Friday, July 5, 2013


About 6 weeks ago, I applied for a job that I saw advertised. I did it, pretty much, on a whim. The organisation, which is a university, is one I like a lot, is very local to me; the job parameters and description lined up very closely with my past professional experience; and the level and conditions sounded good. I thought, hey, I could do with the practice of writing a job application again, especially as my freelancing work has been on a steady slowdown and I’ve been contemplating whether salaried employment might be a better bet for me once C is in school next year.

The thing is, I like freelancing. I like working on different things and having a lot of flexibility about how I deliver work. I like fallow periods and I cope (although not always well) with the flipside, ridiculously busy periods. But the truth is this – the instability of the income and the unpredictability of the market has been hard on me. In a broader sense, it’s been hard on my family, who barely got anything useful from me in terms of time and attention in the last 6 months of last year (but we had pots of money!) and have felt a financial pinch again this year as my workload has been patchy and slow, and the stresses that creates.

So a return to salaried employment was something I’d been seriously considering for a few months now, and I envisaged myself starting to look around properly after the summer holidays, once C was settled in school. This job would be a good little practice exercise for me; a chance to clean up my CV and remind myself how to write application letters.

Thus, I sent off my application in very early June, was quite happy with the text I’d put together for it, and promptly more or less forgot about it. The long weekend came and went; my freelance projects wound towards their end, with no new bookings in sight; and I did my parenting thing.

Then, two weeks after applications closed, I got an email asking me to come in for an interview. I found this galvanising; being shortlisted for interview was a serious boost to my flagging confidence, and I prepared thoroughly for my interview, still not expecting anything to come of it.

The interview went well and I was happy with how I’d acquitted myself, which did not keep me from being shocked when called for a second interview on the Friday of the same week. 

To cut a very long story short – a week ago I was offered, and accepted, the position. While it was advertised as a fulltime role, my new employer was very receptive to my request to work partly from home in the 6 months remaining before C starts school. Until the second week of February, I’m going to be working one day of my time from home, with two normal length days and two timeshifted days (with early starts and early finishes) in the office. We’ll re-evaluate how that’s going in March.

I have a combination of grandparent care, partner moving to a 4-day working week, and a babysitter one morning and one afternoon a week in place to cover the gaps this year. And, importantly for me, I’m keeping my Thursdays – my Mummy and C day, when C has no kinder and we can really enjoy time together – as my home day. Although I’ll still need to work during that day, my employer is happy for me to fit this in time-wise around C’s needs. So I am aiming to try to get a solid 3 hours done early in the morning by getting up at 5am, allowing me to buy back some quality daytime hours to spend with C, and if necessary I can also carry over hours to complete at the weekend, if there are times when C needs my attentiveness most of the day.

This is kind of a high-powered job. If I am honest, I don’t think I really expected to get a job at this level of seniority ever again; not after 10 years of career taking a backseat to parenting. (A choice I have never regretted, and feel thankful for every day). I am going to need to really put my back into it, and there will be a lot of late nights and a lot of learning in my future as I get a grip on what’s required. I’m sure the delicate ecosystem that is our family life will need to adapt, and that might not always be comfortable.

But this is a really good job. It’s interesting, it’s significant, it’s challenging but still uses my expertise so I don’t start from scratch. The conditions are first rate, it’s local, and one of my friends already works there. And it means my income is known and secure, and we can plan and budget on that with confidence.

I start in my new role on 30 July. I will be heavily occupied in the next 3 weeks with school holidays, completing current freelance obligations, trying to do some more Hugo reviewing, and preparing the family for change. I’ll then be trying to learn my new role. I am also firmly committed to completing my blog novel, The Ark at the End of the World, and keeping up my fortnightly Interleaves column at The Shake … and there is only so much a person can do, if that person wants to still focus on being a present parent. 

As a result, when my job starts I am putting this blog on weekly posting only - probably Sundays, I think - and bowing out of my beloved but timesucking Twitter on weekdays as well. I’ll also be ceasing reading other blogs for now. So if you are not a weekend social media reader, and it thus should chance that we do not cross online paths for a while, please allow me to wish you and yours all the very best for the weeks and seasons to come. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Congrats! It is so hard to launch right back into a career after the parenting stretch...that is a pretty awesome coup to land that job!

    Love your solution to the child-care issue as well.

    All the very best! - Fiona