Random Thoughts

Job Transitions

I left my job at Mozilla back in March. After a year of re-orgs, late nights, and layoffs, I reached a point where the emotional impact of my job was unsustainable. Leaving a company, team, and project that I loved very much was a difficult experience – it feels weird to talk about “grieving” a workplace, but I do. Mozilla was one of the first jobs that I had where I felt deeply supported by leadership (for a time) while working with a team on a project aligned with my life’s mission — helping people create meaningful immersive experiences. Going through COVID-19 meant that for the majority of a full year, my coworkers were the people I was most connected to outside of the people I lived with. Leaving coworkers who have become friends will never be easy for me.

The transition was a challenge. I had planned on spending three weeks before starting my new job to address the fact that I had been neglecting sleep and doctor’s appointments. I ended up with a week and a half. Instead of scheduling time to rest, I found it hard to disconnect and continued to frequent my old team’s public forums and messaged my former team mates. While I was in the process of leaving Mozilla, I was also watching a lot of virtual on-boarding videos for my new role, and finding myself both excited and nervous for what was ahead of me.

The most time I’ve ever had between jobs was three weeks. When I left High Fidelity to join Mozilla back in 2019, I took three weeks off and they felt like magic. Sure, the last week of my break was SXSW, and I was spending a lot of the two weeks prior preparing for a panel on VR expression and identity, but it was “enough” of a break, right?

During my week and a half off this time around, I was productive. I did my pre-boarding work, brushed up on my game development skills, and made myself office artwork to capture the 14 leadership principles that I would be expected to demonstrate at Amazon. I wrote a lot of journal entries about change and growth and transition. I saw my family and tried to get a few wedding planning tasks done.

To give credit to AWS, their employee on-boarding was on-point, especially given the odd nature of joining such a large company remotely. I had plenty to do and learn, and from the first day, I was set up with resources to help me get acclimated to my new role. The first couple of weeks were busy, but manageable: I was going through my list of to-dos, starting project work, and getting looped in on meetings.

The challenge really started when that initial list of onboarding materials was finished. I realized a few weeks in to my new role how much I missed the camaraderie of lunches and coffees and playing games with my team – something we did often at Mozilla. One of Amazon’s leadership principles is “build trust” – and it’s hard to quantify how much trust is built within a team “in between” the regular job functions that you might be participating in. The little moments of catching folks in the kitchen for coffee or being invited to lunch can have a significant impact on how you get to know people, and sponteneity is a challenge when you’re remote. But, it’s not impossible!

A lot of people that I know are going through their own transitional periods right now. I think that there’s a lot to be said about the uncertainty of the past year and how it’s had an effect on how we view ourselves and the environments that we’re a part of. For me, periods of uncertainty are ripe for self-evalution and making changes. This time around, I’ve been more cognizant of growth, and how it happens through lots of small changes in addition to the big steps that we take. While a job transition certainly is a big change that can lead to growth, I’ve been especially focused on the little moments that are more repeatable from day to day. That feels like it might have a bigger impact in the long run.

I’m now more than two months in, and it’s starting to feel like my new normal. I’m fortunate that I was in an environment where I was able to admit when I was struggling with my job transition, and that I was given additional support. I’ve been really enjoying my job lately, and have felt more comfortable with uncertainty and change. Being remote has also made me think more about how I can ask better questions to get to know people, and that journey is also one that is a small change in how I act in the world.

It’s amazing how much can feel different in such a short amount of time.