A year ago today I did something I never thought I would do. I walked out on a job.
I never planned to take the career path I took. Growing up we think we will be grown-ups with stable careers and steady career paths with progressively increasing responsibilities, titles, and pay. In college I was filled with all the propaganda that I was attending one of the leading business schools in the country and would be on the fast track to a VP title – and after that conquer the world with my C-Suite title.
Reality is different.
I graduated with a “manager in training” title for a retail store and was plunked in a store in Ohio where the manager did not want me and had no interest in training a college educated “kid” who was just there for a few months before moving on to the next position in the company or to the corporate location. I didn’t last past the first split shift on July 4 before deciding this is not what I went school to do. I quickly found a new marketing job with a local company.
My career went as planned after that change, I did move on to progressively increasing titles, responsibilities, and pay. I even had the luck to work for two excellent managers during this time. When one manager left the company we worked for I quickly agreed to follow her to her new company. Then, after leaving a different job to move out-of-state I again quickly agreed to come back to the company to continue working for a second excellent manager.
Then, the time came for me to move on. I found a job with another company for a short period of time before realizing I had to walk away from the job. I decline to share the details of why I left last year. That is between me, my former employer and my family. Nothing comes of publicly airing that laundry here.
In this past year I have had a lot of time to think about and reflect on my career, what happened, and my decision to walk away.
I find it interesting that we as a society will stand up and encourage people to leave dangerous and abusive personal relationships – but the minute a person walks away from a job or speaks up for themselves professionally it is viewed with different optics. It becomes challenging to get interviews. When in interviews to have to explain your career path and decision to leave is a burden met with skepticism that you were perhaps actually fired or you are not a hard worker.
Perhaps it is time to actually listen to those of us who walk away from jobs, and understand that we are not quitters. In fact, we have the strength of character, ethics to stand up, and courage to take a risk. If I were in a position to hire a person I would listen to a person who walked away from a job. I would want a strong, ethical, courageous person on my staff.
Maybe the optics will change as more people stand up and say “No More” in their professional lives. Maybe we will see a change in how people who leave jobs are viewed. Until then I’ll keep plugging away, applying for jobs, doing freelance work, writing my blog, creating content, and being thankful I had the strength to say “No More”. We should all remember the price we may be paying to attain “the good life”. I wouldn’t change my decision for anything – even it means an unconventional career path because my life is still good.