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How Long Is Too Long To Stay At One Job?

Source | Forbes : By Liz Ryan 

We met a guy named Anthony at a university where I went to speak.

“I’m going to introduce you when you present tomorrow,” said Anthony, who met my colleague Molly and me for a cup of coffee the day before the event.

“What is your connection with tomorrow’s conference?” we asked Anthony.

“I’m on the planning committee,” he said.

“My employer is very involved in the organization that is hosting this conference.”

“What do you do in your job?” we asked. 

“I’m an Associate Director of a research institute,” said Anthony.

“We conduct a ton of research on educational and scientific topics and we publish our research. We apply for grants and spend the money on educational outreach programs and lots of other good things.”

“Do you love your work?” we asked Anthony.

“I love the mission of the organization,” said Anthony, “but not my specific job. Take this conference — my boss tolerates my involvement in it, but he doesn’t really see the value. He is not a visionary guy.”

“What is your personal mission?” we asked, and Anthony said “I am passionate about teaching kids to love science. I have worked on a number of initiatives to enhance science teaching around the world.”

“Thank God!” I said. “That’s a great mission. I was shocked when I learned that my kids’ high school science classes are exactly like my high school science classes, over thirty years ago.”

“You’ve touched on a hot topic,” said Anthony. “A lot of science teachers feel the same way you do. The science curriculum needs to be revamped, and not just at the high school level. That is one of the topics I’m passionate about, but there are others, too. Kids can do science at home and come up with incredible ideas, but they need a different kind of support than they’re getting now.”

“Does your job let you work on the things you’re passionate about?” asked Molly.

“No, and that’s my problem,” said Anthony. “My job doesn’t let me spend time on the things I care about. In order to do that, I have to be the Director. That’s my boss’ job. He will retire in about 10 years and I have a shot at his job then, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get it.”

“You’re kidding!” Molly and I exclaimed. “You can’t be more than what, 37?”

“I’m 39,” said Anthony. “I’ll be 49 or 50 when my boss retires. Like I said, there’s no guarantee that I’ll get promoted, but that avenue seems like my best career move right now — to stick it out at the institute for another ten years, and then shoot for that promotion.”

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