Current Dream Jobs

I’ve written before about how I’ve been working (since I finished grad school in 2011) in a field that’s not related to either of my degrees. I have a Bachelor’s in Professional Writing and a Master’s in Higher Education. I have almost 5 years of work experience in project management and business analysis in software development. I’ve never had a job that I’ve enjoyed, or felt that my work allowed me to make a positive difference.

Now that I’m job-hunting in Chicago, I’ve been thinking about how it’s an opportunity to completely start over, professionally speaking.

But here’s the thing: if I could do anything, I honestly don’t know what I would do.

I wanted to be an architect for my entire life. I still have an interest in that, but I don’t have the desire to go back to school for the training that’s required. I also don’t know for sure that it would remain my dream once it was my reality.

Interior design is something I’ve been interested in for almost as long as architecture, and while I think it would make me endlessly happy, I’m not sure I’d have the drive and the eye to be really great at it.

I’ve been thinking for the past year or so about getting into college recruiting for a large company. It’s a blend of the work I’ve done and my Master’s degree, but I don’t have the personality for sales, or the passion required to spend most days giving presentations to college students. I have a friend who works in Employer Relations for a university, and she has a dream job. She gets to visit employers to represent her department and to create job and internship opportunities for her students. I think I would absolutely love that.

From there, I started thinking about general recruiting, which I think I would really enjoy AND be good at. I’ve worked with enough software developers, project managers, and stakeholders to understand what’s really required to do a job well, and I’m a master internet stalker. I think I could find the right candidates for a job, again, I’m just not a huge fan of the “sales” portion that’s required.

I would love to work with animals or do something related to animal welfare. I’d love to have a position with an SPCA or other animal rescue. Not as a vet tech, but potentially in fundraising, outreach, or operations. Non-profit work means a pay cut, so that’s something to consider. I would love to be able to accomplish this dream at some point in my life. Maybe once I’ve retired from an illustrious and profitable career in something else. (Joking.)

Lastly, there’s writing and editing. I’ve become interested lately in doing some freelance projects, but I don’t have a portfolio, and none of my professional experience has allowed me opportunities to write anything marketable. I need to build up a portfolio, whether it be technical writing or much more relatable lifestyle pieces. Within a year, I’d like to have something I’ve written published by an online source.

This list covers the areas I’ve either always wanted to work in, or the ones I’ve been giving serious consideration to lately. In moving to a new city, I’m trying to strike the right chord when applying to jobs. I want to find something I’ll like, but I also want my application to be considered. I don’t enjoy the work I’ve been doing, but it’s the only work I’m qualified for. Do I need to take a major pay cut and apply for entry-level jobs in a field I might be more passionate about? Do I apply for positions I’m not qualified for and hope that my non-related experience is enough to get me considered? It’s a tough balancing act, and I don’t think there are right answers.

2016

It’s the first weekend of a new year, and I’ve got that chronic nostalgic feeling, mixed with the hopefulness that things can and will change.

I only wrote two blog posts in 2015. A lot happened in the past year, I suppose, because life happens, but in a way, many things are still the same. I still struggle with the same things I’ve written about here time and time again (namely, my job and a lack of any real sense of life purpose), but I won’t go into too much detail about all that right now.

I’ve been struggling to come up with new year’s resolutions. Part of me knows that change is an ongoing process that must be continually worked on, and so I hesitate to write down goals and then forget about them until January of next year. The other part is hopeful and wants to share something publicly, check back in often, report on progress, and be held accountable.

Because it’s been floating around in my head for a few days (and because I’ve been attuned to these things for years), here’s a brain dump of my goals. Not necessarily for 2016, but things to focus on because they’re important to me.

  1. Figure out what I want to do next. I read (or heard, or talked to someone — I can’t remember now) that you shouldn’t think about jobs in terms of “what do I want to do with my life?” but rather, “what do I want to do next?” So that’s what I want to do this year. Sub-goal: Don’t accept a new job unless it’s something different than what I do now, and something that I’m reasonably sure that I’ll enjoy.
  2. Leave Charlottesville. This one is self-explanatory. I spent the better part of 2015 making preparations and telling all the people I’m close with that I was finally going to leave my home town. I spent months thinking about a cross-country road trip, planning destinations, purging my belongings, and doing targeted job searches, but then put it on hold. For one particular reason, I’m still here. Maybe I’ll write more about that in the future.
  3. Keep running. I slacked off in a major way for the second part of 2015. Last spring, I PRed my 5k and 10k times during the Ukrop’s 10k and I’d like to do it again. I might even want to run my second half marathon this year.
  4. Eat healthier, respect my body. Pretty straightforward. My sister does a variant of the Paleo diet and I’ve seen how it’s transformed her body. Lean, muscular limbs have always been my goal.
  5. “Run my own race.” I have a history of comparing myself (my choices, my body, my finances, my life experiences, my clothing, etc.) to others, and it’s not healthy and it’s not productive. I just want to remember to run my own race — to do the things that are special or meaningful to me, on my own schedule. Make time for the things that make me happy, without regard to the things other people are doing. I have one life, and it is unique to me.
  6. Cook at home. This goal is simple, but evasive. Mostly because I hate washing dishes.
  7. Write. I love writing and reflecting. Writing forces me to think about things that I otherwise wouldn’t, and publishing my thoughts anonymously on the internet (hopefully) won’t hurt anybody.

So there we have it. A list of things to aspire to, now and in the future. I have some ideas for things I’d like to start blogging about, so I hope to be back here more than twice this year. See you soon, internet!

 

 

sub-9:00 mile!

I didn’t feel like running today–after going to the driving range with P, my dad, and my sister this afternoon in the heat–and then knowing that it was still about 85 degrees outside at 5:15. But I did.

And I cranked out an 8:59 mile!! That’s the fastest standalone mile I’ve run in forever! I’m so proud (and taking this opportunity to bask in it…sorry bout it!). My speedwork must be paying off.

2013-06-23 17.51.53Or maybe it was my sweet new orange tank top paired with my rarely-worn pink shorts. Perhaps something about looking like sherbert made me extra fast?

Really, it’s probably because it was 85 degrees and I just wanted to be done. But it still could be that I’ve been running consistently for weeks now. Maybe it’s that simple, yet effective thing I wrote about before. I felt strong the whole time (minus a little pain in my left foot when I first started out), and was breathing hard-but-not-too-hard throughout. And each lap was faster than the one before. It felt just like it’s supposed to: no pain, just relaxed pushing. It feels good to feel like I’m in shape again.

And to celebrate, I stopped after that 1 mile and came home for a shower. Yuck. I’m already looking forward to fall!

Speaking of fall: I’m sort-of-but-not-really thinking about the High Bridge Half Marathon in Farmville the first weekend of September (I realize that it will still be stiflingly hot then, and I’m trying not to focus on that). I haven’t felt at all like running another half since immediately after crossing the finish line of my first one, but I’m sort of considering it. If I want to do it, though, last week should have been my first week of training. Since the plan I follow calls for a 4mi LR in that first week, I knocked that out last Tuesday with no problem. That left me feeling pretty confident, but the thought of 5mi next week, followed by increasing mileage every week after makes me hesitate. So for the next few weeks I plan to sort of follow my training plan without letting my body know it, and see how it goes. Another half marathon wasn’t in my plans for the future, but maybe now it will be.

Struggling

Day 20 of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge is “Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now.”

BlogEverday

In February, I wrote about a change I was planning to make. I’ve written before about purchasing my first home. I’ve written about my LDR with P. More recently, I wrote about what I’d do at this moment if money were no object.

Basically, what it boils down to is this: I’m at a crossroads. I have been for quite some time. The facts are these:

1) I’m unhappy with the career path I’ve wound up on.

2) I want to buy a house. (Either to live in with a roommate supplementing my mortgage payment, or to rent out completely for a profit while I go somewhere else and use that revenue to supplement my income.)

3) Although we’ve nearly mastered the delicate art of the long-distance relationship, I would much prefer living in the same place as P once more.

4) In February, I resolved not to stay at my job beyond May. I had since forgotten about that resolution, and have recently re-resolved to leave my job by August.

5) I want to pursue a career in interior design or something similar. (I don’t think I’ve ever explicitly stated that before, but if I can’t say it here, where can I say it?)

6) I’ve now got a full year’s salary in savings.

With all those things in mind at all times, it’s been hard to make any real decisions lately. (Hence the aforementioned crossroads, and the long time I’ve been standing in the middle of it.) Oh, and:

7) I recently applied to a Master’s program in English at Longwood, with the thinking that their full-time graduate assistantship + the location (same place as P) + a 2-year break from the workforce might = a chance for a nice change and a resetting of my professional compass. I should find out whether I’ve been accepted in a few weeks.

Again, with all these things churning around in my brain all the time, it’s been pretty hard to make any decisions or to feel any degree of settlement or stability lately. I’ve found some solace in knowing that, one way or another, I’ll be leaving my job to pursue something else by August.

But I’m still having a hard time settling in to any mindset. I want to buy a house. If I decide to stay in Charlottesville, I’ll have to go the roommate route, because I’ll also want to quit my job and take on something part-time (therefore with no benefits…and I turn 26 and have to get off my dad’s insurance next September…), while trying to pursue something to do with interior design on the side. If I decide to leave Charlottesville (either to go back to school, to travel, or to do something else entirely), I’ll rent my whole house out. But then I won’t get to enjoy the benefits of owning and decorating a house!

Then there’s the issue of “I don’t think I want to stay in Charlottesville,” on which I vacillate weekly.

Too many issues, too little time…

(And, for the record, I was leaning one way when I started writing this post. Now I’m leaning entirely in the other.)

(Oh, and: I met with my realtor to view another house during my lunch break today. I hated it!)

Am I crazy?

8 days off

Taking 8 days off running is a bad idea. I just did 2 miles in 21:28, and it wasn’t fun. The last time I had run before today was during the Heart of Virginia 10k, which feels like it was ages ago.

After the race, I was planning to take Sunday off and then resume running last Monday. But then it rained all day Monday through Wednesday of last week, and I developed a pretty bad cold that started as a sore throat on Monday night, which still hasn’t gone away. For anyone who’s following along, yes, that’s 4 colds since the start of 2013. That’s very unusual for me. I actually felt so crappy on Thursday and Friday that I worked from home both days.

So after 8 days off and 6 days of sickness, I decided that today I should probably get back down to it. I ran 2 very, very slow miles on the gravel track behind the middle school that’s behind my high school. But now I’m back in it, and I feel better. They say it takes three weeks to form a habit. Maybe I’ve finally started to form a new running habit, because I was feeling pretty bad without it last week. That’s a good thing.

Tomorrow night, a coworker invited me to a BodyPump class at her gym. I’ve always wanted to try BodyPump, but have been too intimidated to walk in on my own! So I’m excited about that.

Hopefully I’ll get a few more runs in this week, and I’ll settle on a new training schedule and a few races for the summer months. I want to have a goal in mind. I like to be working toward something.

Career Advice

I’m a bit late to the party (as I just discovered her blog last night), but Jenni of Story of My Life has issued a “Blog Every Day in May” challenge.

BlogEverday

 

Since I’m fresh off of the A-to-Z Challenge and I’ve been sort of missing posting every day, I’m going to join in! (Although I already predict that I won’t actually be blogging every day.)

Jenni’s May 8th prompt is “A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.”

Here’s my advice, in framed-fortune-cookie form:

2013-05-08 13.08.18

 

I’ve had this fortune cookie on my desk at both jobs now (at my last job, it was taped to the top of my monitor; now, it’s been upgraded to a frame). I think it’s a great professional reminder that just because you aren’t currently on your dream career path, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be one day.

I actually got the fortune at a team lunch at my previous job, when we had just hired a new department head (who was championed as being the savior we needed to right our quickly-sinking ship). She presented her goals for the department, and a company executive was present and seemed to be on board. My team was fired up, because it was clear that the company was finally making strides to course-correct after what had been a long and crippling mistreatment of my department. The message (“Always remember where you are going and never forget where you’ve been“) was so fitting at the time, because the company seemed to be acknowledging its grave mistake in having ignored what should have been its most critical department for so long. We had so many ideas! We were ready to help turn things around!

That was around June of last year. At the beginning of October, half of my team was laid off, and the other half were assigned out elsewhere across the company. Needless to say, it was a bit of a sham.

BUT! I’ve held on to this fortune, because it serves as a reminder to me that although I hated that job and don’t love the one I’ve since moved on to, every professional experience I’ve had has been a building block. I’ve learned valuable lessons about big companies and their lack of hindsight, employee loyalty, and long-term thinking. I’ve learned (perhaps most importantly) that I must look out for myself, because it’s easy in the corporate world to become just a cog in their machine.

Having this fortune on my desk serves as a daily reminder that I won’t be in this job forever (thank GOODNESS!). Although I don’t know exactly where I’ll end up, I do remember where I’ve been. And each of those experiences has shaped what I’ll do with my future.

I’ve got big plans for myself.

What are your career plans? Any mantras that help get you through?

Zeal, or: If Money Were No Object

John and Sherry announced today that they’ve purchased a new house and will be moving in as soon as they sell their current one. My first reaction upon reading their post was jealousy. My second? Anger. And I’m talking inappropriate levels of jealous anger. (How embarrassing, right?!)

I’ve been reading their blog since my senior year of college (so sometime during the fall of 2009 or the spring of 2010), and I’ve always been envious of the incredible lifestyle they’ve been able to build for their family through their blog. When it comes to DIY/design/home improvement blogs, theirs is the biggest there is. It’s what everyone else in that arena aspires to. I’m no exception. (I know, it sounds crazy. Bear with me.)

Although my blog is seriously lacking in DIY and design (duh, I don’t even own a house), that’s what I initially set out for this site to be. I chose my blog’s name because it would allow me to write about the house I eventually buy, as well as my various adventures in my hometown. I’ve written before about how buying my own house has long been my biggest life goal. Well, my reaction to their post today really brought that to the forefront. As soon as I finished digesting their post, I fired off an email to P. Here’s an excerpt:

YHL announced this morning that they bought a new house and I’m so freaking jealous. Like, so jealous that I’m actually mad. I don’t want to work in a job that I hate in order to save up money to buy a house some day… I want to buy a house NOW and have a job that I love and have people read my awesome blog about how I’m fixing my super-awesome beautiful house. GEEZ!!!

I realize that it’s melodramatic, but behind that, there’s some true logic. I’ve been uttering different versions of “I hate my job” for the last 21 months…and ironically, that’s exactly how long I’ve been in the workforce.

I want a house. I want a job that I love. I want enough money to live comfortably and to allow me to do things like travel and build the life of my dreams. (Spoiler: that really wouldn’t require all that much money. I’m a pretty simple girl.)

So that’s where the titular ‘zeal’ comes in.

zeal

noun

fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor.

I need to turn my raging jealousy into a zealous effort to get where I want to be – personally, professionally, and… blog-ally? Jealous –> Zealous. Make sense?

I realized today that if money were no object, I’d quit my job in a heartbeat and move to P’s town. (We’ve been in a long-distance relationship since November, and while it’s been an adjustment for us, it hasn’t been horrible.) I’d put a chunk of cash down on a house there and rent out a room or two, so that my mortgage would be mostly (if not completely) covered by my roommates. I’d take a few classes at Longwood – it’s not the most prestigious school in the state, but another Master’s degree couldn’t hurt. I’d live there for a few years, figure out life in a small town, make some personal and professional connections, and try to get involved in the community. (My Master’s degree is in Higher Education, and there are two colleges in Farmville, even if not much else.) Then, after a few years, hopefully P would be ready to move on to another job in another city, and we’d move together. (Obviously, this assumes a few things about the future of our relationship, but it’s what I’d do at this very moment — if money were no object.)

So. That’s that.