My first career job was as a police officer. I left after 11 years to marry my husband and move to another county. The decision to leave was a no-brainer.
I went to law school and then got my second career job as a litigator in a large law firm. They wanted me to work 80 hour weeks and wear nothing but skirt suits to work. I left after less than 2 years; also a no-brainer.
I became a law professor at the law school I had recently attended; a three year contract. After 3 years, the law school left me. I didn’t have a choice and there was no thought involved.
When I left the meat processing plant where I was general counsel and HR manager, it was my job or my marriage. Although hindsight and a lot of personal development since then has made me wish I could go back and re-do some things, leaving – at least at the time – was another no-brainer.
So when the news broke locally that the non-profit Michigan Humane Society euthanized almost 70% of the animals that came to its facilities last year, I was plunged into a sea of indecisiveness and dilemma that I had never experienced.
Don’t follow? Well, here’s the problem: After years of financial support, I decided to begin volunteering for MHS last year. I became a Facility Ambassador at one of their facilities, helping customers navigate the facility and make sure that people ,particularly potential animal adopters, knew the procedures and didn’t leave out of frustration or the inability to get their questions answered. I worked a regular, weekly shift and ultimately helped train other volunteers. I believed in the adage that the best way to help animals was to help people.
But I saw things I didn’t like, particularly management practices (or lack thereof) that seemed old-fashioned and ineffective. I was angered by the poor communication between the management, staff, and volunteers. I was heartbroken, though, by the number of people who surrendered their animals to the facility because they no longer had the financial resources to care for them.
So when two members of the Board of Directors quit when the other members refused to submit to an outside audit about the euthanasia practices, I knew somewhere in my heart that it was time to withdraw my physical, emotional, and financial support for this organization. My head didn’t follow as quickly, though, and I spent hours trying to run down information, checking charity ratings on CharityNavigator.org, comparing salaries, practices, and transparency with similar shelters, trying to turn my original, emotional decision into an intellectual one. I even asked for my friends’ opinions on Facebook. It worked, though, and now both my head and heart agree: it’s time to leave.
For the first time, making a career break of some kind was a hard, hard thing to do. Neil Sedaka must have been forseeing my future when he took his jaunty, doobie-do 1962 hit and turned it into a soulful ballad in 1975.