This post is about 10 months in the making. I was waiting to write about it until it had an "end".... it still hasn't reached that point, so here I am, to write what I know, while I still remember it. =)
Toward the end of my pregnancy with Sam I was 95% certain that I wouldn't be returning to my job. I hadn't truly been happy there since Emily was born. I felt that the job (and the commute to get to the job) kept me away from my kids/family too much... and it was just generally a pain the ass anyway. Riding the max/bus for 2-3 hours each day for five years... I had had enough. I figured that maternity leave would give me a good chunk of time to look for a new job and get something lined up for when it was time to go back.
Of course, I didn't tell my current job that I wasn't planning to come back. They were already treating me differently with just their assumptions that I wouldn't be... and I didn't want to risk my benefits, etc., while I was out on leave.
Just a couple of weeks before my maternity leave started, a couple of directors from another, similar program met with boss to talk about how we ran our program and kept things on track in terms of federal required outcomes and such. My boss, calling me the "data guru" pulled me into the meeting so that I could help answer their questions. I left that meeting thing, "well... that was dumb" with the knowledge that a struggling program had just heard from my boss that I'm awesome and do a lot to keep the program on track.
Fast forward to December. I was on maternity leave, and was starting to look for jobs while Sam napped. I had put out several applications, and decided to e-mail the two directors that I had met with previously. I let them know that I was looking for something a bit more on a management track, and asked if they had decided to create a management position for their program. I didn't hear anything back from them, but I did get an interview at another agency as a housing case manager and personal finance instructor.
I nailed the interview. And the second interview. They offered me the position, and I accepted. I was set to start in the middle of January. I gave my job notice that I wouldn't be returning.
And then I got a phone call from the OTHER program. They wanted to bring me in for a "meeting". I agreed. We met. We talked about what types of things I'd done for my last job. They were surprised that I didn't have a more representative title based on the work that I was doing. They told me about their program and the challenges they were facing with staffing and structure. They told me that they were still trying to figure out the staffing structure for the program, that they planned to hire on a manager, and that I'd be a great candidate, but that they weren't quite "there" with budgets, etc. The asked me in what capacity (and for what wage) I'd be willing to work. They asked if I'd be interested in coming on as an independent contractor for a few months to get the program on track. I told them that it would be something that I'd consider, but also informed that that I'd already accepted another position so would need to know something/make a decision soon. They understood and said that they would get back to me the following week.
The "following week" would have been the week of Christmas, and I a week before I was set to start my new job. I didn't want to be the jerk that gives them less than a week's notice that, "surprise! The person that you hired for the position isn't going to be showing up on Monday after all!"... and I felt pretty good about the other meeting... and, as Jacob said, I was a lot more excited talking about the possibilities there than I was talking about the case management gig. So... I took a risk. Without even hearing back from the potential, short-term independent contractor gig, I turned down the new job... and crossed my fingers.
Thankfully, I was offered the contract position... and, of course, I accepted. I kicked ass. I got the program in order, helped them hire a new staff, redesigned the structure of the program and built an entire 3-week employment prep curriculum that has ultimately led to doubling program enrollments. My boss referred to me as a "God send" on several occasions. Our federal contract liaison congratulated them on getting me on board. After the three month stint, they offered me a permanent position as the program coordinator... still not a "manager", and still, really, doing the same work that I've been doing for the last several years, but at least the title and pay were more in line with the duties, so I accepted it. They continued to tell me that they were going to hire a manager (and that they hoped I'd apply), but that they needed to wait until the new funding year (July) when budgets would be refreshed. So, I waited.
Last month the manager position opened. Before I submitted my application I sat down with my boss and asked if she still thought I'd be a good fit for the position. She did. I applied. I interviewed. I waited. I didn't get it. The woman that did get the position has been with the agency for several years and is of the culture that the agency represents (it's a culturally specific organization). So, I wasn't completely surprised. My boss told me that it was a hard decision, and that she sees a lot of potential in my and room for growth within the agency. I was a bit disappointed... both about not getting the position, and also in the fact that it seems that my career has kind of plateaued at the program coordinator/direct service level.
I took many risks when I decided to leave my last position. And I don't regret a single one of them. This story hasn't ended the way I hoped or expected it to, but that just means that there are more stories, and more risks to come...