The 5 Big Benefits of a Bridge Job
So you’re stuck in a rut and you’re ready for a career change, but how exactly do you go from working in the nonprofit sector to the courts system? Or from retail to digital marketing? Or from the education sector to coding in the tech sector? Or just get the hell out of your toxic workplace and find something new?
I know all these career changes are more than possible, as I’ve worked with thousands of women who’ve made enormous leaps from seemingly disparate fields. But what’s the common strategy that I’ve seen almost every career-shifter rely on? Finding a bridge job.
A bridge job is any job you get that provides you the time and mental space (and not to mention a paycheck) to navigate your way to the actual career path you want. A bridge job is not a “career move,” in that it’s probably not similar to the dream job you’re ultimately going for, but it’s something you can do with minimal effort that provides you enough time and money to get by while you actually get focused on your career transition.
Because a bridge job isn’t a “step forward” in your desired career path, you might get some shade from people who think you’re straying from success, or look “stuck” from their perspective. Maybe it’s babysitting, teaching tennis, dog walking, waiting tables, or just staying in the field you’re in as a part-time consultant while you find your way to a different profession altogether.
While it might look like a step backwards to some, a bridge job gets you out of a toxic workplace and provides you with much-needed time and mental energy – and hopefully, some income to tide you over – to focus on retooling, gaining more marketable skills, or otherwise positioning yourself for your next career move.
Here are just some of the benefits of a bridge job:
You’ll regain your confidence
Bridge jobs are by definition easy for you to do. For some, that might mean teaching dance lessons. For others that might mean political consulting. Either way, it’s a job you can give 70% to and not feel bad about it, because it comes easy to you.
You’ll have more time (if not money) to figure out your next move
While you might make a temporary financial sacrifice, a bridge job will afford you way more time than you could possibly have by staying put. Your current job is demanding and stressful, but it’s not helping position you for the next career move you want to make. A bridge job allows you to take back control of your time and prioritize the skill development that will take you where you want to go next. That might mean taking coding lessons, building your business’s brand, learning a new language, or taking some courses. Re-tooling takes time, and sometimes a bridge job is the only kind of job you can balance on top of the time-consuming skill-building required of your career transition.
You’ll have a fire lit under you to find the next best thing
Quitting before you’ve got your next “real” job lined up isn’t without risk, of course, but it also can be one hell of a motivator. If you stepped away from a career path for a bridge job that affords you more time, you’re going to fill that time you hustling to find your next best career opportunity. You’ll be networking and having one-on-one meetings like a boss, and you’ll fill your days with your job search.
You’ll stare fear of failure in the face
There’s nothing quite like surviving the unknown to regain the courage to take risks. I know this is very privileged career advice for a class of workers who have confidence in their ability to land at least some job after walking away from a career path that’s no longer tenable, but I want to encourage you to be bold. Know your value and give yourself the time to find an employer who values you, too. A bridge job allows you to throw yourself into the deep end (with a little life preserver). How else will you know you can swim?
You won’t have zero income
Even if a bridge job requires you to tighten the belt temporarily, we’re not talking about going down to zero income. So while teaching SAT prep might not move you closer to your dream job as a musician, at least it pays the bills, keeps a roof over your head, and affords you the time to give your passion a real shot.
A bridge job is especially appropriate for those on the brink of burnout, in a toxic work environment that’s doing more damage (physically, mentally) than good (financially). You can walk away. Walking away can be just the rebellious act you need to regain your sense of agency of your life.
We women especially must remember: you’re not here to make mom or dad or that old high school teacher proud of you anymore. You’re here to make sure you’re proud of you and the choices you make. For anyone considering a big career leap, a bridge job can be just the path forward to make that bold vision possible.