Wendy Cole, Karen Dafoe, and Steven Wade 2015-04-01 11:06:23
In a tight job market, many people are faced with the prospect of moving away from home to start a career. The idea of moving out of an established “comfort zone,” whether in a geographic or psychological sense, can cause stress and anxiety. Is this discomfort temporary? What are the benefits that make leaving a comfort zone worthwhile for those who make the move? To address this issue, we conducted a literature review of relevant research to identify questions and surveyed librarians and archivists about taking jobs outside of their comfort zones. We aimed to gain a better understanding of why these individuals relocate, as well as advice they had for those who are considering a move. Research Methodology We developed a fourteen-question survey for participants who have not moved for a job and provided twenty-six questions for those who have. The questions were designed to discover if people were willing to consider jobs that would take them out of their comfort zones and if people who have moved for a job benefitted from a relocation. We created the survey using SurveyMonkey and sent it to the SAA listserv and the Louisiana State University-SLIS listserv. The survey remained open for eighteen days and included yes/no questions, ranking questions, and free-response questions. Analysis The 344 survey participants were divided into two main groups: those who had relocated for a job (63.95 percent) and those who had not (36.05 percent). Of the people who had relocated for a job, a majority moved more than 500 miles (69 percent), did not know anyone else where they moved (70 percent), and felt at home in their new locations in less than a year (63 percent). Gender, age, and marital status seem to play no significant role in whether or not participants relocated for a job. Responses in these categories were consistent between the two groups. Among LIS professionals, archivists accounted for the majority of people who relocated (67 percent). People who had moved for a job were more likely to consider themselves risk takers. Of the people who had moved, 33.79 percent rated themselves above a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being definitely a risk taker. Only 12.9 percent of people who had not moved rated themselves over a 3. The majority of respondents first ventured out of their comfort zones before age 19, going moderately to completely out of their comfort zones. The move made them feel nervous, but they were willing to try new things in the future. Most people (93 percent) who have relocated for a job reported that they have gone out of their comfort zones in some way, while only 65 percent of people who have never moved indicated that they’ve ventured from their comfort zones. The survey showed a slight correlation between relocation and salary. Of people who have never moved for a job, 22 percent reported making more than $50,000, compared to 35 percent of people who have relocated. Advice The advice given by the participants is invaluable to people worried about taking a job outside of their comfort zones. Here are some questions and responses that were representative of the responses. “Moving out of your comfort zone can create discomfort. If you stayed in your new location despite the discomfort, how did you manage?” Most of the answers fell into three categories: stay busy and make friends, be patient, and stay positive. “I created a new life with a wonderful job, great friends, [in an] exciting place to live. Married a fellow archivist and had a great career.” “I exercised at least 5 to 6 days a week. I made sure that I always had something to look forward to: a trip, event, etc.” “I kept telling myself that change would eventually come. I just had to be patient.” “I am still in a state of discomfort—this has not been an easy change. But I keep my eyes on the big picture; I focus on my job with the knowledge that, career-wise, it is a oncein- a-lifetime opportunity and that I am in a really great institution.” “Reflecting on moving out of your comfort zone, do you feel that you gained anything valuable from the move (either professionally or personally)?” “Personally, I gained so much more confidence and a sense of life outside what I had always known. I’ve now moved twice (once for grad school, once for a job), and I feel so much more willing to move again. Professionally I now have contacts in multiple states and have built professional relationships around the country.” “I feel like I’ve gained so much professionally [by] joining a different group of professionals and expanding my skill set. Personally, I feel like a stronger, more experienced person. I trust myself more and know I can rely on myself. I’m proud of making such a large change and don’t regret it, no matter how difficult it is.” “Professionally I have gained incredible opportunities to study and work with experts in various fields. Personally, I have gained a sense of resiliency—I know that I can overcome almost any obstacle with a little help.” “What was the easiest aspect of moving?” The responses included packing and traveling, having a fresh start, and the job itself. “Packing! I am an archivist and I love creating arrangements and packing things into boxes! My spreadsheet of box content was amazing!” “The ‘new beginnings’ part of moving is my favorite part. I love the freedom to make new friends, visit new restaurants, and go see new sites.” “Excited about a new job with significantly greater responsibility.” “What was the most challenging aspect of moving?” The most repeated answers included logistics, culture shock, and loneliness. “The most challenging aspect of moving was the actual logistical planning. My employer paid for my relocation, but I still had to house hunt, work with movers, sort out utilities, unpack my life into a new apartment, learn my way around a new place, etc. All of this while I was wrapping up my old full-time job and beginning a new one.” “Adjusting to cultural shifts in morals, attitudes, and communication. It gets more difficult the older you get to keep adjusting, even as you have more insight into what might be the root causes of problems.” “Establishing a life outside of work. It is hard to get to know new people, find fulfilling activities, find favorite places. The old place felt so much better for a while.” Finally, we asked, “What advice would you give to someone who is considering relocating for a job?” The advice given the most included telling people to be social, do your research, and overwhelmingly— just do it! “Get online and find groups and activities in the new area that would interest you. Trying to insert yourself into an already-established group is difficult, but many groups are fluid and people are generally more inviting than you might assume.” “Make sure the position is worth it. Don’t invest a lot of money and time moving for a position that will not challenge you, move your career forward, or is the type of position you are truly interested in.” “Take the risk. You’ll learn something new about your job and about yourself. Your decision isn’t a lifetime commitment. Be willing to consider moving on after a period if the fit isn’t right.” * * * Most people found moving out of their comfort zones provided benefits that outweighed the temporary discomfort. Based on the responses, the top three factors for successfully relocating for a job included making new friends, enjoying your work, and getting involved with an organization or community activity. Just do it!
Published by Society of American Archivists. View All Articles.