Last week, my daughter Marisa announced to my wife Lori and me that she was giving notice to resign her position as a speech and language pathologist at a private New Jersey school for children with learning disabilities. Now, my wife and I are of the baby boomer generation, and still of that era where the old adage of “don’t leave one job until you have another” drives our work ethic, so we were certainly concerned that Marisa was making the right career move, not the least of which included thoughts of her giving up a good salary and the prospect of returning home until she lands another position.
Marisa’s reason for her decision to leave one job to pursue another was not solely financial, but based on her long range career goals, and for that I applaud her even though her potentially moving home on an interim basis would mean helping her move for the fifth time between college, graduate school and first job. Our basement cycles between looking like a normal one to a Goodwill center. All joking aside, my wife and I would do anything to help our daughter, but coming to grips with the new realty that young professionals today will easily transition between jobs every few years early in their careers and every four to five years over the course of their careers is still a tough pill for us baby boomers to swallow.
Maybe we boomers are just a little more jaded and accustomed to a world of work that is not ideal and one that is fraught with ethic violations, financial scandals and corporate greed that makes us think anyone today is crazy to give up one job before having another. But the world of work is changing, and the Gen X’s and the Me 2.0 generations see things differently. Marisa’s decision to leave a job working in a school is largely due to her desire and passion to work in a medical or health care environment where she can not only better apply her skills and training as a speech and language pathologist, but be part of a work environment where she can grow and advance in her profession. And how can you argue with that?
However, Marisa also wanted to leave her current position because the founder and head of the school misleads prospective parents and students into believing they will be schooled in techniques that simply do not exist, and where the necessary resources are not available. While I admire Marisa for not wanting to be part of such a “marketing ploy,” part of me screams out “welcome to the real world!” Who in business of any type has not put the “spin” on the services and products they offer? Or again, is this just the jaded and skeptical part of me coming out? What I have come to learn is that the younger generation of professionals value the mark they can make in the world, and unlike the boomers are not necessarily putting security ahead of career.
I know Marisa did not make her decision in a vacuum and she sought her parents input as well as that of her trusted friends and colleagues. She also met with and discussed her decision with her immediate supervisor who a week ago applauded her for making a decision that would help advance her career, only to do a “180” and this week tell her she was making a big mistake in leaving and that she “wanted to be happy for (Marisa) but can’t.” Talk about a spike through the heart! My sense is that the supervisor’s delayed reaction was based on the old thinking about loyalty: “so now that we gave you such a terrific learning opportunity, you get up and leave us.” However, we know that loyalty should work both ways and today’s employer shows little loyalty to its employees. Perhaps the newer generations know this better than we who still cling to the old notions of a two-way loyalty.
During this period of transition, Marisa has been actively pursuing opportunities in her desired field while fulfilling her current work responsibilities. I know she will land the right job for her. And she did accomplish an important goal by working at the school: She completed a much needed clinical fellowship that fulfills her requirement for certification.
Maybe the real point of sharing this story is that careers are, and should be, as much a part of your long-term goals as they are about the short-term gains in terms of salary, benefits and job security that we boomers have valued for so long. Now I just need to start making room in the basement for Marisa’s belongings. The good news is that each time I have had to do so it marks another achievement in her life. And I have no problem with that.