scorecardAfter 11 years at the same company, I became bored and bitter. The pandemic was the kick in the pants I needed to find a role in another field that gave me joy.
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After 11 years at the same company, I became bored and bitter. The pandemic was the kick in the pants I needed to find a role in another field that gave me joy.

Angela Hatem   

After 11 years at the same company, I became bored and bitter. The pandemic was the kick in the pants I needed to find a role in another field that gave me joy.
Careers5 min read
  • Angela Hatem worked for the same not-for-profit for 11 years and enjoyed most of her years there.
  • But when the pandemic hit it was a wakeup call that she was no longer happy.

This story is part of "How the Pandemic Changed My Career," an Insider series documenting the moves and moments that shaped people's careers over the last two years.

When it comes to choosing careers, I consider myself a realistic dreamer. I shoot for positions that merge the skills I'm professionally good at with my passions and pipe dreams.

Growing up, I was hugely into music. I knew my chances of becoming the next Adele were slim to none, so when I was 23 I took a job in event planning at a radio station.

After my radio-station job, I accepted a position in the fundraising department for a sports-focused not-for-profit, as sports were another passion of mine as a kid. It was there that I spent the next 11 years of my career.

For 8 of those years, I loved going to work

Every day I learned something new and faced a new challenge. The classic job-description safety net of "other duties as assigned" wasn't a burden to me but an opportunity.

While my key responsibility was fundraising, my unofficial part-time position was database administrator, and I was tasked with data integrity, user adoption, and troubleshooting issues.

I wasn't ceremoniously given this job because I possessed the skill set — at the time I could barely program people's numbers into my phone. But what I lacked in know-how I made up for in interest. It was like doing a puzzle day after day, and, surprisingly, I was good at these types of puzzles.

At about Year 9, I started to feel like my challenges were less and less and my boredom and bitterness were building

I was on autopilot, getting the job done but not really feeling like I was going anywhere. I kept trying to squirm my way more into the tech side of my role, but fundraising was my focus, and I began to resent it.

By the time the pandemic hit, all the bitterness, boredom, and resentment I'd piled up made a skyscraper of complacency.

Like everyone in the world, in March 2020 I was quarantining at home

My then-11-month-old son's daycare closed, and there were a lot of big question marks out in the world, but we were home safe and contained.

Initially I thought quarantine was going to be this unforeseen and brief extension to my maternity leave — another chance for me to be physically present for his "must see" moments.

On April 24, 2020, as I sat on our living-room floor playing blocks and taking a conference call, I watched as my son took his first steps. I screamed like a banshee into my unmuted phone, terrifying my coworkers and my son in one loud swoop, but I didn't care.

A few days following his initial steps, my boy said his first three-syllable word: "bas-ket-ball." We went on walks together during the day, and I sent emails while he took his naps.

I crammed my business hours in where I could

My office was open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and I had to regularly participate in meetings via phone during that time.

Sitting in front of my computer all day was nearly impossible. If I was too focused on my email, I wasn't focused enough on my son climbing on the couch. If I was too distracted while sending emails, there was a huge chance of embarrassing typos. So I learned to wait to respond until my son was in bed.

Time for myself was nonexistent. The only time I wasn't in motion was when I slept. I was giving all I could, and it felt like it was never enough.

In August 2020 my son's daycare reopened, and I opted to return to the office for 3 days a week

Returning wasn't required at this point, but I did feel a twinge of invisible peer pressure to make an appearance. Our team did the best they could to make those still working virtually feel connected, but there was a divide, and it scared me. I had a very deep concern that if I was out of sight, I was out of mind, and if I was either or both I would be out of a paycheck.

From a responsibility perspective, it was also difficult to ask organizations and individuals for donations during this time. Businesses were closing. People were losing their jobs. The world was a disaster — and in a lot of ways, so was I.

I knew I wasn't happy, but I couldn't stop moving to figure out why.

Then in November 2020, I contracted COVID-19

I thankfully experienced only mild physical symptoms. But I'd become ill with the thing the whole world was terrified of, and that was alarming.

And it made me evaluate my life. I was bored, unhappy, and bitter, and when I took the time to really think about who I was bored, unhappy, and bitter with, it wasn't my employer at all — it was with myself. I was no longer curious about the work I was doing. It was only a matter of time before all the negativity spilled into my personal life and impacted how I raised my son.

So I began taking stock of what makes me happy and makes me feel like me

To be the best version of myself, I knew I needed to be challenged, have flexibility, and care about what I was doing. The dreamer in me wanted to take a chance on myself and my interest in tech. The realist in me knew I had to do something with the relationship skills and my knowledge of nonprofits.

I began reaching out to my network of tech-focused friends and asking for their advice. Two of them pointed me toward my current employer, Arkus, a consulting firm that assists nonprofits and other businesses in using the Salesforce platform.

My friends were kind enough to put in a good word for me, and I joined Arkus in July 2021 as an implementation consultant

Through the work I do, I get to make a difference. As an added bonus, as Salesforce is always growing and changing, every day is a learning day. Much like with my previous employer, I get to do this work alongside some truly brilliant and supportive people.

My workspace is where I make it, and I'm provided the freedom, flexibility, and tools to achieve my goals. My personal life is respected, appreciated, and honored. I probably put in more hours than I did at my previous role, but with the ability to define my own schedule it doesn't feel like it. I had an amount of flexibility in my previous role, but creating distance from work and personal life wasn't easy.

I've been a grown-up in the workforce for roughly 22 years, yet this is the first time in my career where I've felt like I'm treated as an adult

As a single mother and professional, it wasn't an easy decision to take a chance on myself and leave the security, history, mission, and friendships of my old job, but it was one of the best rolls of the dice I ever made.

I don't want to give the pandemic too much credit, if any, in helping me ask myself the tough questions. I would have gotten there eventually. But it's hard not to be grateful for such a powerful kick in the pants.