Consider the job you don’t want – it can make all the difference…

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes, well, you might find

You get what you need

 – The Rolling Stones

I recently interviewed a candidate for a public health position who told me the experience she gained working in a rural hospital was some of the most valuable experience she’d ever had.  Interestingly, it was her only job offer when she graduated in the 2008 recession and at the time she had not wanted to take it. She wanted to be in a metro area in a large hospital setting. But she did take it, and it turned out to be a smart choice.

Her story reminded me that my first job after graduate school was a job I did not think I wanted.  It meant relocation far from my friends and family.  And it was an internship.  I’d had two internships already and the last job title I wanted again was “intern.” But there was a recession going on with double digit inflation and few jobs available.  So, I packed up my car and drove 500 miles west — I did not know a single person in that city.  I stayed for two years, gained an incredible amount of valuable experience and made lifelong friends. It was very lonely at times, no question about it.  All things considered though, I look back upon the professional development I gained along with the personal growth I experienced as life altering. Professionally, I had the opportunity to witness policymaking at the highest level of a major city.  I stayed on for a year as a budget analyst and gained experience that has benefitted me throughout my career.  Personally, I learned how to really live on my own, forge a new path, make new friends and become comfortable with solitude.

It is important to remember that decisions like the one the public health professional and I made do not have to be permanent.  She ended up in a major metro area working at a large hospital.  I ended up back in the Chicago area working in a suburban local government,  reconnected to friends and family. Sometimes we can be so locked into what we want in a job that we miss what we might gain from an unexpected experience.

The fallout from the COVID-19 virus will likely include unemployment and job shortages. Job seekers may find they need to take a position they may not really want for financial reasons.  In that case, focus on what you can learn, the difference you can make and how to maximize the experience.  Maybe once inside a large organization, you can prove yourself and move into a position more aligned with your career goals.  Whatever you do, keep a positive attitude – regardless of the economy, it continues to be a key to long term success and happiness.

By: Heidi Voorhees, President