In the tech world, we tend to base our decisions on clear-cut rationales—we weighs pros and cons, we make lists, and we ultimately rest on a logic-based choice. Especially for women in this male-dominated field, it’s tempting for us to demonstrate that we rely on reasoning, not emotion, to make decisions. Consequently, we often bring the prudent processes we use at work into our personal decision-making, but sometimes life requires listening to our instincts and throwing prudent out the window.
Me, I throw prudent out the window all the time. For a technical, left-brained person, I do a lot of leaping headfirst into things. And for all of us who sometimes choose heart over mind, it’s not always easy to know whether we’ve made the correct choice, especially when it comes to things like choosing the right job. Sometimes, though, life hands us validation for a leap-before-you-look attitude.
I’ve had a bit of my own validation with two companies I interviewed at and turned down. Both wound up in the news under ignominious circumstances, making my choices seem far-sighted rather than arbitrary. I didn’t much like the small start-up Spock.com and told the recruiter to forget it (maybe they were going to reject me anyway, I don’t know, but no way I was going to work there). Couldn’t really explain my reasons, just… meh. When I saw, less than two weeks after my interview, that the folks at Spock.com had made a sexist, offensive spectacle of themselves at a Web 2.0 conference, I breathed a sigh of relief. I could have been working with those guys.
More recently, an SF Weekly article reamed Zynga, creators of Farmville and other Facebook addictions, as cheats and thieves. Whether the allegations are true or not, morale has got to be in the toilet these days. And I am so, so glad I told them no, even though I didn’t have a clear, analytical reason for doing so.
Luckily, there’s a complementary experience to be had as well. You can accept a job, and leap into it enthusiastically, without a logical decision-making process backing you up. I’m one week into such an experience, and it’s going fantastically well so far. Sure, it’s only been a week, but I’m confident this job will work out great—my instincts are telling me.
For all of us with similar experiences, it can be hard to truly embrace these decisions. “The place doesn’t feel right” is a tough thing to say to a recruiter or a partner or a friend. So is “this place is perfect for me!” But sometimes it’s the only reason you need. Even if you don’t know exactly why a place isn’t a good fit, even if you can’t quite explain to a recruiter why you love a company, you know it in your heart, and sometimes that’s enough.