What Do I Want?

2 years out of college, still… no clue.

my last day at my current job was yesterday, and i start on my new career adventure one week from today.

it hardly feels like i’ve been at my current job for 6 months, and i’ve been here for 14.

i get mixed responses when i tell people i’m leaving already. because that’s what i get most of the time: “already? you just started!” except i didn’t just start. it HAS been 14 months, but apparently a year seems like too little to some people.

my favorite response so far is, “you can’t leave the government. people usually come to the government to stay!” just… no.

and then i’ve had a handful of people tell me the exact opposite: “for your first few years out of college, switch jobs every 1 or 2 years.”

obviously, i agree with the handful of people. i don’t think it’s really possible to know exactly where you belong in corporate america being this new to it. or in my case, the government/DoD contracting world. i don’t know if i even belong in this area either, but it makes up the bulk of what charleston has to offer, and i have a feeling i’ll be here for a while.


if i’ve learned anything in this time frame, it’s what i DON’T want, and what i don’t want is this: a mentally sedentary job, work without a challenge.

i’ve gotten 6 certifications in 2 years. many people consider that insane, and i would be tempted to lean that way, myself. but… if i hadn’t made myself get them, i would be in a far worse position.

i want everything to stay fresh on my mind. i want all of those skills to be practically muscle memory. i want to USE the languages i know on a regular or at least semi-regular basis. i want to be forced to learn new ones. i want to be forced to work with systems i’ve never even used before. it’s the reason i make websites and apps on the side. it’s the reason i reformat and break things as often as i do. it’s the reason i decided to get my certifications. it’s the reason i miss the LUG group back at appalachian. if i’m not learning at work, it has to happen somehow.

i don’t mix with never ending conference calls and 200 page excel sheets and incessantly waiting on emails and approvals and funding. when that’s PART of my work, sure, but certainly not when that IS the work. i’d gladly go back to my summer of being a cable monkey before i continue any further down this path.

side note: before i get ahead of myself, i just realized this may be misleading because of posts like this one or this one. i am no longer working on that task for multiple reasons that i do not wish to drag onto the internet.


i felt like the longer i stayed where i was, the more my skill sets would wither away. i didn’t get to USE them, and it wasn’t always that way (see links to earlier posts). definitely not when i was a contractor. but the amount of hands-on or technical time that was required of me had shrunk to less than an hour a week. i tried to get out of that situation multiple times, and after a lot of (literally) door-to-door begging, empty promises, multiple failed attempts, and a lot of waiting, i decided to just fix it.

although, i must say that i will miss these throughout my day:


surprisingly, an e-mail from the only person who keeps me sane in the lab.

so here i am. and i don’t really know what to expect out of the new job, but i do know that i will be surrounded by a lot of ridiculously smart and nerdy people. people who are willing to share that knowledge. i’ll be able to learn from them and from my own tasks.

in a word: relief.


  • Mom says:

    Hey, Jennifer can still e-mail you about her food!

  • Mustachioed Guy says:

    You could always try McMurdo Station. That should be an adventure, i'm assuming you love bacon and narwhals and saw the AMA from the guy there not to long ago.

  • Stacey says:

    I often feel the same way as you and I know a lot of people do but are scared to make the move to get past the comfort of their current job. Kudos to you for wanting more and going after it! Can you talk about what the new job is?

    I realized a lot about what I want and what's not for me these past few weeks and in a few months will be making some big changes myself.

    You're awesome, Whitney.

  • Kainaw says:

    I worked for the same people (probably in the same lab – does it still have tons of "lost" equipment under the pull-up floor?) in 2003. Here's what I blogged way back then: http://shaunwagner.com/blog.html – and they are right. Most people work there to stay. Technically, they stay long enough to move over to the contractor commonly referred to as the "retirement community" and cash in on the sweet kickbacks.

    • there is no pull up floor in the lab. it has cube space on one side so i think they first built it for that. and the blog you wrote == spot ON. my god. hahaha. i can understand staying for the kick backs. however… i can't see myself, at 25, staying until retirement. good god that would be painful.

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