Choices

Some time during junior high and high school (I believe it was when I was in the 7th grade) I made a choice to pursue a career in weather. I honestly don’t remember what spawned that choice. It might have been a family trip to southern Minnesota where we were chased by tornadoes almost the entire way down. I remember tornado sirens going off as we would pass through towns, and when we made a pit stop in Sleepy Eye, I heard on the radio that there was a tornado headed toward town.

Based on this choice, I went to UND and pursued a degree in meteorology. After graduating from UND I took a job at a company where I was a “meteorologist”. Why the quotes? The job was more of an office assistant than a meteorologist. I did put together reports from field projects, but I didn’t do anything weather related during my 4½ years there.

I was laid off from this company in December 2003 (they eliminated the position). This brought me to a point where I had to make another choice. At the time, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I had taken over the company’s website, so there was one option. Another option was an office/administrative assistant. I was actually one of the final two candidates for an administrative assistant position with Pepsi Co. in town. They ended up going with the other individual, but that was actually the best thing that could have happened to me. I decided to pursue the web development option, which landed me with a smaller local company. I worked at the company for about 3½ years until they closed their doors. At that time, I went to work directly for the final client that the company had. I was with that company until October of last year when I was laid off due to budget cuts (thanks to our lovely economy that still hasn’t recovered).

There was no need to make a choice at that point. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to continue in the field of web development. I just needed to find another job. I managed to find two contract positions. The second of those was supposed to turn into a permanent position, but thanks to our lovely economy, my contract was ended (3 months) early (and 17 other people were laid off).

This brings us to the present and another choice that I must make.

This choice has not been easy for me. It has nothing to do with my choice of careers. I am now, more than ever, confident that I want to continue working in the field of web development. The choice is “where am I going to work?”. I’ve been struggling with this for the past two months (or more actually). There really aren’t many positions around the region (ND/MN/SD) that aren’t .NET or Java or some other language/technology that I don’t have experience in. I’m looking for php/sql based positions since that’s where my experience/background is.

I know that I need to look outside of my “comfort zone”. I just really don’t know where or how to start. I have looked for opportunities in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, but haven’t really found any that excited me. I don’t want to take a job somewhere only to find out that I’m not happy wherever the job is. I did apply for a position in Edmond, OK, but I still haven’t heard anything back (and I was a little excited about the position and the location).

It has been almost two months since my contract was ended, and I’m basically still at square one. I know that there are people out there who have been out of work for much longer than that (in fact, I was unemployed for about 7 months when I switched from a career in a weather related field to a career in the web development field [that was almost 6 years ago]); however, my savings will only last so long, and I’m not collecting unemployment.

I have found one position that is in line with the type of work that I’m looking for. I don’t know the name of the company because the position is through a job agency (and they won’t tell me until an interview is scheduled), but that isn’t really that big of a deal at this point. The thing that has me delaying pursuing it is the salary. Their high end is lower than my low end. It would be a $6/hr pay cut from my last position and a $3/hr pay cut from the position before that. While I don’t expect to start at a new job at the same pay rate as the one my last contract was with, I still have my acceptable range. This one is below that. BUT … the position is a permanent position, not a contract one. AND … if they have decent benefits and are progressive about reviews and pay raises, then this could be a good opportunity. But I was told that they are looking for more of an entry level developer, and with my experience, I don’t consider myself entry level any more (at least not when it comes to php/sql development). I have not written this option off yet. The only down side that I really see (at this point) is the pay. But even if I do pursue it, there’s no guarantee that I would get it.

So that brings me back to my current choice. Do I pursue this position (so that I can stay here), or do I put on my “big girl pants” and seriously start looking for something out of state? I’m really struggling with this one. I need to do what’s best for me … but I have no idea what that is. I just wish I would have an epiphany or would see a sign and know which path to follow … which choice to go with. I’m tired of struggling with this choice. But … at least I know what I want to do. Now I just need to make a choice as to where.