Switching Jobs Again

A little over a year ago, in July of 2012, I started a new job. I don’t think I blogged about this big life change specifically, other than to mention it briefly at the end of this post, but the job was a big step forward for me career-wise. From the salary to the way it utilized my skill set, it was “serious” in a way that my previous job at the time just kind of wasn’t.

The company was small but well-established — one of those good, old-fashioned, locally-owned family businesses. There were about 15 employees total, all of whom were great people, and the owner took a lot of pride in investing back into the community and putting on events for other local businesses in the area. The only oddity was that it was located so far out in the west suburbs that I had to drive past a horse farm in order to get there.

Far Suburban Horse Farm

(This is actually a different horse farm in the same general area, but it works here for illustrative purposes.)

But despite being located so far out, it actually seemed like the commute wouldn’t be so terrible. When I drove out there for the interview, it was about 40 minutes from our house, which wasn’t bad at all — even a slight improvement, since I was commuting by train at the time, and that usually worked out to about an hour once you figured in the walking and waiting involved.

Unfortunately, I realized only after starting the job how much worse it got during the evening rush. That 40 minutes turned into an hour on a good day, and could balloon into an hour and a half or more, depending on the completely random and unpredictable whims of the traffic gods.

Ever since Lillian started going to daycare, Joe and I have been staggering our schedules so that one of us can drop her off and the other can pick her up, and since Joe’s job lends itself better to a later schedule, I’ve always been the one in charge of pickup. And with the possibility of late fees and generally alienating the awesome art-class-teaching Santa-party-throwing daycare where Lillian is very happy, the evening commute became a huge source of stress.

On a typical day, I would get into the car after work and drive off, nervously listening for the next traffic report on the radio. Some days, it would be (comparatively) smooth sailing. Other days it would be randomly, inexplicably slower. And some days there would be something ridiculous to report, like “there seems to be a satellite dish in the road,” or “there’s a big geyser of water shooting up on the side of the highway and everyone is slowing down to stare at it,” and I would scream profanities at the traffic guys on the radio, which is kind of unlike me.** As the weeks and months wore on, it became clearer and clearer that the situation wasn’t really working out.

** Normally when I talk to the radio, I try to use a calm and dignified tone of voice.

To his credit, my boss made every effort to let me adjust my schedule and work remotely on certain days — and those adjustments did help the situation somewhat, even if they couldn’t completely fix the underlying problem. And despite the commuting-related stresses, I was happy enough in all the other aspects of the job that I wasn’t actively sending out resumes.

And then it so happened that one day, while sitting in traffic, a consulting firm that I’d been in contact with a few years earlier called up to ask if I’d be interested in a career opportunity. The position was at a Fortune 500 company, and it would mean a significant pay increase. It was also located downtown, in the heart of the Loop, only a block from a CTA train that could get me there and back while bypassing the car-based traffic grind. It seemed like a sign.

Not that it was a sure thing by any stretch. The hiring process stretched on for months, and the interviews — both over the phone and in person — were by far the most intense I’ve ever been through. There was an endless stream of brutally demanding technical questions, and writing code on a white board in front of several people came into play at one point. There were several times along the way where I was certain that I wouldn’t get it. But then I got the call with the good news, and after yet another delay, I got an official start date and put in my two weeks notice.

In The City

(Talk about a change in scenery.)

I started the new job a little over a week ago, and so far it seems to be going pretty well, although I’m still settling in to the new routine. Some random thoughts on the transition:

  • The department I work in now is about ten times larger than the entire company I came from, and it’s hard not to feel a little ambivalent about moving from a small local “Main Street” business to a big scary multi-billion-dollar corporation. It wasn’t an easy decision, but in the long run I think it’ll be the right move, both financially and for the longer-term growth opportunities.
  • Working for a big scary multi-billion-dollar corporation may have its perks, but “overall stress reduction” unfortunately does not seem to be one of them. So much going on! So many people to answer to! So many big important problems that need to be solved yesterday! Luckily I enjoy the work to an almost insane degree — and the commute is a lot more relaxing, which is nice, because…
  • I don’t think I’ve read a real, honest-to-goodness book in over a year. I used to read ebooks constantly during my commute when I used to take the train, but spending those 2+ hours behind the wheel instead, the time just sort of got sucked down a black hole. Needless to say I’ve been enjoying dusting off my long-neglected Kindle app on the train over these past few days!

So anyway, that’s the scoop on the latest big thing that’s been going on around here lately. Between stressing over the interviews, wrapping things up at the old job, and starting at the new one, it seems like all my extracurricular activities got put on the back burner a bit. I know postings have been super slow here on this blog, and the yard that we were making such good progress on for a while there is looking a bit… abandoned, to say the least.

But as the dust settles, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things. If all goes well, expect a slew of belated bloggings about our various toddler-related adventures lately, as well as updates on a couple of home improvement endeavors we’ve been chipping away at!