6.21.2007

job update: disappointment

I've been researching the computerized notetaking gig - gathering information, laying the groundwork - and have been increasingly excited about the possibilities. I was looking forward to the work, and especially the change of lifestyle it would bring. The pay turned out to be better than I thought, and the hours per week would be perfect.

Yesterday I found the catch, and I can't find a way around it.

There aren't enough work weeks. Notetakers work during class time only, not during reading periods (I didn't know what those were, but apparently Canadian college students have study breaks before exams), or during exams, and of course not between terms. I was told the rule of thumb is seven weeks on, seven weeks off. The pay is nice, but not enough thta I could work only half the year.

If I earned more money from my writing, this would be the perfect compliment. But although that happens occasionally, I can't count on it or plan for it. That's why I need the day-job in the first place. I could certainly supplement the notetaking work with writing and copyediting jobs, but it would only be supplemental, not an entire second income.

I've thought myself silly over this, but I can't come up with a way around it. Very reluctantly, I must give up the idea. Damn.

All work has a downside, and I easily recognize the downside that disappears as this option falls through: the insecurity of true freelancing. The constant hustling for work, the inability to turn down jobs, no matter how odious or inconvenient, because you don't know when the next offer will come in. I've done that, and that's why I settled on the steady day-job at a law firm.

I really wanted this notetaking gig, and I was willing to accept the downside with the bargain, at least to try it for a year. But now that I see it won't work, I can focus on the comforting prospect of seeing a steady paycheque deposited into my bank account every two weeks, and the luxury of paid vacations and sick time.

Trouble is, I still have to find one of those!

My dilemma: If I don't find a job with my preferred schedule, when do I give up and interview for jobs with conventional full-time schedules (which will feel something like going to prison)? There's no clear answer to this.

13 comments:

M@ said...

Ah, that sucks. Sorry. But better to thoroughly research and think through the option than to find the catches later in the process.

Though I can see one up-side to all this: next time anyone tells you you're "lucky" to have such awesome work hours (when you get your next job I mean, of course!), you can print out this post, hand it to them, flip 'em off, and kick dirt on their shoes.

Well, that's how I'd handle it. I guess there might be more positive ways to deal with things. I guess.

Anyhow, hope you'll find something soon.

L-girl said...

next time anyone tells you you're "lucky" to have such awesome work hours (when you get your next job I mean, of course!), you can print out this post, hand it to them, flip 'em off, and kick dirt on their shoes.

I am so there. Thanks for the permission. :)

My work hours now are really awesome! Heh.

L-girl said...

Oh, and:

But better to thoroughly research and think through the option than to find the catches later in the process.

Yes. Yes yes.

mkk said...

BTW, all the American universities I know of have reading periods before exams, too. It's not just a Canadian phenomenom.

L-girl said...

BTW, all the American universities I know of have reading periods before exams, too.

Really? I don't remember having that in college.

James said...

My dilemma: If I don't find a job with my preferred schedule, when do I give up and interview for jobs with conventional full-time schedules (which will feel something like going to prison)? There's no clear answer to this.

Every once in a while you end up stuck -- but you can always keep looking while you're enduring the less-than-ideal job.

Is there such a thing as a contracting house for freelance writers?

I've got a friend I should ask about that. Though I'm not sure he'll have options that appeal to you, as he's currently looking at taking a staff job at Milk Producers Monthly...

M@ said...

I am so there. Thanks for the permission. :)

I am also available for job interview coaching. :)

L-girl said...

but you can always keep looking while you're enduring the less-than-ideal job.

I can, it's true. But if I find a job through law-firm contacts I've made, I'll need to stay at least a year to avoid bridge-burning. Especially since I bolted on one job already.

Is there such a thing as a contracting house for freelance writers?

What does that mean?

he's currently looking at taking a staff job at Milk Producers Monthly...

Do you know, someone sent me an add for a staff job with the magazine of the Ontario Dairy Farmers Association! That must be it!

I really don't want a drudge job that's a writing job. I can earn more money and enjoy my life more working as a legal word processor, and saving my writing for what I care about.

James said...

Is there such a thing as a contracting house for freelance writers?

What does that mean?


In the IT industry, there are several companies that contractors can sign up with. The companies find contract positions for their staff contractors in return for a cut of what the hiring company pays.

I was wondering if there's any such a thing around for writers, or at least a "clearing house" for such jobs.

A friend has suggested this place for writing jobs: http://www.jeffgaulin.com/.

L-girl said...

I was wondering if there's any such a thing around for writers, or at least a "clearing house" for such jobs.

No clearing houses that I know of. The work doesn't pay well enough that it would be worth it for either the contract house or the writer. High-profile writers have agents do that kind of thing.

There are some good posting boards, such as the Jeff Gaulin list that you posted. That's an excellent listing.

Gaulin lists only staff jobs, as far as I know. I do keep an eye on those types of listings, but I have no experience as a staff editor or writer - because I never wanted to pursue that route.

When it comes to full-time jobs, I would definitely stick with my day-job work, where I can earn more money and save my writing for interesting projects and gigs.

The Dairy Farmers - just to use one example - would probably pay 30% less than I make in a law firm, be way more demanding, and not be very satisfying in terms of writing (to me).

L-girl said...

Another thought just occured to me. Perhaps I should still apply for the notetaking job. If I don't find a law-firm job by September, at least I'd have this well-paid (and presumably interesting) part-time work. It's not enough, but it's more than I'm earning now.

Wild English Rose said...

I was wondering if maybe you had thought about adding in other 'seasonal' academic type jobs that would fill the gaps whilst retaining a flexible schedule?

My brother who is extremely dyslexic dictated his exam scripts to a notetaker, then there are generally jobs invigilating and marking exams that take place outside normal study periods.

Just a suggestion as you were clearly very keen on the job. I hope you find something good soon.

Best wishes

L-girl said...

Thanks WER, I appreciate it. I'll look into that.

I know there is some (poorly-paid) work as a "scribe," writing exams for people with disabilities. Unfortunatley, I can't do any writing with a pen or pencil, because of my own minor disability in my hands. Typing, great. Writing, no.

It's certainly worth an inquiry at the office of services for students with disabilities, to see what other kinds of services they might need. Thanks again.