Posts Tagged ‘job hunting’

I have a job!

January 8, 2012

I have a job!

Three years after leaving newspapers, I’m starting a new job on January 17th. I haven’t exactly been lounging around eating bonbons all this time — I’ve drafted one novel, reworked another, revised the one I drafted, wrote queries and collected rejections on both of them, and worked as a freelance writer for a variety of clients, most recently the Technion.

(Oh, and there was an adult Bat Mitzvah in there, wasn’t there?)

But being on staff somewhere is different. This feels like grasping the wood of a dock after treading water for a long time. It feels like feet on solid ground after drifting weightless in space.

There are many wonderful things about freelancing. I’ve appreciated the ability to set my own schedule, accommodate family needs and put time into fiction. But I also love many things about a traditional job — being part of an organization, connecting with co-workers on a daily basis, having a dependable paycheck.

Now I may have the best of both worlds. This is a halftime job, at least for the near future, so I will still have time to work on my novel, maintain some freelance clients, and be available to Daughter during her last semester before college.(In theory! In reality, I know it will be a challenge to make time for the novel.)

By now, you’re probably asking, So what’s the job?  (Trumpets, please.)

I’ll be communications director for Golden Gate Audubon Society, the independent local chapter of the national conservation organization. GGAS has an incredible grassroots volunteer base who lead dozens of free bird-watching walks each month throughout San Francisco and the East Bay. It provides nature education for inner-city kids, and political advocacy on behalf of birds and other native species. One of GGAS’ recent achievements was a San Francisco ordinance requiring that new buildings be “bird-safe” — i.e., take steps such as using frosted or textured glass to prevent migrating birds from flying into large glass-walled skyscrapers.

So you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about birds in this blog in the future.

Maybe it morphs into Midlife Bird Mitzvah?

No more adorable kitty photos? / Photo by Ilana DeBare

More seriously, this feels like the end of a phase of being in the semi-wilderness. Perhaps transition is always a wilderness — like the ancient Jews in Sinai, when you are no longer what you used to be, but not yet what you are going to become.

I was a newspaper reporter when I entered the wilderness. I hoped to be a published novelist when I came out the other side. But would I succeed? And in between… what was I? where was I?

One of the reasons I undertook the adult Bat Mitzvah process two and a half years ago was to help tame that wilderness. I hoped that studying to become a Bat Mitzvah would serve as a small anchor — providing structure, connections, and achievable goals — when everything else in my life felt amorphous and uncertain.

It did fill that role. But even so, I’ve felt a little unmoored.

It’s nice to touch a dock.

My book of job(s)

October 19, 2010

It’s absurd to compare a midlife career crossroads with the sufferings of the Bible’s most tormented man. So I won’t. 

But when have I ever been able to resist a bad pun? 

Though far from tormented, I’m feeling a decent amount of confusion around my next job – in particular, around what I would like it to be. 

My problem isn’t the recession, or being turned down for job after job. I’m not even at that point yet. My problem is that I don’t really know what I’m looking for. 

Not newspapers, but what?

I do know that I’m done with newspapers. And I don’t have the stomach for the constant marketing and insecurity that are part of being a freelance writer. But beyond that… I’m not sure. 

  • I’m not sure, at this point in my life, whether to approach job-hunting with a Long-Term Career Goal. Do I want to work my way up to the top of xxx to do yyy?  Or should I look for something that is simply fun and interesting for a while? And then find something that is also fun and interesting but totally different?  
  • I’m not sure whether to work for a business or a non-profit. I’ve always needed to feel that I’m helping make the world a little better – tikkun olam and all that. But after decades with newspapers and non-profits, I’m attracted to the idea of working for an organization that doesn’t make you buy your own pencils. And living on the edge of Silicon Valley all these years, I wonder if there is a bright, shiny cutting-edge world there that I should experience.  
  • I’m not sure what I want to do all day. I like writing. I like working with people. My ideal job would include some of each. But what does that translate into as a job title or category? There’s the broad function of “communications” within organizations. But what does that boil down to on a daily basis? And would I like it?  
  • I don’t have my heart set on any particular industry. The career-mentor folks I’ve spoken with have said, “Sure, I can give you some leads. But first decide what industry you want to focus on.” Okay, I do have an interest in renewable energy and green technologies. But beyond that – honestly, it’s more important for me to be around smart folks and do interesting, useful stuff than to be in any particular industry. 

Yikes! Too many open questions. And this is before I even approach the nattering voices of self-doubt (“English major with no skills!”) or the practical questions of how to retool my resume, present my strengths etc.

The Bible’s Job is given advice by three friends when he can’t understand why he is being hammered with so much misery. What I’m trying to do right now is talk with former reporters and other acquaintances in different kinds of jobs to see what their work life is like – informational interviews. 

Amazingly, this is the first time since graduating from college that I’ve faced such a wide-open, anything-goes career crossroads. 

For about 25 years, I was pretty well ensconced in journalism, and opportunities presented themselves. Now I’m not ensconced in anything… and I have to make my own opportunities. 

After figuring out where I want to make them.