A year ago I took a job 1,500 miles away from my wife and kids, with the assumption that they would be joining me this year. Long story short, they’re not. Now I’m desperate to ditch this job and go live with them again. My counselor is encouraging me to go. Hell, Employee Assistance at my job is encouraging me to go, and it’s their job to keep employees, not encourage them to leave. I could throw everything in my apartment into boxes and leave in two weeks, as I have nothing keeping me here.
There’s just one thing stopping me from moving: a job back in the old place. Big problem. See, I work in a pretty small field, and there have been no jobs available, at all, in the 13 months since I left. The closest I’ve seen was one about 200 miles away. Barring a miracle, if I want to move back, I’m going to have to end my career in this field and start a new one. I’m prepared for that. I know I wouldn’t make as much money. I’m prepared to make $20K, $30K, maybe even $40K less to start over.
But I don’t even know if I can do that. Simply put, my job skills are a pile of crap. I have a perfect skill set for the career I’m in–just today a job was posted on my career list that I would walk into (too bad it’s on the other side of the country entirely)–but it’s dire for anything else. Examples:
I know not enough SQL. In other words, enough to understand it, not enough to be a programmer in it. And the SQL I know is not enough to help me in any other job. Nobody wants a manager who knows some SQL, they want a manager full stop. The SQL isn’t even a bonus.
I know VBA for Excel and Access. That qualifies me to be a Microsoft Office monkey of some sort. Honestly I don’t even know who would want that. Actually I should say I did know VBA, before I came here and this job didn’t want it, so my skills eroded. Now it feels like a language I took in high school but never learned well enough to speak.
At my current job I write, I research, and I manage a staff of 5 that also write and research. That qualifies me to do my job here very well…and just about nothing else.
I know some data analysis–but not any more than a freshman stats student. And I know some data visualization techniques–provided you have the software I know and are prepared to put up with me tinkering around for hours trying to get it right. Again, those skills are eroding too because I don’t have the chance to use them here.
What I really want, and what does not seem to exist, is a career coach who will look at the skills I have and say, “Well, you could try a career in X.” Knowing full well X may be nothing, I might add. I’m willing to pay good money for that. The last time I hired a career coach, she suggested that I become a college professor. Yes, I’m five years removed from my graduate degree and 33 years old, I will be right on that.
But I should turn right back to the subject of this pitting. Why did I put myself in this situation? Why did I have to choose a career that taught me skills that only helped myself if I stayed in that (extremely limited) career? Why didn’t I take the MBA degree I could have taken, and instead spending that time teaching myself computer languages that don’t help me now? Most of all, why did I run away instead of standing and fighting at my last job?
Because now I’m growing apart from my wife. Because now my kids are growing up without me. And now I’m becoming a different, angrier, more bitter person. If I don’t go back soon I will reach some point of no return. And I can’t go back, because of the choices I made.