I few weeks ago I mentioned that I was changing jobs. I've now spent a few weeks at my new place of employment, trying to get up to speed and do what they've hired me to do. So far it's been pretty good.
Since I'm sure everyone is asking: why, after eight years, did I leave my cushy, well-paying job at an internationally-recognized, employee-owned transportation planning, engineering and construction firm and return to public sector life at the regional council of governments?
The money was better, right?
Not really. I’m actually taking a small pay cut.
But you’re getting more flexibility in your hours, yes?
Actually, just the opposite. My schedule is a bit more rigid at this new job; unlike at my old job I'm actually expected to be somewhere every day at 8 am.
Better benefits? More vacation time?
Benefits are about the same, but I’m actually losing vacation time. I had been at my last job so long that I got three weeks’ paid vacation. At my new job, I’m starting over with two weeks.
But you'll still get to travel for business every so often, right?
Nope. There's no travel outside the Houston area at this new job. No more trips to Dubai. No more trips where I get to fly on a plane and eat at a restaurant and stay at a hotel and put it all on an expense report, period. To be honest, that’s a blessing as much as it is a curse.
So, then, why *did* you decide to change jobs?
Sometimes I ask myself that very question...
No, seriously: I changed jobs because the time had simply come to move on, to try something new, to gain some new skills and experiences. At my previous job, I was pretty much confined to doing one set of tasks; namely, transit planning. The company's corporate structure was such that I was probably not ever going to be involved in highway, bridge and tunnel, freight rail, airport, or maritime planning projects. At my new job, I'll eventually get to work on some of those other types of projects.
Working for the regional planning organization also gives me an opportunity to do things that improve mobility and overall quality-of-life for my hometown. As interesting as it was to work in places like Dallas or Dubai, none of that work was going to benefit me, or my family, or my neighbors, or anybody else here in Houston. Now, I'll be doing work that benefits my heimat.
This is not to say I disliked my previous job. Quite the opposite, in fact; I met a lot of great people, worked on a lot of interesting projects and probably could have stayed there indefinitely, provided the billable hours remained in good supply (sometimes they aren't, which is a disadvantage of life in the private sector). I was simply ready to do something different.
As I said: so far things have been good at my new job. But I've barely scratched the surface of everything they expect me to do there, and I'll have a better idea of just what exactly I've gotten myself into a few months from now.
One cool thing about my new job: due to the agency’s holiday schedule as well as the way my 9/80 work schedule is set up, I get to look forward to no fewer than five four-day weekends this year: Good Friday/Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving.