Rebound jobs

If it’s okay to have a rebound relationship, then it’s okay to have a rebound job.

That’s what I told one of my friends this weekend who is currently debating next steps in his career. It’s a problem I know all too well: You know you need a change, and an opportunity comes your way, but maybe it’s not exactly your perfect fit.

“It’s not my forever job,” you might say to me. To which I would reply:

“It’s 2018. No jobs are forever jobs anymore.”

Maybe this is a pessimistic outlook, or maybe it’s realistic. I saw first-hand what happened to my dad after spending his entire career with Ford Motor Company. That was, to be sure, his forever job. Until the economy tanked and it wasn’t anymore. And this much is clear: It’s a lot harder to stay agile in your career when you haven’t had to formally write a new resume in 30+ years.

I’m sure many friends in my peer set witnessed similar challenges among their families. And maybe this is why our generation is unabashedly more fluid than our parents, taking every opportunity as a micro step toward something better. Some of us do this to a fault, leaving a job every 12–18 months, at the point when things just about start to make sense, or maybe at the point where you realize you aren’t next in line for that promotion like you thought.

I think that’s a terrible reason to leave a job. I don’t know about many of you, but I don’t feel like I actually know how to do my job until one year in, and it’s not until year two that things start to move in my head from brutal conscious competence to a more natural and seamless state. Maybe I’m just slow on the uptake. Or maybe this is just how learning goes.

But this isn’t a blog post about staying forever at a job. It’s a post about why it’s okay to rebound. And I firmly believe that this is a very okay thing to do in your career.

I took a rebound job. My second job out of school, after a year and a half of being launched into the world of consulting, I moved to NYC and needed a break. I intentionally sought out a job that wouldn’t drive me crazy at all hours of the night, one I could go to and go home from, one that would let me emotionally prepare for an even better next job and to take my time doing so. It was a job that paid me $14 an hour working at a magazine in Manhattan. To be sure, this was about as much as I made working at JCPenney in high school. I took a 40–50% pay cut to do it.

That ended up being one of the best decisions of my career so far. In those 10 months in hourly pay, I let the dust settle in my new city, I picked up a skill or two, and I kept my eyes and ears open. The role I landed next was on the sales team at Stack Overflow, where I had the privilege of being with that company for four years, from 45–300 employees. And that job in turn led me where I am today.

At the end of the day, *a* job is better than no job. So if you’re feeling strung out, burnt out, conflicted but don’t know what’s next and still need some cash, don’t be afraid to take what’s in front of you. You might be surprised by what fresh energy and a change of pace may offer.

The only trick is to not get too comfortable there. Remember: It’s only a rebound.


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