Jullien Gordon on How to Use Bridge Jobs to Develop a More Rewarding Career

In Chapter 10 of 14 of his 2010 Capture Your Flag interview, motivation teacher, Stanford MBA and entrepreneur Jullien Gordon shares why bridge jobs - short term 40-hour per week jobs that last 12-18 months or allow you to save six months savings - facilitate a better planned, and ultimately rewarding, career. Gordon also highlights how a bridge job increasing short term contribution and engagement, given the deadline is known. Gordon continues by sharing how today's workforce no longer relies on one career employer and that given the high number of jobs individuals will have, the workforce must get embrace change.


Erik Michielsen: What are bridge jobs and how have you used these in developing your own career?

Jullien Gordon: Bridges jobs is a concept that I created that it’s basically a job that helps you get to point A to point B and some of the principles is that it’s eighteen months or shorter or six months of savings – savings being covering your coast of living for six months.  So, coming out of business school I wanted to be an entrepreneur but the company that I was creating at the time wasn’t ready to support me.  So, I took a bridge job at a non-profit organization.  Another key principle of bridge jobs is that it only works you forty hours a week so that you have the other forty to sixty hours of your week to create what you want to create. 

Because a lot of people say, ‘Oh yeah, I want to go work and then I want to become an entrepreneur.” But they’re working sixty to eighty hours a week and they’re too tired to contribute or invest time in real good energy into what they ultimately want to do.  So, I took a bridge job.  I was at an organization that I love called Management Leadership for Tomorrow, working there for seventeen months, which is where I met my six month savings goal in January 2009, in the middle of the financial crisis.  I just left and stepped into my path as the CEO of the Department of Motivated Vehicles.  So a bridge job is so important because another beautiful thing about bridge job is when you set a time period, in terms on when you’re going to leave, rather than saying, ‘Oh, I’ll leave when the time is right.”  When you set a time you actually start maximizing that opportunity because you see that end of the tunnel.  So, you start developing the relationships with customers, future customers or with people within the organization, you’re more intentional about developing your personal, intellectual, social, financial capital because now you’re trying to get the most of that opportunity in this short, condensed amount of time. It’s Parkinsen’s Law, work will expand to fill space but if you condense the space you realize you can get equally as much work done.

I really encourage people who are considering changing their careers or stepping into entrepreneurship to really look at their current opportunity as a bridge job.  Set a time stamp on it or a savings goal and then just commit to making that transition. In the video “Shift Happens” which is a video online about globalization, it says that by the age of thirty-eight our generation is going to have 10-14 careers.  So, this whole notion of being with one company for your entire life no longer exists, just get that out of your mind unless you’re creating the company.  Even then, Steve Jobs went from Apple to Pixar and back to Apple so this whole notion with one job for the rest of your life doesn’t exist and we have to get comfortable with change.