Overqualified and “underachieving”

I received a call today from a person who encouraged me to apply for a job within her organization.

She noted they had a strong internal candidate who ultimately interviewed for and received the position. I wasn’t invited in for an interview. Why? Because I am overqualified.

It’s funny to me that after over five years in management, including both program development and fundraising, that I am deemed overqualified for a position. I am taken back to the first time my father was unemployed and he received the same feedback. I was appalled when my father said that people wouldn’t interview him because he had too much experience and too many skills. And yet, it’s happening to me now.

With the experience I have, I should be looking for Director of Development, Associate Executive Director or equivalent positions. However, when I look at those positions I am wholly unsatisfied. Yet I keep thinking, isn’t this what I’ve been working for? I’ve been climbing the achievement ladder since I first had the chance to get a full-time job in a nonprofit. I’ve consistently pushed myself and my supervisors for increasingly more responsibility (and the financial benefits that accompany that responsibility). Now, I find myself considering a life that includes an income that’s roughly 50% of the salary I was making six months ago. An income that’s lower that the first salary I took coming out of grad school.

I’m I crazy?

I don’t think so.

I don’t think so because I’m embarking on a completely different journey. We’ll see if it’s the journey that I truly need and want to be on once I begin it. I’m going to begin apprenticing at a bakery-under 20 hours a week-beginning this Saturday. I have to find a full-time job to complement that work, so I can retain adequate healthcare.

So, for the duration of my remaining time on unemployment, my search switches to finding a job that will allow me to change careers: a job that’s going to give me benefits and some flexibility. However, if that’s not possible, I’ll be looking for a job that brings an income and will apply for state-supported healthcare.

I’m nervous about this change. I’m nervous about not mindlessly climbing the ladder of achievement. I’m nervous about not looking for another job in executive management because I can or because I should. I’m nervous about “underachieving”. I’m nervous about making a change. I’m nervous about learning a new skill. I’m nervous about following my passions. And yet, I’m so excited about starting out anew.


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