The Return to a Connected Life: Obliquely Finding My Way to a New Job*

"It turns out that if you want to go in one direction, the best route may involve going in another." ~ Suzi Dafnis

Just when I thought I was getting ready to graduate and to pursue a new career, I found myself back to where I started some time ago: Looking at a job in Online Content & Community (and Social Media) in a Technology environment. This time, connecting another personal interest: the Nonprofit Sector.

Woah! Where did that come from, you might ask?

Well, okay... Let me back up a bit here...

On the Job that the iPad Helped Me to Win

After my work at b5media ended, the last thing I wanted was to do more of the same. At least, not in the way that was available back then. I didn't even feel like "keeping one toe in the water." I just wanted something different.

At the time though, other than a couple of work possibilities, I was also invited to write for a long-running blog for bloggers, asked to do a podcast show or two with local and overseas media players, and given the possibility of working with a popular blogger who wished to run a Social Media/Blogging Conference here in Australia. I was interested, of course. But, I was also tired and worn out. So, I did not pursue any of it. I just wasn't ready.

And, while I was honoured and pleased to be named as one of Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" (2009), and being called as "one of the Web's most talented writers" --- along with a number of "Top Bloggers' List" from different sources... All I wanted to do was unplug and disconnect.

I mean, sure, I maintained my blogs and social networks. I even started some projects. And, I even began working on various online freelance work.

So yes, I stayed online. But, for the most part, I lived an offline life over the last 18 months - pursuing my second Masters' degree, working for a nonprofit organisation on a part-time basis, writing for a print magazine, finishing my novel and starting to revise it, travelling to Singapore, England, and South Africa... Spending some time with family and friends... Making new friends and connections and rekindling old ones...

Generally, just loving my life and the world around me.

And slowly, I felt better and better. Over the last few months, I began to feel stronger and energised.

But, I wasn't looking for a job. Well, at least, nothing big and heavy. Not quite yet.

I wanted to wait for something special to come along. Preferably, after graduation.

However, life doesn't always go as planned. And sometimes, you just go with the flow when opportunities come along.

You see, the thing is, I have this really strange habit. I LOVE reading the classifieds. It goes way back. Seriously. I've been reading classified ads long before I was legally allowed to work. It's that bad.

Although I occasionally send an application here and there, when something captures my eye... I don't always apply for jobs. I just like reading the ads and finding out what kind of jobs are available in the areas and industries that I'm interested in. I enjoy finding out where the jobs are, how much money people make doing those jobs, what kind of skills and background job hunters are looking for...

Weird, I know. But, maybe that's just the Renaissance Soul in me. 🙂

And... Well, while I was in my usual mode of reading the classifieds via my Seek.com.au email alert, I came across this job opening that read like a dream to me. My heart started pounding wildly, my head spun in excitement, and my mind raced as I thought of the possibilities.

The ad talked about the job being a new role in an Adelaide-based nonprofit organisation that connects other nonprofits and charities through technology --- with an Australia-wide focus and an international flavour. It mentioned words like social media, web 2.0 tools, communities, travel, conferences... They were obviously really keen to fill the role because they even offered to relocate anyone who wins the job.

The more I read about it, the more I felt I needed to give it a go. To find out if what I immediately felt at the time would be confirmed: That I'm a perfect fit for the job.

So, I whipped up my résumé and wrote the most heartfelt, out-of-the-ordinary cover letter I ever wrote in my life. I'm still not sure where I gathered up the courage to do what I did, but I just knew that I couldn't write the usual cover letter template when applying for this job - even though there was a part of me that wanted to stick to conventional letters. I just thought that the person who'd be reading my application would either appreciate my genuine enthusiasm for the job - or would not take me seriously.

The next day, I received an interesting acknowledgement email from the CEO. And, the process began...

It took a month to hear again about the status of that application. When I found out that there were about 50 applicants from interstate and overseas, I began to shake in my winter boots.

How do you compete with 50 people who want the same thing you do?

Then, I heard I was shortlisted for an interview.

The shaking stopped long enough for me to start preparing.

As part of that interview, I had to do a 15-minute presentation to a five-member panel. Yes, it was that time when I said I did a bold presentation using my brand new iPad and Keynote (my first time using these tools!). The panel interview lasted over an hour, even though I barely had a voice due to my long-running cold/cough. It was nerve-wracking but energising.

During my preparations, I slowly began to reconnect with why I love working with online media in the first place. I remembered what it is about this gig that I feel passionate about.

I know I want to be a part of something special. Something that can hopefully can make a difference in other people's lives.

And, that can't be achieved in any job.

I know that I need work that will excite me from the start. Something that will enable me to dream and to be engaged in something bigger than myself. A job that will enable me to work with amazing, passionate, and intelligent people.

This job seemed to offer that - and more (including working with an award-winning CEO who was named "Innovator of the Year"!).

And, just over a week after that massive panel interview, I received a call from Doug Jacquier (yes, the award-winning CEO) --- offering me this amazing job (in-between coughing, no less - how embarrassing! :-)).

It's a job that comes with an incredible team --- For a local organisation, with a nationwide focus. Something that will enable me to connect with a number of incredible communities who are doing fantastic things in the nonprofit sector all over Australia (and New Zealand), as well as the fantastic donors and sponsors of the organisation. Working with online content and technology. Perhaps, even getting in contact with the organisation's international partner, TechSoup Global. And, it's all wrapped up in a fabulous work package.

How can I resist?

Life as I know it right now will change in a massive way. I have to re-arrange schedules and priorities. I have to reconsider certain goals and plans.

And I will need to get ready and take the commute to the city, where I'll be working in an office everyday. (Oh, and yes, I will have to start looking at my work wardrobe once again - no pyjama working days on this one!)

It's only on contract at the moment. But yes, I have accepted. And, in less than two weeks' time, I'll be starting this new job.

So, what's this fantabulous job?

The role: Manager, Online Content (+ Community/Social Media)

The workplace: Connecting Up Australia**

Now, let's see where this new ride will take me, shall we?


* Maybe I should add to the title... "The Return to a Connected Life: Obliquely Finding My Way to a New Job" ... with a little help from my iPad! Or perhaps, do a sub-title: The Job That The iPad Helped Me To Win 🙂

* Obliquely = This term struck me after encountering the concept through Suzi Dafnis' newsletter when she introduced the book, Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly by John Kay. I haven't read the book yet, but it's on my list. Sounds like a good read!

** Remember my 2010 Word of the Year? I said I couldn't understand why on earth the word "Connect" stuck with me as a focus word for 2010. Now, look what that word has landed me! And, how I'm back to leading a connected life again... Yes, I even used my WOTY in my application and my interview presentation. How's that for powerful words in motion? 🙂

About the Author Shai Coggins

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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