The Two-Year Itch
EACE Blog contribution by Kelly Scott, Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University
As I round the corner of two years at Northeastern University (as a full time employee come January 2nd!) I have noticed this feeling I can only describe as restlessness. Let me clarify, I am by no means bored; in fact, I am busier than ever both at work and personally. My professional responsibilities continue to grow between hiring an intern, spring semester planning and marketing/social media initiatives the department has taken on. Outside of work, I’ve been serving on a city council as well as managing personal obligations and a part-time job. So no, I’m definitely not bored, but still restless.
During a recent routine bi-weekly meeting with my supervisor, she asked me if I was feeling okay. “Yes!” I replied, “Totally fine, just busy I guess.” Apparently, I was looking a little bit off to her, which wasn’t untrue- I was feeling a little off. We talked through some other matters and after digesting our conversation for a bit, it hit me: I was an adult, and this was my full-time, adult, job.
I know what you’re thinking- umm, duh, but for my past working years, there has always been an end in sight, and it had usually come right about now- at the two year mark. For the record, I really love my job, and I don’t see myself leaving anytime in the near future, but I recognized my body/brain gearing up for a change. I also respect that as a new professional, two years in a role isn’t all that long. I think I have a lot more to learn and contribute to my department and in my current role before moving on, but I couldn’t deny the feeling of antsy-ness that was there. So, in the words of my favorite political TV diva Olivia Pope, I needed to “handle it”.
If you’re a young professional also feeling “the itch” but aren’t quite ready to leave, below are some of my coping mechanisms.
- Don’t ignore the feeling.
Once I identified what was going on, I could determine how to deal with it. Judge me all you want (coughmillennialcough), but I’m somebody that needs a lot of stimulation, change and variety to stay engaged. I enjoy learning new things and tackling new projects, but I sometimes straddle the overachiever/overwhelmed zone and as a result end up melting into a puddle of bad reality TV watcher on my couch. That said, upon my revelation, I surveyed all that I was doing personally and at work. I chronologically noted when some projects and obligations were coming to an end and what was expected of me in the next couple months. This included work projects and personal obligations like baby showers, weddings (I’m 29, so I’m in the thick of that) and events for the city council I’m on. This solidified for me that even though I felt slightly restless and maybe even kind of “bored”, I had a lot of cool things going on and coming up.
- Look for a new project
After surveying, I decided that I could take on something new after the holidays to help satisfy “the itch”. I had been playing with the idea of reaching out to a non-profit to teach (very) part-time as well as beginning a MBA program at the university. Both are exciting new ventures for me but both are under my control in the sense that I can choose how many classes I want to teach and/or take.
- Start actively exploring your next move
I’ve always worked multiple jobs and have had a very interesting career trajectory to this point. I can’t say I’ll stay in higher education forever because I’m honestly not sure. With that, part of “scratching the itch” is thinking about what my next career move will be. Beginning to research and explore other feasible options is really exciting and helps inform what I do at my current position. Because I’m not in any rush, this can be done through casual networking, informational interviewing and good, old-fashioned research.
So, if you’re restless and thinking of jumping ship, try to hold off and process what’s making you antsy. If you think you’ve accomplished all that you can in your current position, than it may be time to make a move, otherwise, do some research and network before making the leap.
Kelly is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University Career Development and “blog master” for the Northeastern University Career Development blog, The Works. A self-proclaimed social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she likes experimenting with new technology to help clients define their personal online brand and enjoys reading and writing about workplace culture. Kelly graduated from Northeastern University with a BA in communication studies and a MS in college student development and counseling. Contact her via Twitter @kellydscott4 or LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kellykonevichscott/.