The Last Six

Back when I was working with my dad as a producer for his multimedia production company, we had a section on our website to chronicle what we’ve been up to in the last six months. It was a means to advertise to current and potential clients that we’ve been actively engaged in different types of services that they might need. As I haven’t written here in awhile and we’re coming up on six months since my last day of work, I thought I would take a moment to share my journey.

First off, despite everything that has made 2011 a pretty rough year so far, I have to say that I have been so fortunate to have been able to spend so much time one-on-one with Liam. It’s been nothing short of amazing to watch him grow up and share so many special moments that are uniquely ours. I’ve also had the tremendous opportunity to spend a great deal of time with Kim since I didn’t have to work on all of those holidays and school breaks that she had off. Our struggles and stresses have made us much closer and I am so grateful for that. As much as it seriously sucked that I lost my job, I have learned a lot about myself during these past six months and I think it’s made me a better dad for Liam and partner for Kim.

I started off the night I was laid off by reaching out to all of my contacts across the Photoshop and photography community that I have made over the years writing here, asking for their help in looking for openings and helping to spread the word that I was now on the market. I received so many words of encouragement and support from so many of you; it really helped get me through the initial days and weeks of this trying time.

I must have sent out well over a hundred resumes and applications in one form or another that first month. If I received a response at all (which was a rare thing) it was invariably something along the lines of, “Thank you for your interest in our company. While your qualifications are impressive, we have selected another candidate…” and I was on to the next. It’s an evil waiting game that you go through when applying for jobs. For some you can get a pretty quick response saying that you’re not right for it. For others you can wait over a month to hear the bad news. But for most, you’ll never hear a word. It’s a strange feeling knowing that when you click “apply” or drop the envelope in the mailbox that you probably just wasted your time and/or postage sending your stuff to someone who will either just delete it or toss it into the recycle bin.

I did get one interview fairly early on. Back in February an organization I used to be heavily involved in was looking for a new webmaster. I knew everything about the organization, all the key players – many of whom I would consider friends – and I could get the job done. They even had a remote office not 15 minutes from my front door. The interview went well, I met with someone about benefits, and I got the feeling that they wanted to offer it to me. But there was one sticking point: the communications director wanted the webmaster to work out of their main offices, located an hour and a half away from where I live. Now, there is a precedent in the organization for a person in a similar role to work remotely and I even made the argument of how I would be able to fill the shoes of two positions he was looking to add instead of just one. Everything seemed good, but he kept coming back to the fact that he wanted someone in-house. It was a deal breaker for him. And so I got the fateful letter.

In March we were dealt a blow when we were having our gas meter replaced by the utility company as part of a routine upgrade when they discovered that our furnace was in extremely bad shape and we needed to get a new one installed. That same week Kim was notified that her position as an elementary art teacher was being eliminated due to cuts in state aid for education. Now, we’re both in full-swing searching for jobs.

The next month and a half was pretty quiet. I got a call from an editor for the local paper about a job laying out pages, but it would’ve meant working the exact opposite hours as Kim and I would never see my family except on weekends – and I wasn’t about to do that.

In late April I had an interview with a large marketing firm in the area. The job seemed like it would’ve been a great fit as one of their designers. The creative director even got in touch with me about being an event photographer for an upcoming awards ceremony. Everything seemed good. But after six weeks of waiting to hear, I asked where things stood and got the usual email once again.

Mixed in with all the rest, we’ve had to deal with a lot of other stresses too: collecting unemployment benefits, some friends’ potential divorce, a leaky roof that needs to be replaced, unnecessary drama from various corners, and a death in the family.

Kim has been applying like crazy, too, with mixed results. She was  immediately snatched up by our resident school district to enable her to serve as a substitute teacher for the next school year. Through a tip from her predecessor for her current job, she has secured a long-term art sub position for a teacher going on maternity leave in the fall. Even though she is still looking for a full-time post, at least there are a couple of things in place in the meantime.

For me, this past week has been promising. I went to a career fair at the local community college on Friday and had a really good conversation with the program director of one of the radio station clusters in the region. On Monday he called and we scheduled an interview. On Tuesday I went in and sat with him and a couple of others to discuss my qualifications and experience. And now I’m waiting to hear the results. Unlike the other interviews, which obviously resulted in less than desirable outcomes, I felt a confidence and a comfort that has given me a really good feeling about this job. Maybe the third interview is the charm?

We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully with the end of the first six months of 2011 we will begin to see a change in our fortunes. Maybe I’ll get the call I’ve been waiting for in the next week or so. Maybe Kim will get a call about one of the openings she’s applied for. Or maybe an unknown benefactor will just give us some money to help make things run even just a little smoother. We’ll take any two.

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