Staying At A Job For Less Than A Year

I’ve been at my job a little more than six months. I tried something new, somewhere new. I worked really hard, putting in 50-60 hour weeks on the regular. I got a nice raise for my performance. I did my best.

And now I’m looking for something new.

There are a lot of reasons for me not to quit. In the abstract, this position is my dream job. I get to work on interesting problems with smart, motivated people. A lot of what I do I really really love. And based on my not-so-expert opinion of the company’s trajectory, I would be well-positioned financially if I stayed, even just long enough to hit my one year cliff. Let alone the three-month paid maternity leave.

But I just can’t do it anymore.

There were things that I was uncertain about when I started this position, that I now see as clear as day. Yes, that coworker that I have to interact with as part of my role does think I’m incompetent, is mansplaining and negging me on the regular, and generally being a jerk. Yes, when the founder said “I have no tolerance for politics” I should have seen it as a red flag that there are a lot of politics because the higher ups have failed to create any sort of process. Yes, the enterprise has been severely understaffed and there’s a lot of fun technical debt nobody has been dealing with. Yes, they are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to hiring.

I have been a really bad partner lately and a really bad friend. I haven’t been making time for the people and things that are most important to me. Every night all I think about is work. When I dream all I dream about is work. Today I got home and all I could do was squat on a half empty shoebox, rest my weary face in my palms, and stare blankly at the lines on my hand. Because I’ve given all my energy, patience, and care into something that’s never going to give anything back.

I feel a blinding rage on the daily. I have started burning bridges out of anger and burnout. Not to most, but to some (really just the aforementioned coworker). The people I like and would want to work with in the future would understand if I left why I left. On an emotional level, it’d be nothing but wins.

I’ve brushed up my resume, putting in some stuff that I’ve worked on in this role. (I also helped a lot with hiring the past few months. True fact: resumes are terrible and useless indicators of applicant quality.) Writing it down I realized I was doing the jobs of three people. I am partly proud, partly anxious at being that person who quits at the drop of a hat, but mostly very exhausted.

I’m reaching out again into my network. I’ve gotten a few recruiter emails, but the roles haven’t been a good fit. I need to move somewhere I can stick with for a long while.

Wish me luck.

Have you ever quit a job you’ve worked at for less than a year? How do you deal when you have to work with someone who is constantly disrespectful towards you?

Finding My Footing At The New Job

Before I went on my Irish vacation and for a little while after, I was having a really rough go of it at the new job. And while there are still days when I feel the usual pangs of imposter syndrome, alienation, and general workplace unhappiness, I think I may be starting to turn a new leaf with the work.

One of the things that helped me was to find a mentor outside of my organization (connected via one of my friends) that could help give me perspective on what I was doing. I told of the many ways that internal systems seemed to be broken, the work I had tried to do to stitch things together, and the uncertainty that I was adding any value or taking the right approach to fix the problems I saw. And he reminded me of something very important:

Are you trying to make your company better or your life better? Because remember: those are two very different things.

Sometimes making my work life better is different than my instincts on making the company better. Finding a sustainable way to do my own work should be my priority because that is, frankly, much more in my locus of control and interest.

Don’t hide pain points by taking on what should be the work of others.

Eager beaver me had been trying to “fix” things I saw that didn’t seem to be working. And in doing so, I started stepping on other people’s toes (frankly, I probably still do). Amongst the chaos of a startup environment, I was trying to impose order, not just in the field of my role, but where there were gaps in our employee pool as well.

After talking with my mentor, I realized I was both driving myself batty and doing a disservice to the organization by trying to patch up holes I saw in our systems myself. Instead, he recommended a much more effective route by “managing up,” pushing recruitment of additional staff to fill those other gaps. Or, if others in their roles are not doing their jobs well and therefore leaving gaps, making it very explicit (albeit in a subtle way) where the real bottleneck is so it can be rectified. Taking things on myself would just be a band-aid.

Granted, writing all this down feels very politic-y and shirking work, but I think the point he made and I’m starting to internalize is that my natural reaction to broken things is “omg how do I fix now” whereas the correction reaction should be “what is the best way for this to be fixed and how can I help make that happen.”

Stay in your lane.

Stay humble. Listen. Don’t assume you know everything. Do not feel compelled to give an answer for things where you are unsure. Defer to others outside your area of expertise, particularly if you don’t want it to be thought of as your area of expertise.

Prioritize the work you want to be doing.

For a while I have been doing one type of work (task A) related to my role I really don’t care about and frankly kind of hate instead of another type of work (task B) that interests me a lot more. At some point, I found the best way to keep my head above water was to carve out time for task B explicitly in my schedule and rework internal processes so that I ended up doing less task A altogether. And you know what? That’s made things a lot more sustainable which, assuming I am adding value, is better for the company in the long run than just quitting. (Whether or not I am actually useful is a different story.)

You can’t be popular with everyone.

I have a good relationship with most of the people I work with but for many reasons– some probably gender related– I have had a really hard time connecting with some of the staff. And you know what?

Fuck. Them.

As long as I feel like I am kind and considerate and interacting with them in a way that is appropriate for my job function, fuck their visible disdain every time I enter a room, fuck their passive aggressive comments. Their opinion of me as a person has already been made up, so I should stop trying to please or tip-toe around them and just get my job fucking done.

How do you feel about your job? When things have been not-so-good what have you done to improve your circumstances? Do you have a mentor and, if so, do you find their advice helpful?

Making A Career Mistake

I’ve been at my new job for six weeks now and I am starting to get the hang of things. My boss has me working with a big, important, and innovative client. My team likes working with me. I have already made some impactful changes that is improving the way things are done. To top it all off, the company is doing very well financially and, should it make the right changes, could very well make its way to success.

In spite of all this, I think I made a mistake taking this job.

I was right to quit my old job. The organization had a lot of problems that, over the years, had led to a lot of emotional baggage. Morale was low, infrastructure was breaking, and the long term trajectory of the industry was iffy.

But there were good things at that job too. Friends whose company I enjoyed, interesting and moderate workload, lots of variety, and by the time I left some sense of expertise.

At my new job, I have… none of these things. Some of my coworkers are fine but none seem open to new friends. The work is much easier than my last job, but there’s so much more of it and my clients, somehow, are 10x more demanding than any I’ve ever had to deal with before. And every time I ask a question to technical contributors not on my primary team, they look at me like I’m an idiot to be endured at best.

If it were just that list, though, I wouldn’t feel as I do now. In fact, I worried for a while that I was just dealing with the new job blues. But I’ve realized that there are big issues that I hadn’t considered before at this place, the kind I wouldn’t have been able to gauge in an interview. My boss (contrary to the “let me know if I can help”) doesn’t have time to mentor me in any meaningful way (or if they do it just adds more work I’m super not interested in doing on my plate), there are significant process issues that senior leadership has failed to make, and frankly I find the client management part of my job to be tedious rather than invigorating (turns out, quality of client matters a lot!).

I also feel like the career change element was probably not what I wanted either. Like, what I am doing now is way easier than the work at my old job. That said, I feel so much less satisfied with the type of work I am doing. Far less technical and therefore in my brain less cache.

So now I’m here six weeks in wondering… well… what next? I could wait it out at this job for a couple years until my non-compete runs out and go back to my old industry, opening up my own shop. Or I could just bite the bullet and become a developer already. It’s still probably too early to quit, right? Sigh. Maybe this is all there is?

Anyway, that’s what’s up with my life, work-wise lately.

Have you ever made a bad career decision? Do you feel like you ever recovered? If so, how?