The things we miss when we change jobs

Hello again, friends. It’s been awhile, I know.

This is the first I’ve been able to write here in what feels like I very long time (don’t let the timing of my posts fool you; I tend to write several and schedule a week or two at a time). But, just as I’ve said many times, life happens and priorities shift. Sometimes things get a little bit out of your control, and you have to devote all of your attention to what’s happening right now, while also trying to accomplish the basic functions of an adult with a job + in graduate school + with a family. I am always yearning for quiet moments like these, where I can sit and listen to music, watch the evening linger, and feel relatively at ease with life and able to pitter-patter away on a keyboard for a time. But occasionally – the past few weeks, for sure – these moments don’t happen as often as we like.

But that’s OK, because this time I’ve been busy for a very, very good reason. A few weeks ago, I was happily puttering my way through March, working on homework, going to roller derby practice, working at my university’s law library, completing an internship at the General Motors Design Archive (aka, one of the coolest archives ever). Just living. Graduation was a little less than two months away, but I had plenty of time before the stresses surrounding that event consumed me. I was planning on being proactive, though, on the graduation/job-hunting front. I was keeping an eye on library job postings in SE Michigan. I was planning on setting up some exploratory interviews. I was staying on good terms with all my former internship supervisors. But I wasn’t really looking. Not yet anyway.

Well, apparently someone was looking for me. That’s a weird thing for me to say, largely because I tend to be on the overly humble/bordering on self-deprecating side, and I’m always convinced that I’m less skilled/talented than I really am. But there you have it; a recruiter contacted me on LinkedIn (of all places) and a little more than a week later, I had been hired by an educational publisher for their digital content team. The position essentially combines everything that I have been working toward during the past 10 years: my journalism and English degree, my certificate in publishing, my copyediting and management experience, the digital content management skills (specifically, advanced XML and HTML) I picked up during library school. It’s a job in publishing. It’s a job in digital. It’s a job working with educational material. It’s pretty much … everything.

To say I’m excited to start (today actually!) is an understatement. But along with starting a new job (and not just “a job”, but hopefully, a new career) comes the bittersweet, but necessary, experience of leaving one’s current job. I’ve had to leave my law library job, as well my archiving internship, and it’s been tough. I’ve had some not-so-ideal job situations during the past five years, and I’ve left several jobs feeling overwhelmingly relieved, disappointed, angry. This past year has been one of the best of my professional life, to be sure, even if I have been only been working part-time and for less-than-ideal wages (I was a student assistant). I’ve had wonderful co-workers, a supportive and sweet boss who has (for the first time) really looked out for me, and a job that’s not only enjoyable but rewarding on several levels. I always knew it couldn’t last much longer past graduation, but leaving the law library is just as tough as I thought it would be. I’m going to miss it very much.

When I think about missing a job, though, I think about the little things. Unless one is laid off, one leaves a job for a specific reason, whether that’s because you’re moving on to better things, or you’re removing yourself from a situation that doesn’t quite fit your life. In these situations, you can’t really be too regretful, because you’re motivated by a higher purpose, so to speak.

But even if you’re leaving under the very best of circumstances (like mine), that doesn’t mean you can’t be sad, and I think those little things are at the heart of that sadness. Most of the time they’re trivial little tasks, but these are the things that are very specific to a specific job position, at a specific time, in a specific place. They are the little experiences you won’t find anywhere else, and no matter if your next job is your dream job, you’ll always look back on those little workaday experiences with fondness.

Last week, on my last day at the law library, I was thinking on all the little things I loved about working there, as well as the various places I’ve worked over the years. I don’t necessarily want to go back and do any of these jobs, but man do they make for some great memories.

  • At the law library, I’ll miss being the first person to arrive on days I opened and my supervisor had the day off. Strangely enough, I’ll also miss the almost calming routine of sorting the mail, and the satisfaction of seeing a stack of messy packages turn into a neat pile of properly checked-in books, all processed and labeled and ready for shelving. I’ll also miss a few of the more friendly faces among the law students – the ones who came in almost every day, took the time to learn my name, and ask me how I was doing.
  • At the bookstore, I also miss being the first to arrive in the morning. As I get older, I become more of a morning person, and I tell ya, I really loved being the opening manager. Walking the store when it’s perfectly still and quiet, and maybe a little dark and scary. Vaccuming (properly) and counting out the tills of money, then creating that day’s shift schedule. I also miss my funny, quirky, sweet employees who always made me laugh, even if they occasionally drove me crazy. Also, the free/cheap books.
  • When I was a journalistI did enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home, including the ability to make my hair and doctor’s appointments any damn time I wanted to. While the days where I worked non-stop made the job a living hell, I will say that the “easy” days in-between had their bright spots. Also, I miss spending lots of time with the good girlfriends I met at that job, including random lunches any day of the week, and “working together” at Starbucks on Friday afternoons (even if those days involved more than a few bitch sessions and stress cries).
  • And when I worked at a plant farm in high school, I desperately, terribly miss the quiet, cool, dewy mornings on the farm while I silently watered the flowers and watched the sun rise.
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