February. What, already? Okay, so my New Year’s resolution to update my blog on a weekly basis hasn’t really worked out so far! But, in my defence, January was one of the most manic months I’ve ever experienced.
Having just survived my first ever Christmas-hosting experience (really not in a hurry to do that again!), I then finished at my old job on 8th January and, after an incredibly restorative break of, um, one whole day, I started my new job in London*. Oh, and my boyfriend and I moved house from Cambridge to London on 5th January. All in all, it was a hectic start to 2013.
So, after a month in London and almost a month in the new job, how are things shaping up? [Warning: the next sentence contains very un-Lauren-like levels of positivity!]
London is fabulous and the new job…well, it’s pretty great too! Apologies if this is all a bit smug but large chunks of 2012 were pretty rubbish for me both personally and professionally, so a happy start to 2013 is a welcome change.
So, how did this all start anyway? Well, it was a case of a perfect storm. First of all, in the middle of last year, my boyfriend was offered a wonderful job opportunity in London. He would start in October 2012. And this wasn’t just any job. This was a stunning promotion, a proper ‘excuse me, while I just leap up the career ladder’ moment. We had only recently got back together after a difficult few months and his amazing new opportunity threw into sharp relief the fact that I really was dragging my heels on the job front.
I think I was in a really common situation. I didn’t hate my job. I didn’t hate my colleagues. I had been there for over three years and I knew how things worked. It was a comfy position to be in. But isn’t being comfortable sometimes just a euphemism for stagnating? In my case, yes, it was. I was pretty sure that I was in the right industry (publishing), but was I really in the right area (academic)? As 2012 ticked on, various bits and pieces happened that made me feel that no, this really wasn’t the ideal job for me. But change is hard and I could always come up with plenty of excuses not to start applying for something new:
-“We’re in a recession. There aren’t any jobs. It would be madness to give up an established career.”
-“I only know how to work in academic publishing. They won’t want to hire me to work for a trade house. They’ll think I can only work with academics on textbooks. There’s no point in even applying.”
-“I’ve just been asked to cover a period of maternity leave. I can’t leave now – people would just be left in the lurch.”
However, as some fabulous friends pointed out, these weren’t actually very good excuses:
-“Actually, there are jobs out there. Not a lot of jobs, but a few publishing gigs are definitely available. There’ll be a lot of competition but if you don’t apply, you definitely have no chance.”
-“Maybe. Maybe all the trade-publishing houses won’t want you. Maybe some of them won’t want to employ you. Maybe one of them will – and you really only need one! But if you don’t apply, you definitely have no chance.”
-“There will never be a perfect time to leave your current job. If you’re not covering maternity leave, you’ll be working on a super-important project, or preparing to travel to a busy conference. There will always be an excuse to stay put.”
And so, slowly, I started sending out applications. Evenings were spent putting together cover letters and updating my CV. I developed a minor fixation with checking the Guardian jobs website, and a slightly more serious obsession with the jobs section of the Bookseller.
As any other job-hunters will know, most of my applications received absolutely no response. Nothing. Nada. Not even a ‘thanks for sending in your application’ or ‘thanks but no thanks.’ So even though you know perfectly well that you’ve been unsuccessful, the lack of response gives you just that teeny tiny spark of hope that maybe, just maybe, you might get an interview.
With pretty much a total lack of response, I think I was permanently disheartened for several months. October 2012 rolled around and my boyfriend started his new job, commuting back and forth to London everyday. There were a few weeks when the job hunt slowed, when there didn’t seem to be any new openings.
A tiny advert in the Bookseller. A small publisher. Looking for a commissioning editor to work on their mind, body and spirit list. Ho hum. Mind, body and spirit. This was definitely my area. Out came the cover letter and out went the usual standard phrases about my academic background, my academic publishing experience. In went the fact that I love yoga, that I’m fascinated by astrology, that I own a scary amount of self-help books.
The next day I was invited for an interview.
My interviewers were really friendly. We talked about different yoga styles. We talked about astrology. We discussed cranio-sacral therapy and hypnotherapy. My academic background wasn’t mentioned at all.
They asked me what I knew about trade publishing. I said not a lot.
They asked me if I had experience using any of their design systems. I said no.
Then we talked about yoga again.
Later that day, I got the job.
I’ve been here for just over a month. I work in a lovely open-plan office in central London. I have absolutely loads to learn as very little about my previous job has prepared me for my new role. Fortunately, I have very patient colleagues who are showing me the ropes and bearing with me as I slowly find my feet.
Over the past month, I’ve also found that the little grey cloud of negativity that I’d been trailing around for a large part of 2012 has disappeared. I’m starting to remember that actually, I’m not a negative person. Sarcastic? Yes, definitely. Cynical? Occasionally. But negative? Well, not so much. It’s amazing what a fresh start and doing something that you really love can do!
Which isn’t to say it’s all flowers and rainbows here in London town. I miss my friends in Cambridge loads and I don’t really know anyone in my new area. I miss my 15 minute cycle to work, which has been replaced by almost an hour each way of rush-hour on the tube (which, by the way, is my least favorite thing about London at the moment, and probably will get its own post on here at some point!).
So that’s a little update on all things QQ at the moment!
Yep, change is daunting. Yep, it’s very odd to go from knowing all the ins and outs of your job to knowing very little and being the new girl. But overall, taking a bit of a leap in the dark and changing direction is turning out to be a very good decision!
And I promise that the next post will be a return to your regularly scheduled dose of snarkiness (maybe!).
*No, this really wasn’t the plan and obviously a longer break between jobs would have been fantastic, however a combination of two month’s notice plus no annual leave added up to a stupidly stressful turnaround!