How to make a tough career decision

Sometimes, life decides to throw you a curveball. You are forced to make a decision while stuck between a rock and a hard place. I was in this anxiety-inducing place about a week ago.

I had the problem (a quite fortunate one) of being faced with two different jobs: one that I had accepted prior to the end of the last school year, and the other an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I am by nature not a person that goes back on my commitments—it makes me feel anxious and guilty, generally not emotions I enjoy.

Both jobs were phenomenal in their own way—the one I had already accepted was going to challenge me in ways I hadn’t ever been challenged before. I would have to interact with my peers and high school students while trying to create an environment that would allow those students to be open and willing to dream for the future. It could be called a “typical college job” in that it was short-term with no room for advancement.

The second position I was offered was with the organization I had a prior unpaid internship with earlier this year. This position was tailored for me—the supervisor was by far one of my favorites of all time and was an amazing person to work for and work with. She created the position with me in mind and asked if I would be willing to do it.

I was faced with having to choose between the job I had already committed to and the job that would further my career and build my resume (at a location and with a supervisor I already knew). I was stressed and anxious. I thought of every possible scenario: would I be able to work both? No. Would I regret not taking the second position? Probably. Would I feel guilty and immensely apologetic if I did quit the first job? Most likely.

Making the decision to quit a job for another is never easy, but was ultimately one that I felt at peace with. I talked with friends and loved ones at length about the problem, I prayed for guidance and peace, and I took a risk—I took the second position that was offered and quit the first. It was hard, to say the least—I still feel horrible for quitting before I even started. I still feel horrible for accepting the position and later taking that commitment back. But thankfully, the first supervisor was understand and knew what it was like to be in my position. She was disappointed, but supportive of my choice.

Ultimately, in situations like this you are the only one that can make the final decision. For some that is a relief and for others (like me) it makes the decision-making process all that much more intimidating and anxiety-inducing. Making this decision requires a lot of patience, making sure you ask all the questions you can so that all the cards are on the table, and making the most informed decision you can. Honestly, I ended up going the direction that my gut told me to go since I got the second offer, but I needed to talk the situation through with friends and family. I needed to be able to vocalize my fears, anxieties, and thought processes.

At the end of the day, make the decision that is best for your career, your goals, your life, and your happiness. Because no one can live that but you—no one else will be living your life every day so you must make the decision you feel is right, with or without the support of others.

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