September 30, 2012
Well, I’m back. Sorry for not posting for nearly a week. I was offered a job that required a cross-country move. Alas I am no longer living in beautiful southern Illinois, but North-eastern Montana. It was quite the move. The trip took three days and covered 1,700 miles. Along the route I saw some amazingly beautiful scenery and marveled in awe as I saw a gradual shift from dry summer to fall like conditions as I made the trek north. The change of location has been a real head spinner.
It all happened so quickly. I think that is why it has been such a dizzying experience. In fact the whole summer has been a blur of stress and anxiety. Having just completed my coursework requirements for my graduate program in May, I immediately jumped into the summer with both barrels blazing. In order to secure my MA, I had to pass both written and oral examinations by a panel of PhDs in my field. I can honestly say that I have never studied so hard in my life for anything. When you know that you can be tested on anything and everything that you have learned in the last six years of college, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. What really saved my bacon was the extensive organization of all my classwork, research, and notes that I had begun as a freshman. Looking back it seems like remarkable foresight on my part, but it had more to do with my geeky nature and love of new ideas. I organized all my electronic notes, research, and papers by year, semester, class, and project. All my paper notes and research, as well as hard copies of all my academic papers were placed in individual three-ring binders, categorized by semester and class. This came in especially handy during grad school where we regularly read several hundred pages a week in printouts from historical journals. Thanks to JSTOR, an online academic journal database, I was able to obtain PDF copies of nearly all of the articles and file them in my electronic safe.
Following the insanity of the graduate exams, I had to turn my attention to finding work. I knew from experience that I didn’t want a job. I wanted a career. Jobs are a dead end, but careers can take you places and let you expand. I wanted a career that allowed ample opportunity for advancement, a good retirement plan, and solid health coverage. I knew that my local area wouldn’t offer any such opportunities so I came to terms with the fact that I would most likely have to pick up and move elsewhere. A career in the federal government would meet all my requirements. So I began my search for federal employment. Utilizing the internet for research I began looking at various agencies and their job satisfaction and job security figures. Since all government job postings are located on a single site, USAJOBS.gov, I was able to see what agencies were doing the most hiring, and what positions were open. From there I simply narrowed my search focus to a few agencies that had good employee satisfaction and lots of openings. I sent out nearly ninety applications to various locations and agencies. After nearly two months of rejection letters, I finally landed two interviews in the same week. I declined one of the interviews due to a housing shortage in the area, and I went on with the second. The interview went well, and I landed the position. From then I had two weeks before I needed to report for duty nearly 1,700 miles away from home. The mad rush to get packed and prepared for the move began immediately. But more on that later…
Image Credit: Benjamin Joyner