This week, I brought a cake to my office to celebrate my ten-year work anniversary. Those of us who have been here from the beginning (or close to it) enjoyed reminiscing and discussing how quickly the time has gone. Others, however, remarked that they were amazed to think about being in the same job for ten years. “Ten years?” they said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had one job for that long.”
They wouldn’t be in the minority with this statement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person today will have ten different jobs before they turn 40. That’s a lot of change.
When I was little, I remember thinking about only a few professions. I thought about becoming a teacher, doctor, lawyer, fire fighter, police office or waitress (I always wanted to be a waitress). I think that covered it for me. It’s funny to think about working in a profession that didn’t exist when I was a kid. I couldn’t have predicted these turns that my life has taken, even if I had wanted to think outside the box.
Thinking back on these ten years, and really the 15 years since I made Aliyah, have allowed me to consider many life lessons I’ve learned through my professional path.
When we picked up to pursue our Zionist dreams 15 years ago, I knew that I might need to reinvent myself professionally. I trained in one field, and then worked in it for a decade; I had no idea what I would do, or how I would find a new path, in this new, totally foreign country.
One night, about two years after making Aliyah, I went to a get-together at someone’s house to meet other women in the community where I live. We went around the room introducing ourselves and what we do for a living. It was the only time in the 15 years that I’ve lived here that we did such an activity. One woman mentioned that she works from the house as an SEO writer. This was over a decade ago, when I had no idea what an SEO writer was, but I was intrigued. Rather than simply thinking about it, or wondering, or continuing to struggle with my professional goals, I picked up the phone and called her.
And that phone call changed my professional life.
She explained what she did for a living and, after talking and realizing my skills, she said, “You know, we need someone for five hours a week at our company. Do you want to give it a try?”
I think back to those days, when I was juggling a new country, pregnancies, babies, and an attempt at a career change. I could so easily have chosen to stay home in my pajamas that night; I could have gone out but not chosen to connect what anyone else was saying to myself; I could have chosen not to pick up the phone the next day; I could even more easily have chuckled while on the phone and said “Oh wow, thanks for the thought, but I’m swamped with my work.”
Instead, I got out that night, picked up the phone, said yes to the offer, pursued a new avenue and took the small job; I started juggling even more things on my plate in order to open myself up to the unknown.
Those five hours turned into a new career; and that career choice led to my ten-year anniversary cake this week.
I feel honored and humbled to have found work that I enjoy and that offers me satisfaction in many ways. It’s a testament to the company that I’ve been there for ten years and that I appear to have remained in one place far longer than the average person does today.
But when I look back on the path I’ve taken, I also see all of the “what ifs” scattered at my feet. What if I had stayed in my pajamas and not gone to the party, or not taken that little initiative after the party, or been too tired to accept the five hours a week? Each little effort collectively added to the opportunities that have led me so far in my professional life up until this point.
And those what ifs, and their rejection, have led to the professional success I see today.
Lessons learned on the Aliyah path, and in the twists and turns of all that life has to offer.