The year before my daughter was born was a year I will never forget. I was six years out of college and well into my career with what was, at the time, one of the largest airlines in the world. I loved my job. I had started my career with the airline as an accountant, but quickly realized accounting wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so within the first year or so I was able to transition into a new role as a Marketing Analyst. In that role I had to track all the planes that came in for major maintenance. It was a fun job with great co-workers and one of the best job benefits was the ability to fly for free, first class, anywhere the airline flew. Most of my relatives lived in Germany, so I took advantage of that perk as often as I could.
Everything was going great, until one particular day that summer when our department head summoned all of us into a conference room and told us that our department was being eliminated as a cost savings measure. We weren’t the only department impacted: quite a few people across the organization were being let go. Times were tough for the airline industry. Shortly after we got the news from our department head, we were all shepherded into a large conference room at the headquarters building where we were told about our exit benefits.
I was crushed. I never saw it coming. I had always imagined working for that company until I retired and flew off into the sunset with my pension and now I had no idea what I was going to do. I had a degree in accounting but hadn’t worked as an accountant for years and it wasn’t something I wanted to do again anyway.
Well, guess what? It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me career-wise. As a part of our severance package, we were given an allotment for training in a subject of our choice and I chose to get computer network training. That led to a technical certification, which ultimately allowed me to land a job as a systems analyst and solidify my IT career. IT was a career path that would turn out to be much more satisfying and certainly more financially rewarding than the trajectory I was on with the airline.
Fast forward to 2012. My wife was offered a promotion to VP of HR at the company she worked for. The only catch…it would require us to move to a different state. At the time, I had been working for the same company for over 10 years. I was very comfortable in my job and felt like I was good at it. I was in a groove. Thinking about leaving that job and not having something else lined up was scary. Turns out, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me! I was able to land a job with greatly enhanced leadership opportunities and ultimately I was able to build an incredibly talented team of IT professionals.
Fast forward again to 2018. Things were going smoothly with my career and I felt like I was back in the groove again. I had a great team, a boss I enjoyed working with, and the company was doing well…so what could go wrong? Imagine my shock and disappointment when I was told that my position was being eliminated due to a departmental restructuring. Just like before, I hadn’t envisioned this scenario happening to me with no warning…but once again, it had. This time around, my luck in finding a new job wasn’t as good. I think this was due to a combination of things, but the main issue was that there weren’t a lot of higher-level IT jobs in south Florida. Moving to another city with more technical job opportunities was an option, but not something we wanted to do if possible. So now what? Well, if nobody wants to hire you, why not start up your own company and hire yourself? That’s exactly what we did! My wife and I had talked for years about starting up our own business, and now we were finally doing it.
Looking back on these experiences, I’ve learned that losing your job or quitting without a new job lined up may seem devastating at the time, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it may be an opportunity to try something completely new, something you probably wouldn’t ever have thought about doing if you allowed yourself to stay stuck in your comfort zone.
I hope you’re never faced with a similar situation, but if you are, give some serious thought to taking a risk and completely switching gears. A reboot may be the best career move you’ve ever made.