Monday, February 27, 2012

Job Wanted

Job seeking. Job hunting. C.V.s. Cover Letters. Skillsets. LinkedIn. #jobfairy. The "hidden" jobs market.

It's just as well I'm unemployed because honestly it's turned into a full-time job in itself. When I was younger I wanted to be many things; a pilot, a marine biologist, an actress, a teacher. It was the last one that led me to science in UCD. I slogged away for years working towards a joint honours degree in molecular genetics and biochemistry, even managing to take time out for some kidney failure and surgery in my final year. I graduated in 2008 and landed a great lab job with my thesis supervisor.

I didn't know it yet but looking back now it's clear that something was missing.

I enjoyed the people I worked with, the work wasn't difficult and I was quite happily working 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday. I'd a second part-time job too and most weekends found me starting in the lab then heading off to the second gig before coming back to do more lab work. If there hadn't been a dramatic change in my personal circumstances I'd probably have continued on that way.

It was early 2009 whilst pregnant that I became violently ill. We almost lost our daughter who was delivered 14 weeks early. In a split second all priorities had changed. If I was going to leave the house to go to work and be away from her I had to make damn sure that whatever I was leaving the house for was worth it. Only being mother to one I'm not sure if this change in attitude was brought about by the simple act of becoming a mum or if the soap opera-type circumstances under which she arrived were the cause. All I knew was I couldn't go back.

As luck would have it whilst on maternity leave the funding for my research group wasn't renewed and I found myself not having to personally make the decision to look elsewhere. My luck then continued and I landed a wonderful theatre gig; working evenings which slotted perfectly in with my partners job where he works mornings. The lab seemed so very far away. I met some incredible people and realised that, much as I enjoyed my time in the lab, it wasn't really for me. I'd found myself surrounded by creative, vibrant and interesting people. No two days were ever the same, even though the work was. I'd had a taste of life without the lab coat and I liked it.

Possibly one of the hardest decisions I've ever made though was to turn my back on science. After all I'd devoted 7 years to it and it had come to define me. When your entire life revolves around one thing it can be very hard to take that step back and try and picture your life any differently. It was like a very messy relationship break-up. Then there's the justification that everyone else seemed to need. Why would I spend all that time if I wasn't really that into it? Why did I waste my parents' hard earned cash to pay for college to study something I didn't like? The concept that I had managed to fall-out of love with science seemed alien to those who'd all ended up with careers in industries they'd studied for. There's also the fact that having devoted so much time to a specific area you can end up feeling like there's nothing else you can do, not only just in terms of experience but there were times when I felt like I literally wasn't good enough to do anything else. Dark times which generally led to sofa dates with Ben & Jerry.

In September 2011 I met a wonderful woman by the name of Edel, a career guidance counsellor. Without wanting to sound too dramatic I can honestly say meeting her changed my life. For the first time I began to look at myself in terms of employment through someone elses eyes. Through her eyes. She helped me put the final nail in the coffin of my science career and inspired me to look to more creative areas where I was much more suited.

It's not been easy. Since November I've been constantly searching for the position that's just for me. A place where I'll be both valuable and valued. I'm looking for an organisation that is efficient, useful and engaging. Where, even at entry level, I'll have the opportunity to sound out new ideas and get involved in exciting projects. I'm busy building up my own personal brand and every day I'm on the hunt.

It's ironic that this year, 2012, the year when Dublin is the City of Science, I'm hoping to lay the lab to rest once and for all and embrace the new creative working-me!


  1. Have you tried the book the artists way? Google it it's worth a read, took me a year to do the 12 week course what with life and not wanting to admit some of the stuff, but did me the world of good and gave me the confidence to pack in teaching and go for the jewellery.

    Don't take any rubbish from people about going back to Science, I had one person tell me to stop wasting my time and go and do something useful like a masters! Why? what good would me staying in science or teaching do anyone? It's great for the people that found what suits them and want to stay there, but the rest of us need to cut our losses and run!

  2. I'll check out the book, cheers for that.