It’s Monday, December 23rd. I’m off of work, although I just messaged my fabrication technician to see if we got one of our tools (pieces of equipment) back up and running from a small maintenance issue. I’m not sure why I feel so tied to the place, especially after having lunch with my former work wife and talking about the compensation scheme at her new job.

She left the company about a year ago to join a bigger organization. I knew she was leaving. There was too much managerial bullshit and she came to realize that she was being paid less than other colleagues who had been there for less time. It’s been a different year since her departure for several reasons.

First, I feel like she was my only real peer in the building. All the other engineers have either much more or much less seniority or they are above or below me in the pecking order. Thus, I feel like I’m down to a team of one.

Second, her departure and a previous layoff have left no diversity in our engineering/science staff. I think this is a big loss for the company as a whole. Different perspectives and ways of thinking are critical to improving success. My colleague was not the most organized, but she had a way of pushing and an attitude that got things done. I too like to get things done, but I take more of the “please and thank you” approach. I’m hoping in moving forward we are able to hire more diversity, but I think that my company is oblivious to it.

Thirdly, my interactions with her are making me realize that I potentially am getting a shit deal in terms of overall compensation. It’s definitely an incentive desert. There are no bonus for company or personal performance opportunities. While my salary isn’t horrible, it makes me think I could be doing much better in terms of compensation and work-life balance. With the possible reality that I could be doing better for myself and for life, it makes me think I need to be looking for greener pastures.

The one thing I had, that I seem to no longer have at this job is the ability to work on new stuff. I could go after funding or customers that I could leverage into building something new and advance the technology. Now I’m essentially feeling stuck in some low level management role where the only thing that matters is making the materials for building existing products. There’s a sense of hopelessness that goes with that. A sense that I have gone as far as the road at my company can take me.

The more I write on this the more it seems like I ought to take that, as Robert Frost put it, “the road less traveled”. Part of what’s keeping me hesitant is the apparent stability of my job. I get a check, I’m able to feed and support my kids and more or less live life. So I cast doubt on the existence of better personal satisfaction as it likely being the “green grass on the other side of the fence”. Still, there’s no harm in seeing what’s out there, right? I can interview and turn down opportunities if they’re not fitting what I’m looking for.

In perusing the LinkedIn and other job pages there are several opportunities across a range of companies that might be a decent fit. There are also a few intriguing university jobs that might be worth submitting the longer application that typically includes a teaching statement, a research agenda along with a full curriculum vitae (CV), cover letter and references that will actually be checked.

Fortunately, I do keep my CV up to date and have drafted all the other statements. I’m having my brother-in-law take a look at my teaching statement as he’s a college professor; albeit in modern dance and not physics/engineering. I also have generated a short form resume, but may need an extra set of eyes for that as well.

So, as I take this week off from my current job it will be a good time for reflection and taking a look for what else is out there. I know that if I’m patient and calm and just work on moving forward to some pace, the right opportunity will happen. Ultimately, happiness is a matter of one’s perspective. It may have to be relegated to being content with the current situation, but it doesn’t always have to be.