My bad career choice made this all possible

Advice I often give people is don’t be lured into taking a job just because you will make more money. There is always another job offering even more money. If salary is your measure of success you will never be content. I think it’s good advice even though if I hadn’t been lured to take a job for more money I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I was happy at my first place of employment. During my six years there I had multiple roles, some better than others, but overall I liked it there. I wasn’t thinking about leaving. In fact, I figured I’d retire there. But I didn’t.

I was in a show with a friend from college. We talked about what we were doing now. I was an ecommerce project manager. He was working for a boutique IT consulting firm. He said they needed project managers. He said I should send him my resume.

Sure. Why not? It’s good to keep your options open, right?

It was weeks before I got a call. I had almost forgotten about the other job. I interviewed. They liked me. They wanted to offer me a job. But I liked my current job. Plus, my office was just a few blocks from my house. I had no reason to leave, so when they quoted me a salary close to what I was currently making I politely declined the offer. They asked what it would take for me to go.

I came up with a number. They said okay. I said I’d also need another week of vacation. They said okay. I said I’d need them to pay back my MBA debt to my current employer. They said okay.

I had inadvertently negotiated myself into an offer I couldn’t refuse. So I took it.

The niche for the consulting firm was largely dot-coms, a bubble which started to burst about six months into my tenure there. At eight months we all got 20% pay cuts. At 11 months I was laid off.

I had never been unemployed before. I took the first job that came along. I did some interesting stuff there, but overall I didn’t like it. Around a year and a half in I was feeling restless. I saw a blurb in the newspaper about Carnegie Mellon starting two new graduate programs for information security. That sounded a lot more interesting than what I was doing, so I applied. I also applied for a scholarship to pay for my potential education.

I both got into the graduate program and got the scholarship, but my funding was a government “scholarship for service” meaning that I needed to work for the federal government after I graduated. That meant moving from the city where I had lived for 14 years even though I hadn’t previously been thinking about leaving.

I took a job in Washington, D.C. I met a guy there. We decided to move to Chicago and get married. We had a kid. We bought a house. We had another kid. I have a good job. I am happy.

I have a good life, but it never would have happened if I hadn’t taken a job because of the money. Otherwise, who knows where I would be now? Maybe I would still have a good life, but it would definitely be a different one. I don’t even wonder what that would be like.

I still think it’s good advice though not to leave a job just because another job offers more money. But sometimes a bad career choice works out okay in the end.

Money in the form of many large bills
Photo by Penywise at

This post was written as a part of Blogapalooz-hour, one night each month when ChicagoNow bloggers are given a topic and challenged to write and publish a blog post about it in an hour. Tonight’s assigned topic was “Write about a decision you made that changed the course of your life for better or worse.” Read other interpretations of this theme here.

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