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Afternoon Workplace,

I've been working for my current employer for the past 9 months and in the time have rarely had enough work to fill an entire 40 hour week. Initially I brought this up to my director and she was very responsive to my issues, but since she was newer than I and had far more to learn about her position she asked me to notify when I had a spot in my schedule two weeks in advance. The only time I approached her on this I had my job changed (10%) to support staff duties (office assistant). This change moves me further from what I perceive as my career path (Research, Analysis, Consulting) and as such have been very hesitant to do so again. In my mind training in the appropriate skill set trumps working in areas that don't apply to me. Furthermore our support staff are often under worked, though not as severely as me, by not asking for more work I am not putting more onto someone else's full plate.

I spend the majority of my time at work on training. And my director advocates for training. But I spend so much time training that I measure a productive week by how much I learned rather than how much I completed at work. However, when projects come up I complete them promptly.

I would like to know how I should be measuring my training through education (getting loads of) versus learning through actual work (getting almost none of). And depending on that answer if it is reasonable for me to move on in search of a workplace where I can hone my skills in practice.

Other general information:

  • Third job in three years. First was a start up that was going down, second was a one year "volunteer" program through Americorps. I'm worried how so many short term employments could impact my resume.
  • I enjoy my workplace, coworkers, and location, and field but the workload is painfully slow.
  • I have no jobs lined up currently and have no applied.
  • I'm getting new tasks next week, but so far they've been uploading documents and managing a CMS website. A further shift from my career path.
  • I spend time not training optimizing processes and recording changes that should be made to improve efficiency over time as it pertains to my position.
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Most people would be happy in your situation, they're just there for the money. But idle hands make trouble eventually. And if you're the sort of keen worker that your question implies, you might be better off looking for another job.

Toughing it out also has it's benefits though, you are learning a lot of theory, why not work on certifications? This is what I did when I was starting. I never took a course in my life. I begged, borrowed or bought the reference books did the exercises in them, and then when I was ready I asked my employer if they could pay for the exam contingent on me passing. In my next job I paid for my own, but by that time I was making more money.

So in answer to your question about measuring the benefits, certification is a great way to measure it.

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