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Unlike many of my friends, I was fortunate to have a job waiting for me before graduation. The job market is rough, and legal jobs are incredibly competitive right now. So having a job offer made me feel secure and happy during my last semester of law school.

Many people dismissed my job because it is located in a rural area. I grew up in a small town, and understand the dynamics and culture of small-town life. Sure, I’m not learning a lot about mergers and acquisitions, but I feel good knowing I’m dealing with real problems that affect real people. I get satisfaction knowing that I’m making a big difference in someone’s life.

But, unfortunately, I cannot support myself solely on personal gratification. It wasn’t until after I had already accepted the position that I learned the salary. Or, rather, hourly wage until I recieve my law license, and subsequent salary after licensure. The job offers no health benefits or retirement package. The travel costs of commuting between different county courts alone is 10% of my paycheck.

Now, you may ask why I’m just barely considering all of these factors three months into this job. The truth is that I did consider all of this, but naively thought everything would just ‘work itself out.’ My student loan payments would magically go down, my salary may miraculously increase. I wanted everything to work out because I really, really love the work I’m doing. I feel great in my office envirorment, and truly enjoy the company of my coworkers.

Yet when I receive my paycheck every two weeks, my warm, fuzzy feeling disappears and depression sets in. This pay is not sustainable for paying off my debt and subsidizing the additional living expenses I incurred moving to a rural area. My relationship is suffering ( more to discuss in an upcoming post), and my family and friends are noticing a big difference in my attitude.

So what’s keeping me here? GUILT. I feel guilty walking out on good people and work that needs to be done. I wish someone could just make the decision for me, but that obviously won’t be happening any time soon. So I’ll continue to weigh out the pros and cons and hope I can make the right decision.

Has anyone reluctantly left a job for more money and security? Did you feel guilty about it??

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