Several months ago, I listened to Tess Vigeland being interviewed on "How She Really Does It" about life after leaving the dream job. Then I listened to her World Domination Talk. I really wanted to do the same thing. I'm looking forward to her book.
I have been feeling the way she described for a while. I worked hard to get my PhD and felt very lucky to find a full-time faculty job less than three miles from my house. For the first five years, I loved it. Then, for reasons I won't detail here, I started to love it less and less. I still loved the students but the other stuff was wearing me down. I tried hard to make the best of it because it was my dream job. My intuition, though, was pushing me toward the door.
I had a lot of ups and downs this spring when searching for a new job. Very much like Tess described, I made it all the way to the final round of a new job that I thought was my real dream job. "This was why it all happened," I thought, especially when they called my references. I made the mistake of telling too many people that it was going to happen, and then it didn't. I came in a strong second to an internal candidate. From start to finish, the application to phone interview to on-campus interview to hopes raised to hopes dashed took six full months.
I thought, "I'm going to have to go back next year unless a job drops out of the sky that is offered to only me." And then that's what happened, sort of. Through a friend of a friend I got a summer opportunity at a Fortune 500 company that might (or might not) turn into something permanent. I started the job looking hard for the permanent position that would let me leave my job gracefully, for a much better job, but it was coming down to the wire and I still didn't have it.
I was doing one of our Team Toledo swims at Olander Park, almost a mile around. I did two laps that day for the first time. I realized during the second lap that if I could swim like this, something many people find scary, I could be braver in other things too.
So I leapt. I have a contract through the end of the year. I'm finishing my project instead of going back. It made leaving more awkward, but I still left. I cleaned out my office and turned in my keys yesterday. I felt a huge weight lifted when I drove away.
"Leap and the net will appear," they say. Either I will find something inside the company, or I'll have a great reference for the next job. I know I should be worried, but I'm not. I'm sure it's going to be just fine somehow.