How to Deal

Not Challenged Enough at Work?

By Lily Garcia
Special to
Thursday, October 25, 2007; 12:00 AM

I have been a secretary in the federal government for 28 years. During that time, I've changed offices several times and have reached my peak growth potential as a grade-10 employee. Simply put, I'm bored and spend much of the day surfing the Internet.

My supervisor knows of the slowness and offers no help. And when I am given work, I finish it quickly and become bored again.

I would like to go back to school, but can't afford it right now. To help, I have taken on two part- time jobs.

As you can see, I like staying busy and embarking on new challenges. Is there anything else that I should do?

You should find a job that allows you the financial flexibility to stop moonlighting and pay for school.

You may want to contact the Office of Personnel Management for further assistance. They can help you to assess what training or tuition assistance benefits are available to you as a federal employee. If that doesn't work, then you need to try looking for a job that matches your skill set -- and this could mean searching for jobs in the private sector.

I will assume for purposes of answering your question that you work in Washington, D.C. The salary range for a grade-10 federal employee in the District is $51,000 and $66,000. Given your experience level, you should have little trouble securing an executive aide or legal secretary job that pays within this range.

To help cover the cost of school, target companies that offer tuition assistance programs. These programs especially benefit those who can't afford to quit working and attend school full time. It allows them to complete their studies at a slower pace and after work hours.

That brings me to your part-time jobs. I assume that you need the extra money. Keep in mind, however, that you will need to reserve some time after work for school. You may even have to quit one or both of the part-time jobs, depending on how you are able to manage your time. To help compensate for the loss in income, consider working a few overtime hours at the full-time job.

While you search for new opportunities, take advantage of the disposable time that you do have at your current job by researching other career and education options online.

Join Lily Garcia on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. ET for How to Deal Live.

Lily Garcia has offered employment law and human resources advice to companies of all sizes for 10 years. To submit a question, e-mail We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company