I am where I am professionally because of inertia. And nothing else.
Maybe some of you out there in Jaffe World can relate to this.
How I Got Here
I went to college in the 90s, right at the end of a generation in which we’re basically told to get a degree not because of the profession that might await us at the end of the tunnel, but to enrich our minds. Choose based on interest, not utility.
So at that time in my life, I was deeply exploring my Judaism, and thus chose to get a degree in Judaic Studies. And I aced it! And waited for the millions to start flying in on the other side.
They did not come.
I finished my degree in Israel, and desperately wanted to study in yeshiva. In 2002, I found the perfect program. I could study intensely for three years, get a monthly stipend for doing so, live rent free, and walk away with rabbinic ordination. My paper collection was about to expand!
After the program was over, one of my teachers hired me to go out into the real world and put my knowledge and skills to the test, as I entered Cornell University as the JLIC Torah Educator. And thus began my journey as an educator, a field I never really considered entering.
How I Found the Tech World
It was a glorious year. It came with many challenges. But it was pretty fun. And I think I did a decent job.
But it didn’t feel authentic to me. I felt like I had to pull teeth to get people to come to my classes. I didn’t want to recruit. I wanted to share knowledge. So I made the leap from informal to formal education, and thus began my nine years teaching hundreds of kids in both Baltimore and Kansas City.
Somewhere in the mix, I started incorporating technology a lot into my classroom and ended up being pegged as the “tech guy”, which led me to both a fascination with computers, and ending up being a computer teacher. While this was all happening, I got a Masters in Education, and a whole wall-full of tech certifications.
So when I was ready to permanently jump away from education, these all helped ease my transition into the next phase of my professional life: The Tech World.
I took the first job I could find, doing Quality Assurance for a company that designed websites for car dealerships. And at first it was all fine and dandy. But I was a contract employee, which means I was essentially hired by an agency. And even though I was 100% working for a specific company, my paychecks and benefits came from the agency. It was a pretty rough situation, watching most of those around me constantly benefiting from cool aspects of the company, that were just not things I would receive.
And then my company merged with another… and they decided to dump all their contract employees.
So I found another contract position. And hung out there until my contract ran out, leaving me with just a tiny amount of time before I would be off on a plane, restarting my life once again in Israel.
The First Six Years in Israel
The bills need to get paid, so I searched high and low for a job for when I made my big return. And I landed my current position, which I’ve held on to and conquered for the past six years. And they’ve been a pleasure.
My job is not very meaningful. I’m not changing the world. I’m not creating situations where people hug me because of the massive impact I’ve had on their lives.
But, the job has been fairly cushy. It’s a vast company, and easy to get lost in. So even though I worked a lot and hard, I still scored a lot of free time out of the deal. And that free time has kept me alive. It’s kept me busy and smiling.
And unlike most jobs I come across in Israel, it handily pays a whole lot of the bills.
But like every other big tech company in the world, at some point it just starts letting people go. It doesn’t matter if you’re an exemplary and ultra-loyal employee (I was both). When the chopping block arrives, anyone can be a victim.
And it finally landed on me.
Getting Pushed from Place to Place
Now, if you carefully observe my employment history, there was never a point along the way in which I enthusiastically took on a new challenge, ultra-excited to finally make my big impact on the world. I never chose a career path. I kind of just let the world push me from place to place. And even though I always landed on my feet, I’ve never felt like I was standing where I belong.
And now here I am. I’m forced to make some big decisions. The layoff fairy has finally sprinkled her dust at my feet.
But what will happen next?
In Israel, and perhaps everywhere, you often just need to “get a job”. The “where” isn’t all that important. There just needs to be some money coming in.
I’ve done that a few times in my life. I did telemarketing for the New York Republic State Committee, sold Lotto tickets and cigarettes at a newsstand, cleaned a nasty bakery, and stood mindlessly for hours in front of a hospital… which some would call “working as a security guard”.
I don’t think I have the stomach to regress to a job like one of these again.Even though I always landed on my feet, I've never felt like I was standing where I belong. Click To Tweet
Will I Break the Shackles of Inertia?
Of course, I can hunt far and wide for a job like the one I’ve had the last six years. Not ultra-complicated. Certainly not very fulfilling. But it pays the bills, gives a certain welcome level of freedom to my life, and is a hearty step or two above all the aforementioned grunt roles.
But the final and arguably best choice is to forge a new path. To finally break the inertia, figure out what the world wants with me, find my true passion, and pursue it with every last ounce of energy I possess.
I don’t yet know which road I will traverse.
I have no idea what the future holds for me.
All I can say is: I’m sick of just being tossed wherever the tide takes me.
And I am so damn curious what will happen next.