So, you’ve finished college, completed your internship, and finally got your first “real” job…now what? When I was in college, we were guided and coached on getting our first full-time job. I had always told myself I needed to stay in that job for 3 - 5 years to establish a good reputation, get my foot in the door, and to show loyalty and dedication. No one wants to look like a “job hopper,” right? But what is our next step? When is the “right” time to start looking for your next job?
That is the question I faced this past year. I had been working at Southern Pines Recreation and Parks Department for almost 4 years as the Senior Programs/Special Events Coordinator. I loved my job. I loved my coworkers. I had an amazing and supportive boss. Why would I ever leave? But then I found myself looking and keeping an eye out for job openings through NCRPA's Career Connection more and more often. And finally one day, it just clicked. I saw a job posted that I thought would be perfect for me, more specialized, and closer to home. After almost 4 ½ years working in Southern Pines, I made the decision to accept the job as Recreation Supervisor (Signature Events) for the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department. I am not someone who typically likes change and I usually feel more comfortable in a familiar setting, but I was ready to accept the challenge and see what this new job had to offer and where it could take me in my career. Still the question begs, do you ever really “know” or are you just taking a leap of faith hoping it works out? I like to think it’s a little bit of both.
When considering the “right” time to look for a new job opportunity, remember that the right time for me probably won’t feel like the right time for you. Everyone is going to have different motivating factors for moving onward and upward in their career. What were mine? Simple, my family and growth in my career. While I had been working in Southern Pines for over 4 years, I had been living in Alamance County (Eli Whitney to be exact) during that time as well. For those of you not familiar with the area, it was a solid 1-hour drive to work every day. When my daughter was born and I returned to work in December 2016, my morning drive turned into two hours by the time I took her to the babysitter (plus the hour drive home at night). Yeah, the drive was awful but I had gotten very accustomed to it since I had also commuted over 45 minutes to UNC-Greensboro for 3 years. For me and my husband, it was worth it to us to live in the area we wanted, near family and friends, and for me to have a job I enjoyed and loved. That alone made the drive worth it. Even though I thoroughly believed my job was worth the long drive, I knew I would be crazy to pass up an opportunity to work 20 minutes from home.
I also firmly believe that it is necessary to always be learning, growing, and pushing yourself in this field in order to be the best Recreation Professional possible. If you become complacent, content, or just don’t feel challenged anymore, then you risk losing what makes our profession so special…your passion. In my last position in Southern Pines, I was fortunate to always be given the opportunity (and encouraged) to try new things and push myself. However, I felt myself slowly getting into a slump of just being happy with how my events and programs were going and not as excited to continue to make them grow and improve. That was another sign for me that it may be time to look for new opportunities in a place that I could challenge myself. Carrboro is a very unique town with an even more diverse and unique population. They offer larger scale events and programs to the community than in past departments I have worked in. The challenge and opportunity to be part of something like that made me excited (and a little nervous)!
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer. There isn’t a formula. I can’t lay it out step by step to tell you when it’s time to look for a new job. What I can tell you is, always know your own priorities and understand the pros and cons of your decision. I’ve been working in Carrboro for about 3 months now and when I was approached about writing for this blog, the idea for this topic came to me pretty easily since it is very relevant in what I have just experienced. But I found while writing this, that there’s probably a reason we never talked about this much in school, because there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution or answer to navigating your career.
Meet the Author
Emma Griffin obtained her Bachelor’s in Recreation and Parks Management with a concentration in Community Recreation and Event Planning and a Sociology Minor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2013. During college, she worked part time and as a practicum and intern student at Gibsonville Parks and Recreation for 1.5 years, where she developed her passion for the field of public recreation. Emma worked as the Senior Programs and Special Events Coordinator for 4.5 years for Southern Pines Recreation and Parks. She recently began her job as Recreation Supervisor for Carrboro Recreation and Parks in March 2018. When she is not working, Emma enjoys spending time with her husband, Jay, daughter, Lilah, and friends and family. Emma loves taking walks, visiting local parks, and taking vacations at historical sites.
Emma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-918-7367.
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