Career, Motherhood, Identity


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I applied for a new job this week. An academic/career counselor at a local technical college. Pros: $11,000 more money to start than I make currently, teaching 6 credits a quarter, counseling (rather than case-management), shorter commute, and tenure-track. Cons: working 5 days a week (I work 4 currently), 10 month contract (rather than 9 months), and not guaranteed with my ‘at risk youth’ population I do love so much.

I applied within 2 hours of noticing it had come open. After two years at  my current job I have yet to officially apply to anything (I’ve searched, plenty), and thought this was a really great fit. And yet, after disclosing to some friends that I applied, I noticed some mixed responses. There’s Mari and my co-worker Bethany, who thought it sounded amazing and like I should go for it. Then there’s my co-instructor, who seemed stricken at the thought of me possibly leaving because ‘this place would fall apart if one of us just left suddenly,’ my buddy Russ who laughed and said, ‘of course you’ll get it, you are magic and always say you never get it but you manage to, though will you stay for longer than 7 months?” And my friend Amelia, who I went to coffee with today, who said, “I thought you loved your job, why are you thinking of leaving? You’ve only been there two years. You’ve managed to commit to a husband, why do you move jobs so much?”

I sometimes wonder if this is an adoptee symptom, grass is always greener mixed with the idea that once you like something it might change or go south, so I bail before that happens. Maybe. Or maybe I’m stuck in a social worker heart with a business world mindset. Nobody in a business setting would think my approach to job searching as anything to be ashamed of. They would admire my ability to be strategic, gather skills at a job and keep my eyes on the horizon for the next thing to come up, and my ability to jump ship when it’s sinking, so I don’t go down in flames. I was at my first non-profit for 7 months, my crisis counseling job for 16 months (12 working, since 4 were on maternity leave,) and now I’m starting year 3 at my college instructor job. If this was a business world, they would admire my ability to achieve career trajectory in 4 years post-graduate school.

I really love my job currently, with the exception of a few things, like incompetent leadership that drives me crazy. I have aspirations and feel dumbed down by my department, though that could be fixed if my boss, or the good ol’ boys network, would give me the freedom to create some classes that would make the program better. And tenure. That would be good, too. This could all be general musing in a theoretical situation, since the job is only posted for ten days, which I’ve learned from my time in higher education usually means there’s an internal candidate that they want to promote.

I felt defensive after coffee today. I know my friend meant well, but it irked me. Since Boof and I are loosely talking about having another kid, she’s like “but you’d be spending your whole pay raise on childcare?” And I said, ” yes, but without that pay raise, I’d be taking a PAY CUT to have another kid and pay for childcare.” Facepalm. I wonder, too, if this wanting a new job is a way for me to postpone the thought of trying for another kid (though if I got it, I’d have more freedom in when I got pregnant, not bound by my program’s inability to get a teacher to cover my classes, and at the new place I could have a baby whenever).

And maybe my friend is wrong. Maybe I can commit, but I don’t want to spend my time dicking around dating when I can move on and find a ‘husband.’ Maybe if I settle in to a tenure track position doing what I want, I would dive in feet first and build a lifelong love at that institution. Maybe I’ve just been dating losers, even ones I’ve liked well enough. Ya know?

How do you handle career trajectory? Do you jump at a chance to change jobs? Do you fantasize about leaving your current job for something else? 

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