away from his face, and I compared it to satan. Ken just looks at me like, “What the hell are you talking about?” So it started out fun, but corny.

However, after the months after my first day I’ve started to see issues in the Church system. Mostly their way of hiring people and saving money. Yes, I mean it; the Church is worried about spending money. I was one of many on-calls employees that work part-time with no benefits and very little pay, no desk at first, old laptops without any adobe softwares to use. On-calls out number the full-time employees 20-1 in the departments and it became a zoo. The only way to get hired full-time at the Mormon Church HQ is to start as an on-call, or intern. Then jump at a rare opportunity of a job opening where a full time employee leaves the position. Every time this happens, it was all competition of a hierarchy. Yes, the Church runs like wall street. It’s all a capitalist bureaucracy business and less like a christ-centered Church. Was Jesus a capitalist?

So when the time came with the full-time job opening (This happens once every two to four months) all the on-calls jump after this opening like wild animals after one small chicken drumstick. I’ve applied for the first time to a job opening, and didn’t get hired. In fact, none of the 30 on calls got hired, because they decided to hire another full-time employee for the position. Yes, that’s right, full-time employees apply for these opening also, and giving them a great advantage over the inferior crowd. Like Duke, or Kentucky winning March Madness. That’s when I decided that I wanted out of working for Mormon HQ, but I had nothing else. I was applying for jobs everywhere and no one was hiring. It wasn’t long until I just bit the bone and kept with their system, but after a few months, things got worst.

My Experience Working for the Mormon Church Part 2

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