It’s Okay to Quit Sometimes…

When I moved to Connecticut in June of 2012 for what promised to be an amazing opportunity at Yale University I was elated. I was going to be much closer to my family (3 hour drive) and my year in Charleston hadn’t been that great. I took a chance on a good job in a fun place to visit, but really the South wasn’t (and has never been for me). I only had to live there for a year if I hated it and as long as I stayed a year I wouldn’t have to pay back all the relocation money I was given. A year isn’t that long, right?

So I took the job at Yale and Mom and I trekked back North with the cats. (For the record, my mother is a rock and always, always there when I need her). It was not a fun 2 day drive with record heat and having to sneak cats into a hotel in Delaware while one cried excessively. Any time we stopped, one of us would stay with the cats in the car with the AC on (Savannah who was not quite 1 at the time was laying on ice packs and towels in the back seat).

Everything was great – I had the freedom to really drive a research program into a direction that would hopefully save lives and make people think twice about safety. I was using my trusty GIS (Geographic Information Systems) background and much, much data to look at location and causes of accidents, trying to pinpoint why they happened and what we could do to make intersections safer or change habits or behaviors.

I was on a research grant that I was promised would go until December of that year absolutely, 95% chance funding would be there for the following year. So I took the risk and moved, I mean it was Yale…right?

Well I’m not really sure what happened but on my 89th day (you’re in the Union on day 90 and protected) I was told they had lost the funding and therefore the money to pay my salary. They had funding until December so the timing was suspicious to say the least.

I was pretty devastated. It was the ultimate low because I had done in the right way (finding a job before I quit) and I deserved better.

I spent the better part of the next 11 months unemployed/underemployed. I couldn’t catch a break it seemed. I worked at a running store but the commute was awful and I didn’t love their business model. I stayed but worked part-time.

I went on interviews and was offered 2 jobs the same week in July 2013. I ultimately went with the job that had better benefits and seemed to be a more solid future. I started working at a big health insurance company and felt like I sold my soul to the devil…it was slightly soul crushing.

I was grateful for a running acquaintance who stuck her neck out for me as I didn’t have the experience or background for it, but knew I needed the opportunity and was intelligent enough to find my way. I took a sizable pay cut but it made ends meet, I just needed to trim my budget from what I was used to.

I was lucky enough to have a job, so I just put my head down and learned my way through claims, did a lot of side projects with Excel and data, and received good monthly reviews and quarterly bonuses for doing my job well.

I was “promoted” to audit my old team and that meant the ability to work from home, and eventually allowed me to relocate to Massachusetts.

But I was miserable. I was working with a lot of people that just didn’t care to do their job well. I was underpaid and too overqualified for my title, but in this corporate setting you are your title and your salary grade is your self-worth. So I felt low, but tried to keep my head up.

I was looking, I rewrote my resume nearly every month – I decided that I would try to get into marketing. “Every company needs marketing, it’s a safe field” is what I told myself. But my heart wasn’t in it. I’m a Jill of All Trades (HA) but really I can fit in well into an office setting, Excel and Access are my jam and I’ve worked in research, environmental consulting and in the Defense sector. The common thread was my GIS skills, which is very niche but highly valuable for the right position. But I hadn’t been using my GIS skills for years so I focused on data and research positions.

And then I got a call. It was from a local recruiter I had used back in 2009 who had a job for me. A client of hers was looking for someone who knew GIS. She knew she had someone with a GIS background and dug through her files…

I talked myself out of the interview many times. I had been out of the field for over 2 1/2 years, I hadn’t opened the software used in the same (licenses cost upwards of $5K) so why would they give me a chance? I was surely just embarrassing myself.

I went to the interview reluctantly and told myself it was good practice if nothing else. The recruiter wanted me to try and get in early in the interview process and so I was the first one interviewed (setting the bar high low for others). It went surprisingly well, more like a conversation than an interview and I was clearly able to articulate why I was out of the industry, why I wanted back in and how my background related so well to the position. I left feeling good, knowing I had done and said what I needed to and fully prepared to wait the 3 weeks they had set aside for interviews. My recruiter called me immediately and said that they had loved me, enjoyed meeting me and thought my personality was perfect for their group. I thought she was embelleshing perhaps but I had a shot, so I waited it out.

I followed up with them the week they were slated to make their decision. And then I got the offer. Better than I expected and better than I had really hoped for. And then I got nervous that I “wasn’t enough” and then I slapped myself for thinking that. I didn’t lie or misrepresent myself, they know I’m a bit rusty but if they believe I can do it, then I can!

And then I QUIT! I hate quitting, and quitting by phone is weird (I work remotely so no other option). But I flipping quit. And everything is okay, I get a 67% pay increase (remember I said I was underpaid?!) and I will not spend it all on running clothes and shoes. Because we are buying a house…

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Brian has been my rock through all of this. We went on our first date (semi-blind) the day I lost my job at Yale. Our relationship is stronger and more real because of all the tremendous lows we faced. Everything happens for a reason, and I wouldn’t have met Brian without the Yale opportunity…there are many things I would change, but I wouldn’t change taking that chance and moving to Connecticut.

Jill

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