On Epiphanies, Friends, and Career Direction

On Monday, May 25, I woke up to a realization.  I don’t like my job!  I’d like to say it was startling or sudden, but that’s just not true.  But the epiphany wasn’t that I was unhappy doing the work I was doing, it was that I suddenly realized that I could not do it anymore.  Not wouldn’t… couldn’t.  Some switch flipped and I knew with absolute certainty that I wasn’t going to create enough change in my environment to make myself love my job. 

So, while I drove into work, I thought about my epiphany.  I asked myself questions: 

1) Why don’t I like my job? 
2) What am I going to do about it?
3) Am I losing my mind; have I become irrational? 

The answers, respectively, were: 

1) I don’t love Business Intelligence.  It’s a great field, and I thought it was the natural progression of my career, but I just don’t love it.  I am surrounded by people that do, and that just highlights the fact that I’m not passionate about BI the way they are.  That, coupled with the fact that I’ve been in a very tough consulting environment for a few months where I regularly do work that is neither fulfilling nor educational made for a bad combination. 
2) I’m going to change something. 
3) Surprisingly, no. 

Okay, so what to do?  I e-mailed a few trusted SQL friends and told them about my epiphany.  I know that every one of them probably said, “duh, Audrey” as they read the e-mail.  They all intuitively knew that I wasn’t doing something I loved and were all supportive and encouraging of my decision to figure out what to do next.  My dear and always supportive friend Aaron Nelson (Blog | Twitter) pointed out that his company was interviewing candidates for a database developer position over the next few days.  Now, I’ve known Aaron for a while, and he loves his job.  I’ve met his boss and co-worker, and they’re cool guys.  AND… one of my very best friends in the whole world, Ted Hughes, is an application developer over there.  (Tangent:  I know what you’re thinking… I’m friends with an application developer?  I am.  He’s brilliant and awesome, and if I ever need to hide a body, he’s the guy I’m calling.  Partly because I know that he has a truck and proper tools, but also because I know he’d show up. Oh, and he writes good SQL.  That’s how we became friends in the first place.  :End Tangent)

Also, my poor husband got this text from me on Monday:  “Had an epiphany. Don’t love BI. Getting a new job.”  To his credit, he just said, “Do whatever you need to do to be happy”.  Yay, Jeremy.

Long story short, epiphany on Monday, interviewed, loved what I heard about the position, offered position, accepted position, turned in notice on Wednesday.  My last day at Key2 Consulting is June 14.  My first day at ista is June 20.  Yes, I’m taking 3 days off.  Mike, my new boss, will appreciate me not being a frazzled, stressed, overwhelmed mess on my first day.  I will probably hang on to 1 or 2 of those characteristics even with the time off, but I haven’t decided which yet. 

Key2 Consulting is the company I’m leaving.  I love this company.  I pursued Key2 when I started to look at a career in BI Consulting.  Brian Thomas is an amazing boss, and more importantly, an amazing person.  I have friends here that I’m sorry to leave.  I have no regrets about coming to work at Key2, and I’ve truly enjoyed being a part of this family.  But, I’m moving in one direction and Key2 is moving in another.  Loving the people you work with is important, but loving the work you’re doing is more so.  For anyone who IS passionate about BI, this is a quality group of people. 

I know what you’re thinking:  Okay Audrey, you got a new job.  Big whoop.  What’s your point?  I do have a point (actually a few).

What I’ve learned about my career and life in general

1) Don’t be afraid to try new directions.  Also don’t be afraid to admit when they haven’t panned out. 
2) If you’re unhappy where you’re at, try to change where you’re at.  If you can’t do that, find a new place to be.
3) Friends are so important.  My friends validated and supported what appeared on the surface to be an impulsive decision.  But, they’d listened to me over the past few months, and each one of them knew exactly what to say.  A couple of them even had opportunites to offer up. 
4) Forget career ladders and job titles.  Figure out what aspect of this crazy career choice of ours you love and go get paid to do it. 
5) Sometimes you just KNOW.  When you do, ACT.  This doesn’t just apply to our careers.  This applies to life in general.  How often do we feel certain about what to do next?  When one of those rare moments comes along, go with it.

To my friends who read my rambly, strange e-mail that Monday and responded with kindness and encouragement… Thank you.  You know who you are, and I hope you all know that you’re awesome.  Hugs all around. 

–Audrey

10 thoughts on “On Epiphanies, Friends, and Career Direction”

  1. Congrats on the new gig! And huge props to you for not only recognizing your conundrum, but then taking decisive action about it. I would say that lady-luck played a part, in having an awesome position sitting and waiting for you. But nonetheless, many are afraid of change… you embraced it. Way to go!

    1. Bek,

      Thank you! And luck absolutely played a part. I’ve been using the word “serendipity” a lot lately. Things just came together, which has been really nice.

  2. Give ’em hell Audrey… glad you’ve found something that works for you. Try to keep Ted and Mike out of trouble.

    1. Ha! Thanks, Josh. You oughta talk to Mike… think he has an update you haven’t heard yet. And really, can anyone keep Ted out of trouble?

  3. Sorry to hear you’re not staying with Key2, as I myself settle down at Key2 on the road to more BI. With that said, I wish you the best of luck, and I know for sure we won’t be strangers in the SQL Server Community (did I hear SQL Saturday Atlanta???).

    I also wanted to add to you tangent that though while not a true .Net application developer (though I am getting great guidance from Dan and all) but I do call myself a SQL Server Developer, I do also have a truck, though I don’t have all of the yard tools I used to have when I owned a home. So if you need a second truck in The ATL, holler at your boy!!! hehehe

    Congratulations and good luck!!!

    1. Jason,

      Thank you. It’s been a pleasure having you around at Key2. You’re going to do great here. And I know we’ll see plenty of each other, because I know you’re going to love presenting on Wednesday. You’ll be hooked just like the rest of us, and there are plenty of SQL Saturdays to go to. 🙂

  4. Great post – and congratulations! It’s surprisingly hard to know what you really want, or don’t want, or to separate things that are hard work (which is rewarding) from things that are just drudgery (which is not). So go get ’em!

    1. Merrill,

      Great point on knowing what you want. I tend to have a forest/trees problem sometimes. It’s a good exercise to occasionally step back and ask myself the philosophical questions. It’s funny how sometimes the answers surprise me; so easy to get caught up in tthe crazy day-to-day and lose sight of the big idea. And thanks for taking the time to read the post and comment on it.

  5. And now that the dust has settled, how are you liking the transition?

    I am still not sure what I want to be when I grow up (or older than 35)! 🙂

    – Chris

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