Friday, April 24, 2015

Job Interview

"So tell me why you are considering leaving your current job."

The question was asked about two-thirds of the way through the interview on Tuesday.  I was sitting in a conference room in the Walla Walla Corps of Engineers office, facing the three interviewers, trying to give the impression of confidence.

And this question was the hardest one to answer. 

Truthfully, I am looking for a different set of challenges.  I really like the current position I am in.  It is a temporary detail where I am managing a few small construction projects, and I get to see levees and floodwalls actually being built as a result of my efforts. 

So it is not job dissatisfaction that is making me look to the new opportunity.

It is not the boss.  Kevin is very supportive.  He has backed me up several times when I fully expected (and in some ways, deserved) to be thrown under the bus.  He is a good boss, and I like working for him.

It is not uncertainty.  This office is going to have work for the next few years, and I have always been able to finagle work, even in slow times.  In fact, last year, I brought in as much money for work as I cost in labor.  Maybe a little more.  So I am not really concerned about singing for my supper.

So what is it?

My answer was that I am ready for new challenges.  The supervisory position would provide me with a new set of challenges that I am ready to take on.  I also said that I was not looking for those challenges just anywhere.  It was not just me chasing a promotion for the sake of a promotion.  It had to be a special place, and a special job.

I went on to explain that I had declined to apply for good promotions in places I did not want to go.  And that I had done the same for good places, with jobs I did not want.

And that I had applied to Walla Walla twice before.  And that I had pulled my name from consideration both times, because we were not ready to leave.

"In order for me to consider the prospect of leaving my current job, it would need to be the right job, the right place, and the right time," I explained.

That was most of the truth.

Some more of the truth is that I am ready to leave New Orleans.  Part of my readiness to leave is pure wanderlust.  Part of it is needing new pastures.  And part of it is that I feel like I have rutted down so much here that I have limited opportunities to re-define myself.

I think it would be healthy for us to move. We are in need of a possession purge that only moving can give.  And yet when we talk about selling and buying another house in the area, I am strangely resistant.

There is an increase in stress in New Orleans.  I love the city - the people are amazing, the music scene is fantastic, and the food is beyond compare.  But the crime is getting worse.  The streets are almost undriveable.  The hurricane threat is continual, and that fear is etched into our psyche.  I have very little room for advancement in my career here at the district.  I thrive on new challenges, and am starting to create problems, just so I have new problems to solve.

Always a dangerous proposition.

There are reasons to stay.  If we go to Washington, the summer visits from my grandkids would be harder to justify.  They usually share time between us, their other family in New Orleans, and family in Dallas.  Washington would mean that we would be a single stop visit.  Wonderful, but less likely.

Washington is a lot further from my in-laws. Even though we do not visit often (not nearly often enough!), the fact that they are close means that we can schedule a day trip at any time.

Washington state is also a lot further from my own kinfolk.  As it is, it is hard to get a trip coordinated where we see Mom, Parker, and Caroline.  And my cousins and my extended family - Allie, Suz, Ben, Amanda, Jack, Von - all tend to get short shrift on my once-in-a-blue-moon visits.

I was enchanted by the town when I visited.  The people were amazing.  The setting was beautiful.  There are a lot of cultural events going on.  The symphony is strong, and they have turned into a wine-making powerhouse.  Travel was easy, although long... and a touch expensive.  It is very different from New Orleans, but the stress was a lot less, too.

The whole issue is moot if I don't get offered the job.  But I find myself repeating the question I was asked in the interview.  It continues to pester me.

"Should I stay or should I go?"


NOJuju said...

Very well expressed. I understand this dilemma in a deep and personal way. Every point you have made is one that I feel on a constant basis. You'll know if/when it's right.

Maegen Edwards said...

This place is just so heavy. I have gotten so bogged down in the heaviness of it all, of the struggles of the people around me, of the criticism and negativity that seems epidemic in all discussion of change, the crime, the awful streets, the most corrupt system in the country, and on and on like this as the pain and anger, other people's pain and anger, that just consumes you. You can't look at houses being renovated without having the "gentrification" alarm sound in the back of your head. You can't go to the grocery without thinking about the places in town that don't have grocery stores. You can't get mad at the criminal who broke into your neighbors house, because you recognize the harsh reality that likely led that person down that path. There's not a single place in the city that the feeling of victimization doesn't permeate.

About two weeks ago I felt as though I was at a breaking point of it all, and I fortunately had a chance to get away back to the piney woods of East Texas. And a dear old friend and I were talking on the drive from the airport to her house and as I'm talking and bitching and unloading all of this that I have been carrying she looks at me and says, "How wonderful for you that you can be the light in so much darkness."

That single thought rejuvenated my soul. I have begun the process of trying not to internalize so much of the sadness that seeps into every home, grocery store, and dinner party, and have started trying to be that light. Actively pursuing that role in my community and friend group. And it's hard, and I'm only two weeks into it, but that change in perspective has really helped me.

GMB said...

Get OUT of New Orleans…the city is TOXIC. The gun crime alone is indicative of an immature and corrupt society. It becomes about SAFETY and peace of mind.

The Pacific Northwest is a very different place. People make jokes about the West Coast being the 'Left' coast, but the place is far more progressive and while nowhere is perfect, just look at the crime statistics.

I would've moved to Seattle in 2000 and lived happily if other things hadn't constrained me to moving to NOLA. Those 4 1/2 years in NOLA were some of the most stressful and challenging of my life. It was the Blessing — yes I said the Blessing — of Katrina that forced us to finally move out, and our life changed immeasurably for the better. Moving out of NOLA opened my eyes to how significant the ailments of the place are. Life in Easley made us realize that it is not normal to live in fear inside your home, that it is not normal to fear walking from your car to the front door of your house, it is not normal to barricade your house like a fortress, it is not normal to deal with incompetent civil services, etc, etc, etc…

New Orleans is a great place to visit, but I'm not sure it's ever been a great place to live — I say that because it was a steep learning curve adapting to life outside when I first moved away.

I was recently asked about moving from Dubai back to the US, and I thought why would I? Dubai has a bigger population than New Orleans and yet the crime rate is virtually non-existent in comparison. I can walk the streets here at night and feel safe, can you do that in NOLA?

For me, there is no choice, if it's the right job, the right challenge, then go. Besides, we have daily flights to Seattle from Dubai ;-)

Elizabeth Henderson said...

Um, that's not an appropriate question to ask in an interview (I think it's a Prohibited Practice in fact), however…it does make one think. I'm in a similar place. I love my job - and I like the people I work with. However…I have to think long-term, and this project is going to be done soon - and what then? Do I want to go back to my old section (no offense guys, I like you too, but..)? Do I want to stay with this District? What else is out there that might challenge me and make me grow for the rest of my career?

One thing I learned from a boss is that the organization will not take care of you - you have to take care of yourself, no matter how loyal you are to the organization.

Extreme self-care - check out my blog and you'll see that it is a common theme in my postings.

What fuels you? What's your passion? Follow it wherever it leads!