Over 3 Million People Have Seen This Viral Post Of Someone Accepting A "Bridge Job," And It's Proving How Wildly Burnt Out We All Are

It goes without saying that the nature of work has changed pretty drastically in the past few years. Despite reports of a lowering unemployment rate and a "strong labor market," people are struggling more than ever to secure a job. However, the silver lining in all of this (that I'm choosing to see, at least) is increased transparency about work, with everything from salaries to burnout.

Office workspace with individuals at desks and partitions, signifying a professional environment
Helen King / Getty Images

I've been going through a career journey myself over the last couple of years (my resume makes zero sense at first glance, but more on that later), so when I came across Karli Williamson's now-viral LinkedIn post, I immediately felt a sense of comfort. Over three million people have now seen Karli's career update, which starts with her writing, "I GOT A JOB!!!…as a part-time barista at my neighborhood coffee shop."

LinkedIn post by Karli Williamson celebrating getting a barista job, discussing job necessity and security

Karli goes on to briefly explain the reasoning behind this job update. "I'm taking this job because I'm not desperate now, and I don't want to be later," she writes. "Working a service industry job isn't beneath me. I am not so fragile and entitled that I think I've above bagging croissants and steaming milk."

The rest of Karli's post which she states she does not want to desperately job search and that working a service industry job isn't beneath her

Even if you're not much of a LinkedIn scroller, you may have seen Karli's post make its way over to TikTok, where people are praising her transparency and heavily relating to her situation. "I just quit my job...starting as a barista next week," one person commented under @millerrlite's video about the post.

TikTok user announces quitting job, starting as a barista, and remarks on the algorithm's amazement
@millerrlite / Via tiktok.com

Someone else expressed their desire to return to service work after taking time off from corporate.

Person expresses burnout from corporate work, considers returning to service jobs for well-being
@millerrlite / Via tiktok.com

Overall, people had a lot to say about the burnout they're facing at their current jobs.

User expresses a desire to switch to bartending due to burnout from corporate work
@millerrlite / Via tiktok.com
User expresses missing work at an ice cream parlor, contrasts it humorously with current office work
@millerrlite / Via tiktok.com

Karli told BuzzFeed that she ultimately took a barista job after dealing with burnout for the past year and a half and noticing that she was being less selective with the roles she applied to. With eight years of barista experience under her belt from her high school and college days, she decided to go back to it. "I saw my savings going down, and this just kind of gives me some wiggle room to continue to stay true to myself and stay true to who I am," she told us.

Karli standing in a doorway smiling, dressed in casual attire
Annalice Townsend / Via Instagram: @cozycreativepdx

The decision to post her job update on LinkedIn came out of a desire to be more authentic on the platform, but she could have never guessed it would get the response it did. "I just kind of took a chance," she admitted. "I feel like I've noticed a lot of people posting some really intense horror stories...and I just wanted to offer an alternative. There's no shame in taking a job to pay your bills. I'm not so entitled or so self-inflated that I couldn't do this."

So far, the response to Karli's post has been largely positive, and she's received plenty of DMs from people who can relate to her experience.

Despite her decadelong pause from being a barista, the age gap with her coworkers (she's 35, "a good 10 years older" than many of the people she works with), and the end-of-shift rushes, Karli finds joy in the work. "Compared to a lot of the stuff I've had to do, and the stress of handling strategy and dealing with people and stakeholders and all this stuff, [being a barista] is so much fun," she told us.

Karli smiling outdoors, wearing glasses and a sleeveless top
Annalice Townsend / Via Instagram: @cozycreativepdx

Like Karli, I also worked as a barista after burning out from my previous jobs and not having the slightest idea what I wanted to do with my life. That mess of a resume I mentioned earlier includes an Environmental Studies degree, several random internships, and a years-long career in consumer insights. Safe to say, I was a bit lost and was happy to serve coffee instead of staring at another Excel spreadsheet.

The author serving pastries at a coffee shop counter with a phone and menu board visible

It turns out there's a name for the type of job Karli and I decided to take: it's called a "bridge job." According to Hanna Goefft, who makes content all around important career topics as @hannagetshired, "A bridge job is a transitional or temporary role that helps someone bridge the gap between their current situation and their desired career goal or long-term employment."

Woman gesturing with subtitle about a term for this, in a casual work-from-home setting
Woman gesturing with subtitle about a term for this, in a casual work-from-home setting
Woman in casual attire talking to camera, text overlay says
Woman in casual attire talking to camera, text overlay says

Hanna Goefft / Via tiktok.com

Hanna told BuzzFeed she'd recommend a bridge job to anyone "struggling to balance their long-term goals with their short-term needs." Some common scenarios she lists include pivoting to a new industry, leaving a toxic work environment, relocating to a new city, or maybe even transitioning into retirement.

Hanna was one of the three million people who came across Karli's post and took to TikTok to chat about the benefits of bridge jobs. "There are obvious benefits to taking a bridge job," she says in her video, "like earning more money, avoiding that point of desperation where you just need something to pay the bills...It also might give you room to continue building your skills." Hanna also told us that bridge jobs can help you recover from burnout, reorient your career goals, or provide clarity of mind and time to pursue your next career.

Woman discussing the benefits of a bridge job in a well-lit room. Text overlay at the bottom
@hannagetshired / Via tiktok.com

Unfortunately, there are still many stigmas surrounding bridge jobs and service work in general. Karli told us the biggest hurdle she had to overcome was the fear of other people's perceptions of her barista job. "It can be hard to not take society's opinion of me doing this and not internalize that. I think that is the one mental struggle of it," she said, adding that the people in her life have supported her decision overall, even if some expressed concern at first.

Just to be clear, service work is real work. It's intense and exhausting and can take a physical and mental toll. Karli's partner also works in the service industry, which gave her the "nudge" to pursue this path. "I really respect and love this person, and I don't think any less of him for doing the job that he does. So why can't I do it, too?"

Along with the stigma, Hanna says that a common myth about these jobs is that they'll "ruin your resume." "You can mitigate this by effectively communicating the story behind your bridge job and the value gained from the experience," she clarifies, reiterating that careers aren't linear; it's okay if your path looks a little different.

Hanna speaking to the camera, text reads: a lot of people are afraid of how this is going to look on their resume

Ultimately, Karli has mixed feelings about her story going viral. On one hand, it was great to see the positive response, but on the other, she finds it a little bizarre. "The fact that the response was that huge, that someone got a part-time barista job and was willing to admit it, it's kind of gross," she said. "I do feel like there's so much support, and that's a big positive. I also feel like it kind of showed me how we really feel about people taking a service industry job."

Karli in glasses and green top lounging on a sofa, smiling at the camera
Annalice Townsend / Via Instagram: @cozycreativepdx

As for her next steps, Karli doesn't foresee herself staying in the service industry forever. However, her experience has made her realize she wants to bring "inclusivity and camaraderie" into whatever she does next.

You can follow Karli on LinkedIn for future updates, and you can find Hanna on TikTok and Instagram for more career advice.

If you've ever taken a bridge job, tell us about it below! You can also fill out this form if you prefer to share your experience anonymously.