A new job… again. Do I have itchy feet?

Mission“One thing I see on your resume here is that it kind of looks like you have itchy feet,” one of my interviewers said. “Can you explain your job moves from the past five years?”

I was waiting for this question, which was a very valid question. Not because I was worried about it, but because I was eager to answer. Within five years I had held three jobs, and now I was looking for another one. Take a glance at my resume and it would be easy to assume I had itchy feet.

But that’s not the case at all, and I explained to her why.

When I returned from Uganda in 2014, I needed a job. Any job. My employer from before I moved to Uganda was willing to take me back. I was facing medical issues from my time in Uganda, and I needed insurance immediately. I had no intentions of staying there.

Then, as my medical issues cleared up and I was able to work with a headhunter, I got my job at a local foundation. I loved my job at the foundation. I was very happy there! The pay was good, and I liked the people I worked with. I also loved that I was able to get involved as a volunteer at a nearby homeless ministry. Life was good.

But then, after working at the foundation for about ten months, an opening for a Director of Marketing & Communications became available at the homeless ministry. People were sending me the job opening left and right. It was a perfect fit AND at a ministry I loved dearly. I didn’t even know if I was qualified, but I interviewed, and I got the job.

I was there for three and a half years. Then, there were some changes in leadership, some changes in direction and vision, and I needed to go.

The woman who asked me if I had “itchy feet” said, “That all makes sense! Thank you!”

And it does make sense.

SJCHFThose who don’t know details might say I left my most recent job just because things got rough. When, little do they know, I’d been toying with the idea of leaving for over a year. It’s been rough for a long time. I wanted to hold on. I wanted to retire from that ministry. Without going into details, my heart and my conscience wouldn’t let me.

I prayed about it for many, many months, and I had no question that I had to go. God gave me the wisdom and strength I needed to part ways. I especially had to get the past the fear of, “What will people think if I switch jobs again?” and get over it. It’s my life, not theirs. And has my three jobs in five years kept me from getting another great job? Clearly not, as tomorrow I start a new one at a respected college preparatory school in town.

Honestly, it would have been easier to stay where I was. There’s comfort in what you know, even when you’re miserable. Even when you don’t agree with important choices that have been made. I think this is why so many people stay in jobs that make them miserable. It’s miserable, but it’s also comfortable.

If that’s you, I encourage you to step out in faith. At least see what’s out there. Yes, starting over with a new company and a new job is stressful, and there’s great fear of the unknown, but you only live once. Instead of complaining every day that you have a terrible job and work for a terrible company, get out!

Despite my explanations for three jobs in five years, some still might say I have itchy feet. That’s not my problem. We have one life to live, and I’m going to make the choices that help me live my life to the fullest.

Two years at one job. For me, that’s huge. And that’s OK.

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Natalie the teacher.

Newspaper reporter.
English teacher. (at four different high schools)
Marketing Assistant.
Customer Compliance Administrator. (I still don’t know what that is)
Communications Coordinator.
Director of Marketing & Donor Engagement.

You’d have to be crazy to look at my resume and not see a lot of perceived red flags. Some might argue that I’m a risky hire. I’m only 37, and I’ve already had three different careers. I haven’t worked at one location for more than two years since I graduated from Indiana University in 2004.

Until today. Today I have worked for two years at The Rescue Mission, a homeless ministry in Fort Wayne, Ind., and for the first time ever, I hope there are many years to come. I work at a job that I absolutely love. I love the people I work with. I love what I do each day. I love the people we serve. I’ve attained something few people in this world have: job satisfaction.

So was my job-hopping and searching for the right fit for me worth it? Absolutely.

There were certainly some rash decisions in there. For example, I was so determined to get out of teaching in 2012 that I accepted a job that paid almost half the annual salary I was making as a teacher. My debt skyrocketed that year. But I believe all of those crazy decisions led me to where I am now.

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Natalie the Director of Marketing & Donor Engagement.

My career is important to me. It’s been more important than starting a family. Would I rather have my own family right now, or a job that I love? I can say with certainty, a job I love. Granted, now that I have that piece in my life, I would love to have my own little family, but finding job satisfaction was apparently something I needed to attain first.

I would probably never tell a young person that job-hopping is a good idea, but if you can sit in an interview and explain each hop in a way that makes sense, you can certainly get somewhere. Clearly it never stopped anyone from hiring me. And because I never gave up on finding a career and employer that I love, I wake up every day happy to go to work.

Your career moves are your own. You can get a lot of great advice from other people, but it is ultimately your decision. Some decisions deemed “career suicide” are not always as bad as they seem.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the part my faith has played in all of this. God has always made it clear to me that what I do with my career should be honoring to Him. He also gave me the patience and perseverance over the years to not give up on finding work I love.

Today I celebrate two years at The Rescue Mission. It hasn’t been perfect. There have been days when I’ve cried in the bathroom. There have been times I’ve had to leave and go to Starbucks just to get away from someone who was irritating me. There have even been days I’ve hopped on Indeed.com.

But I haven’t touched my resume. It still reads that my most recent job was the one I was at two years before The Rescue Mission. And I don’t plan on updating it anytime soon.

Two years. For me, that’s huge. And that’s OK. I’ll never regret my journey to finding a job that I love and the fact that I never gave up on finding it.

Giving up on “the dream”…

There are 24 hours in a day. We spend at least eight of those hours at work.

There are seven days in a week. We work at least 40 hours of that week, which leaves 128 hours away from work if you work the typical 9-5 job. Work makes up approximately 1/4 of your week. The other 3/4 are spent with friends, family, sleeping, eating, working out, and doing things we love. That is, if you aren’t too stressed out about how you spend that 40+ hours of your week at work.

1012552_business_world_4Are we supposed to be miserable at our jobs? Is finding the perfect career a lost cause? Is it a waste of time?

I used to believe in doing everything possible to find my perfect career, but my dream is fading… maybe we’re just supposed to go to work, suffer through it, come home and go on with life.

I’m 32 years old and I’m on my third career. I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a high school English/Journalism teacher, and now, a marketing assistant. Believe it or not, they do tie in to my experience, my B.A. in Journalism and my M.A. in Education.

Sometimes I feel weird when people ask me about my work history and I have to explain three different careers. I fear they think, “Wow- she can’t make up her mind!” (true) or “This girl can’t keep a job!” (not true) or even, “Give it up honey, you’re searching for a job that satisfies you and makes you happy, and it’s just not going to happen.” (maybe true) But for a long time, I didn’t care what people thought. We live one life- why not search for the perfect job for you until you find it? 1127694_woman_walking

At this point, I think a lot of us have given up on our career dreams, and we’d just like to at least find a job we don’t dread going to each day.

So is that it? Forget the dream, whatever it may be, and instead suffer through your job that gives you little to no satisfaction? To me it’s very sad that so many people get nothing out of their jobs, and they are doing nothing to fix it. On the other hand, I can see why they give up.

What do you think? Is a job just a job, or should we still try to find the career that’s perfect for each of us?