Thursday, October 19, 2006

job search or soul search?

the activity, "searching for a job" does not make an appearance on my top 10 list of ways i like to spend time.

i'm aware of this tendency, and in the words of tyra banks, i have always modeled through. however, while following my typical path of research and discovery, i began to reject positions i expected to gravitate toward, which forced some serious, and much needed reflection. in the process, i stumbled upon the reason, the explanation for my particular pains in this search: i suffer from soul scorch.

that is, i stayed in a job i didn't believe in, a job that flew in the face of my most fundamental values, that championed profits over humanity and status over charity.

it wasn't that bad, it's not like i was the one making bombs and killing people, but it certainly happened under their roof, and as a paid cog, i was certainly a part of the machine. to make matters worse, rather than leave the job, i became expert in suppressing unsavory elements of my employer, offering empty justifications when faced with the realities of their business. this is not to say i'm flogging myself nightly over this realization, i'm just recognizing that while we all make decisions that are right at the time--and i believe this WAS right at the time--the results do leave scars, and in some cases, lead to enlightenment.

i also learned i distrust--no, question--the drive to adopt technology solutions. i still believe in the merits of technology, but favor purposeful applications, rather than merely profit-gaining or gadgetry-focused pursuits.

the more i seek employment, the more i am guided by my fundamental belief in choosing careers that make a difference, an impact. in the past i was willing to admit a certain amount of flexibility, and expressed this by requiring my future employer fit into one of the following categories:

* a mission that works toward making the world a better place
* a direct giving program that helps other organizations work toward making the world a better place
in the case of the second option, i made sure my volunteer time filled in the altruistic gaps. AND, as mentioned earlier, in the case of my last position, i selected a job based on the opportunity, the team, and attributes not necessarily expressed in the above categories, and i felt good about it.

so the result of all of this reflection is i find myself turned off by the majority of tech jobs in the for-profit sector, and attracted to the prospects of following my passions for education, literacy, justice, and community-building. i'm still considering tech opportunities, but i'm beginning to believe more and more that in the end, my last job offered enlightenment, and the scorch is healing.

*** next up: graduate school?


cj said...

well, i am not sure grad school will help with soul scorch....

you might want to talk with these people -

i might be able to provide an introduction and they can probably point you to some place non-scorching to the soul if not downright uplifting at times

david silver said...

great post.

discovering what one doesn't like is as important as discovering what one does like and for that the last job was pretty productive, eh? plus, you learned a ton about web 2.0 applications. plus, you learned a lot more about working in collaborative teams (although you're already an expert on that).

it's funny that you are leaning a bit away from technology at precisely the time and place where hi-tech is all the rage - again. that shows integrity!

ooh, and i'm with cj: CompuMentor seems to be doing all kinds of cool things.

sarah said...

yes: i really liked my last job
yes: i learned a ton
yes: i loved my team

and i'm not sure where this sway from tech all started from, and i'm not sure that it'll stick, but it's an interesting topic over which to ruminate.

Lynne Faulk said...

soul scorch. aaw?!? i think you were just caught in some political runoff. my own night-flogging realization was that the project was probably an unwise and "gadgetry focused" use of technology to start with. and as we all realized too late, the launch wasn't positioned so that it could be used properly, and you bravely stuck around to see it die slowly. one bad apple...

sarah said...

i think i need to clarify:
i continued in the job because of the experience, the people, and the opportunity to stretch myself creatively and professionally--it was a great job for me at the time, and i have no regrets about it. my use of "soul scorch" was perhaps a bit too dramatic. i meant that there were issues with which i struggled, and chose to repress, which have now surfaced as a good learning moment: i'm going back to organizions in which i believe. mission is king, i mean, queen. :)