Changing careers: Good and bad
I’m about 5 months into my new job, and I have to admit, it has been a bit of a roller coaster. There have been a lot of really great things, and a lot of lows that I wasn’t really expecting.
My job is project based, and my first project is a longer term (10 – 11 months) not-very-interesting project. There are a bunch of plusses with this project:
- it is great to be consistently assigned a project
- I don’t have to travel
- I work in the city
- The hours are good.
I like my company, and everyone has been really friendly. I’m working in new industries doing new things, and I didn’t have to take a pay cut to make a change. All in all, things worked out as planned.
That said, I’ve had some challenges. For this project in particular, the work is not very interesting nor very challenging. It isn’t where I want to go with my career in the long run, although it is an OK place to be for now. Coming from what I was doing before, the work is not inspiring, and that makes me sad.
I’ve also had to start over, at least much more than I would like to have. I get it – it makes sense – but I don’t have to like it. Perhaps I was naive, but I wasn’t really expecting it, at least not to this extent. While I know my experience translates well, I have been less great at figuring out how to sell it, market it, and make other people see that value. I’ve got some ideas on how to do better at this, but it is kind of exhausting to have to prove myself all over again. It’s a hard change, but the only way to get somewhere better is to figure out how to thrive in the place I’m at.
I have been comparing my new job to my old job, and it really isn’t holding up. That said, it is an unfair comparison. I invested years into my old job. I put hours of effort, lots of emotional effort, and it was even what I went to school for (undergrad and grad). The reasons that I didn’t pursue a job more similar to my old job are still there. Nothing has changed. I still don’t want to make the commute required for a similar job, I still don’t think that I was getting as many marketable, transferable skills, and I still question the long term health of the industry. None of these things are insurmountable, and if I end up deciding it is the best option, I can go back in that direction. But the reasons I wanted to try something new still outweigh the fact that my old job was more awesome than my new job. I’ll continue to search for a job that provides autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I hope this job develops into something like that after I invest some time.
(Similarly, I am always comparing my new neighborhood to my old neighborhood. My old neighborhood, in my opinion, was pretty much the best place in the entire world to live. So, maybe comparing to that is unfair. At minimum, it is unhelpful.)
I don’t know what my long term plans are. I could stay at this job for years, or maybe not. It could open some different doors for me, or I could go back to engineering. I could even go back to school and do… something. I do like to have a plan, but I’m really more concerned with having a direction or a strategy. I will make choices that will put me in the best possible position for the future, given the information I have now. I’ll seek out new information, and push myself to grow. Because that is the best any of us can really do.