Most of my regular readers already know this story, but I want to make sure I write it down for posterity. As I think I mentioned a few months ago, my tenure at Cutters Edge has come to an end. For a variety of reasons (not all of which I agreed with), the decision was made to close down the office I moved to Harrisburg to open three years ago. My dad offered me a different job within the company but it wasn’t a job I was interested in, and I decided this would be a good time to get out of the fire rescue equipment field and back into something I had a better feel for, and got more enjoyment from.
I decided to try to get back into web project management, something I had done plenty of in the 90s before the .com bubble burst and sent me to Cutters Edge in the first place. I spent much of March & April looking for web producer jobs in the area without much success. I did get very close — it was down to me & one other candidate — at a company right here in Harrisburg which I would really have enjoyed working at. They regularly place on the “best places to work in Pennsylvania” survey and in the time I spent interviewing I could see why. It was a tight-knit group who seemed to work really hard and get along really well. I really enjoyed the vibe at the office and I was pretty crushed when I didn’t get that job.
Once they published their press release showing who they had hired, I went and applied for that guy’s old job, at another production company, this time in Lebanon. I went for multiple interviews there, including a half-day spent “shadowing” the PM staff, and once again was one of two finalists. Once again, I didn’t get the job. Very demoralizing, especially since those were pretty much the only two leads I had (though in retrospect I think I wouldn’t have been too happy at that second company — the president seemed a bit hard to get along with). In each case, it took them about two months to come to a decision, which meant weeks of waiting and multiple interviews before I was told I wasn’t wanted.
After I got turned down for that second job things looked pretty bleak. There just aren’t a whole lot of web jobs in central PA for a guy who isn’t a programmer, and I was starting to expand my search to project management jobs in industries that didn’t really interest me all that much. I was certainly feeling the pressure to provide for my family, something that I hadn’t had to deal with the last time I was on the job market.
In early June I re-connected with an old friend on Facebook. This is a guy I met on The Well back when I was living in Chicago — we quickly became real-life friends as well but once I moved to the Bay Area and he quit The Well we drifted apart. The day I added him as a friend, he sent me a message telling me that his company was hiring, and was I by any chance looking for a job? Now, I have no market research experience but my buddy seemed to think that I would be good in the position, and when he sent over the job description, I had to agree. They were looking for people with good writing skills, strong analytical skills, and knowledge of, and interest in, a wide range of topics.
I spoke to my buddy on the phone a few times and he passed my resume and writing samples on to the VP in charge of hiring. All the while, he regaled me with stories of how tight-knit the office is, and what an awesome time he had working with a tremendous client list (including companies like MTV, MySpace, adidas, the NBA, Sony BMG, ESPN, Disney, Nokia, etc. etc. etc.).
I spoke to the VP a few times and things went well enough that the company flew me to Chicago for a half-day interview. I met with the VP, the president, and a few of the other research directors and managers, and everything went very well. I felt like not only would I be able to do a good job, but that I would enjoy working for the company.
A week later, they made me an offer, I accepted it, and in two weeks I start as a Research Director! I actually already have my first client and have my first business trip all planned for my second day, when I fly to Denver, then Sacramento, then Salt Lake City to do a series of ethnographic (in-home) research studies.
Throughout the process I pushed to allow them to let me stay in Harrisburg, but ultimately they wouldn’t go for that, which means that we’re moving to Chicago! (This is what is known in the business as “burying your lede.”) That’s a dream for me, to move back to my home city, but I know it’s going to be tough for Daryl and will be a pretty big adjustment for Zosia as well (no big deal for Vivi, I’d say). So, in between business trips and learning not only a new job and company, but a whole new career, we have to sell this house, pack everything up, buy a house in Chicago, and move. All in the next 6-8 weeks.
It’s daunting, and at times terrifying, but the end result is going to be really positive. After the multiple rejections it is really nice to be wanted by a company, and specifically to be appreciated not just for my skillset but for what I enjoy doing. The sorts of things this company does are the sorts of things I already did in my spare time — the possibility of getting paid to talk about new products, product positioning, branding, etc., is almost too good to be true.
This is a job with a future, I think. I didn’t have a future at Cutters Edge — at least not one that was all that attractive. Now I have something to look forward to that could be rewarding not only professionally, but personally as well. All I have to do is get through the next few weeks of The Present to get to that future.