I've gotten my application into another airline, we'll see how this goes. It's a place I would be THRILLED to work at. I'm very impressed by their management style and their appreciation of their employees. I'd be taking a very considerable pay cut to go there, but I think it's worth it.
It comes down to QOL: Quality of Life.
I wish I could express to people still in flight school the important of choosing a job that will give you good QOL. Since my experience is with Embry-Riddle, this is who I'll use as an example.
When I was at ERAU, the emphasis at the school was on "flying big iron." Get out there, fly the jet. There are a huge number of aviation jobs out there. Flight instructing, banner towing, fire watch, charter flying in turbo-props, regional jet jockeying, et cetera. But it seemed that, upon leaving ERAU, "Thou must get a jet job."
There's nothing wrong with this. But, what I try to emphasize to people, is that you are NOT a failure if your first job out of flight instructing is flying propeller-driven aircraft. You are not crazy if this was your goal in the first place.
We fly because we LOVE TO FLY. No, I don't want to drive a 172 the rest of my life. I want to fly new and exciting airplane. Heck, I ADORE the A320 series. I love that jet. But I will be overjoyed to go fly a Cessna 402!! It's a great airplane. No, it's not pressurized, so I would not be cruising at FL390. But there's something about flying at 1,000 feet AGL at 180 kts over Cape Cod with the humpback whales beneath that excites me. It's romantic.
What you have to find out for yourself is what will bring you quality of life. I know a lot of people who love flying for a regional. They spend their days off jumpseating all over the world, and it works for them. I couldn't be happier that they've all found a place for themselves where they love their flying.
Other people might love the corporate life. Or the charter/135 life. Or maybe, like our much-loved "lifer" CFIs at ERAU, bringing the love of flying to their students is what makes them happiest. Maybe your calling is flying cancelled checks and body parts in the middle of the night. What I'm saying is, "do what you love." Do what is going to keep your love of flying burning.
QOL isn't about money. Flying, for those that truly love it, is never about the money. QOL, to me, is about the airplane, the destinations, the duty schedule. Feeling appreciated by your passengers (or boxes if you're a freight dawg!) or your management and flying with good people.
The airlines aren't the "end all be all." Find your niche. Find what floats your boat (or gives you lift, rather). Don't let yourself become bitter - if you find yourself losing your passion for flight, it's time to find a new job.
Stay true to your reason for flying, and make your own QOL!!