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After the Bar

Career Resources

New Career. New City. New Challenges.

Courtney Littlejohn

New Career. New City. New Challenges.
Peathegee Inc via GettyImages

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Is now the time to take this opportunity?” I was faced with this question about a year ago when I was offered a new position with a new agency in a new city. I had a lot to consider.

As with most federal law enforcement positions, the hiring process is tedious and long. I initially applied for the job in the spring of 2017 and did not receive an offer until 2019. As you can imagine, my life had changed in those two years. I had cultivated a social network and community that I enjoyed. I was starting the home buying process, and I had found a church home. I was settled. However, I wasn’t happy in my career. 

When I received the initial job offer for my new position, the reasons I started looking to make a career move two years before were still pretty much the same:

  • undesirable career path
  • lack of challenge
  • underutilization of my skill sets and strengths
  • agency culture that wasn’t conducive to family life

Ultimately, I decided to take the job for two main reasons. The first relates to something my mom told me when I initially moved to DC from South Carolina after law school. “You can always come home.” I realized I could always go home if an opportunity did not work out. However, there may not always be opportunities available, and I may not always be in a position to take them. While I was reluctant to leave “home,” I knew that the new opportunity was too good to pass up. Plus, as I was single with no children, I had the flexibility to uproot my life completely, and that wouldn’t always be the case in the future.

The other reason I decided to make this career move is that it served my long-term career objectives. The new position would allow me to use my education and experiences in a way that the prior position did not. I would have the anonymity that would allow me to grow, the job would challenge me, and I could combine my legal education and law enforcement experience. It was a win-win-win.

Moving to a new city had its challenges, but here are a few tips that helped me transition:

  • Don’t try too hard to hold on to all aspects of your life in the old place. This new city is home now.
  • Embrace the new city. Try to find the gems that make that city unique.
  • Network, network, network! It never hurts to make new contacts.
  • Schedule your visits home! It’ll give you something to look forward to when you get homesick.
  • If you like something, chances are someone else does too. There are tons of social groups and apps centered on connecting people who enjoy the same hobbies. Use these as a vehicle to find new friends or a social circle.

Change is a part of life—especially in your career. Ultimately, we all want to be happy with the work we do. When opportunities present themselves, weigh your options, and don’t be afraid to take a risk. Just make sure it’s a calculated risk.