03:32 PM

Julie Malina: Money Doesn't Matter

Burned out, Malina thought she'd give IT another try, but she's had enough ... though this insurance company receptionist still can't resist helping out around the office when tech support is needed.

Julie Malina, 32, is a somewhat reluctant IT escapee. As a project manager, she loved the work and the people at Fort Point Partners. But with the job came intense stress. So, when she was laid off in March, she decided to take some time off and explore. Malina traveled to Vietnam. She trained for and completed an endurance walk to raise money for breast-cancer concerns. By August, she was ready to complete her informal sabbatical and find another project-manager job, but this time with her eyes wide open.

Or so she thought.

Reasoning that the right company would have a less-stressful IT environment, she accepted a project-manager role at Williams-Sonoma for the relaunch of its site. "I thought Williams-Sonoma would be a nurturing environment, but it wasn't any different," she says. She worked every weekend and was on call after hours. "I could be at dinner with friends; I could get calls at midnight," she recalls. All day, she'd work with businesspeople to figure out what needed work on the site. At night, she'd be working with the tech staff to do the fixes.

So in October, after three months on the job, Malina simply quit. Economy or no, she wanted out. "I was tired of going to sleep at night thinking about work," she says--and then turns philosophical. "By the nature of what it is, working in technology means your lifestyle will be hectic; there will be constant stress. I had very little work/life balance, and realized I just can't do it any more."

Now she's answering the phone and providing administrative services to the VPs at the San Francisco office of Roanoke Trade Services, an insurance company. By her own reckoning, she makes around a third of what she did before. She doesn't eat out a lot or buy new clothes--"but that stuff doesn't matter." And while she says she'll never go back to IT, she's not avoiding technology altogether. When a printer malfunctions or one of the staff is struggling with Windows, she provides desktop support. "It just comes second nature to me."

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