Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Good news at the end of a long search

In the five and a half years since Heidi and I did not move to Africa, I have struggled in my career. The first job I got after we knew we were staying in the United States was at Costco. I took the job as a seasonal employee since I could not find anything in three months of searching and needed some money coming in. On Christmas Eve I found myself collecting carts in a blinding snowstorm. I did not really enjoy that experience. One year and two jobs later I found myself working for someone with whom I did not get along. For three years I was looking for something else while hoping against hope that she would move on. A year and a half ago she told the other staff person and myself that she was leaving. It was a happy, happy day. People who know me would agree that I don't have much trouble getting along with people so for me to struggle so much with someone was unusual. It seemed that things had turned the corner in my career but that did not end up being the case.

For the last four and half years I have worked for a trade association for the remodeling industry. Most of my work involved recruiting new members but I also had quite a few other responsibilities. When the Executive Director left, I applied for the job. Unfortunately, my previous boss did not paint a favorable picture of me to the Board of Directors.  I was not given a true interview and informed via email that someone else was offered the job. It was a tough pill to swallow. To this point all of my attempts to find a different job had failed so I had no choice but to stay the course until I could find new employment.

The positive in all of this was that Nick, who the Board hired instead of me, is a pretty great guy. We pretty quickly settled into a good working relationship and I was able to heal from the three years with the previous boss. Working with him also allowed me to hone some skills that I did not really know that I had.

At his point I should point out that I was struggling with my identity in regard to my career. My job felt like a dead end since I was unable to advance to the Executive Director position. I would look at some of my former classmates and see what they had accomplished and felt pretty small in comparison. Yeah, I know that is dumb, but I still did it all the time. Every day I thought about how I wished for a career move with a better title and better pay but no matter how many positions I applied for, nothing was happening.

I admit with shame that I was struggling in a big way to trust God with my career and finances. I could have faith for others to see a breakthrough but I was thinking that none would be coming for me. It seemed that my struggle with confidence in that area of my life would continue indefinitely. All I could think about was how I am past 40 and my career is stalled. This was not how I pictured things going when I was younger.

A month or so ago at church the pastor invited people up for prayer at the end of the service. He specifically encouraged people who were struggling with issues of employment to come up. After a minute of watching me stare forward Heidi nudged me and told me to get up there. I am so happy to have a wise wife. So I trudged to the front with no faith at all that God was going to move. A young woman that Heidi and I had met a week before came and prayed for me. She told me that she felt the Lord say that He is waiting for me to put my eyes on him and there will be a breakthrough. That was the point when I finally started to trust again.

I had decided that there was one of two tracks that my career could follow and either would be fine. The first was to pursue association management and the second was to get into non-profit development (fundraising). In the past year I had had promising interviews in both fields but neither led to an offer. At least I knew I was on a reasonable track. So a few weeks ago I saw a job on LinkedIn and decided to apply. It was for an organization that works with eye care professionals. They were looking for someone to manage two small trade associations and it seemed like a good fit for me. To my surprise, they called the next day to set up an interview. It was only after I had agreed to the interview that I realized that they are based in Woodbury, about a 35 minute one way drive from my house. I take pride in having a short commute to work and never would have applied if I had realized where it was.

Before the interview was scheduled I had set up a networking meeting with a woman who is friends with our good friends Peter and Julie. She is a Major Gifts Officer for a large non-profit and I wanted to pick her brain about fundraising. We talked for about 45 minutes and I was able to pick up some helpful ideas. From there I headed to Woodbury for the interview and I was not terribly enthused about it. That worked in my favor.

About halfway through the interview I found that I was not all that interested in the job. It was a good opportunity but I was thinking how I would not be upset if no offer followed. Then, about two thirds of the way through, the CEO of the organization joined the interview. The completely caught me by surprise when she started asking about my fundraising background. She proceeded to tell me that they need someone to run their foundation and offer career services to their members and how she has never seen anyone with a background in both. I told her that I was interested (in my mind I was ecstatic but I tried to stay cool) and that I would love to get more information. At the end of the interview they asked for me to send my professional references and that they would follow up with me after the finished all the initial interviews. Then I had to wait. I hate waiting.

After a week and a half I got a call from Janice. She offered me the job right then over the phone. I asked to give her an answer in the morning but it was pretty much a done deal. After praying about it, I accepted the job. I'll get a nice jump in salary and a better benefits package. My current boss took the news well and I am excited to start in a couple of weeks.

I don't know what will happen next but I am grateful to God for his provision and I feel so much better positioned for the future. All of the waiting was frustrating but I know that I can trust God in all circumstances. Over the last few years I have been able to be grateful for my wonderful wife, four adorable children,  great family and friends in my life, and a house that we love but I was mostly not grateful for my job. I am grateful that God is good all the time, even when I have trouble remembering it. 

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