Wednesday, August 05, 2015

I want to be just like Tess Vigeland when I grow up

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.


  1. It is such a pain when the job itself (your old job) is fine, but then the extenuating factors (politics, personalities, etc) ruin it. My husband has dealt with this several times. It honestly is not fair. And it makes decisions (like you just had to make) really hard.

    I am glad you are moving forward. I realize how hard it is to leave the sure thing and go into the unknown, even when the sure thing is not fun any more. Really hard.

  2. I'm a month late to this post, tracking back from your latest one! So happy for you that you've made that leap! It must've been so crushing to go through that six month process (why do they always take so bloody long?), but I'm glad something appeared for you!

    I had a similar situation with a convenient job three miles from home but knowing I wanted something else. I used to think I had to wait for the perfect moment/job to appear before I could make a leap, but like all things it happened randomly and messily - i.e. Gareth getting a job in a different city and me being forced out of the day job rut and having to figure out what to do next, bloody quick.

    I realise now that it's about taking *a* next step, not "The" next step... however imperfect it may be, you're moving forward. Whoa weight loss analogy or what ;)

    Really happy for you, Jen!

    1. Despite the uncertainty, I'm really happy I took the leap. I have a theory about "just good enough jobs" -- there are a lot of people who stay stuck because even though they don't like what they're doing, they feel like it's not bad enough to go. Luckily for me, things conspired to give me a push and a little temporary landing pad.

    2. P.S. Thanks for commenting -- I love seeing your name pop up in my email box.


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