This is the post I always expected I’d end up writing, but the circumstances are not quite what I anticipated.
After 18 months, I’m mere hours away from moseying out the front door of the Kennebec Journal for the last time.I don’t think reality has necessarily sunk in on that front yet, but I imagine it will tonight.
When I first accepted the job and moved here, my bosses had made the informal request that I commit to a year in my new role as web editor. I of course agreed, for two reasons: primarily because it was the least I could do, since they’d shown faith in me by hiring what amounted to an untested foreigner; and a little more selfishly because anything less than a year in my first job in the United States would look less than ideal on the CV of me, said untested foreigner.
While I confess to having kept my eye on JournalismJobs.com’s Twitter feed throughout my first year, I never had any intention of not seeing out my promised 12 months.
And as I noted in a couple of columns and blog posts late last year, there was something of a transition that occurred as my anniversary at the KJ approached.
Through working part-time in the bar, making some new friends in the process, and eventually (inevitably?) falling for a wonderful woman, my life had developed outside of the office to a point where the job wasn’t the only reason for being in small-town central Maine.
So with that in mind, and a desire to develop my professional skill set away from the news side of things and focusing on social media aspects, I ultimately decided to give my notice at the paper and freelance a little bit over the summer. I’ve had some great feedback on the social media work I’ve done for The Maine House, up to and including the website I launched for the bar this week, and so I’m targeting some local businesses which I think could benefit from some professional(ish) social media guidance.
I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished during my time at the KJ. I sure as hell never expected to be given a column to write, and while sometimes it’s been a tough slog, the results are always pleasing and it’s still humbling and surreal to hear from and meet readers who actually follow it every other week. I was only here a few months before we launched a redesigned news website, the live transition to which I was on deck for. The end product is also something to be proud of.
I also learned – probably belatedly, I think – what it’s like to work for a newspaper, something I never got to do earlier in my career back home. It took me months to learn the lingo, because the print world has a whole different vocabulary, but now I know more about the inner workings of your daily paper. A little bit more, anyway.
For the next few months I’ll also be working at the bar, helping out my girlfriend and her family in their business, which I’ve found fulfilling and challenging in completely different ways. It’s been a decade since I’ve worked directly with people in a customer-service sense, and obviously I’d never experienced the opposite side of the hospitality industry in the U.S., where it’s a whole other kettle of fish. I’m my father’s son, though, and I’ve got the gift of the gab, so I enjoy the chance to interact with people in that setting.
To those who’ve been following this blog from the start, and potentially don’t even know me in person: Betcha didn’t expect this turn of events, eh?
Of course, once the summer is over and I presumably return to seeking full-time professional work, I’ll see whether my prediction about “having U.S. experience at the top of my resume making the job search easier” is actually correct. I’ll still be writing my column every other week, and the advertising department at the paper made a vague offer for me to write some copy every now and then, so I’ll have those outlets to stay sharp and keep my portfolio ticking along.
And hell, maybe I’ll even write a blog post or two eh? (I actually really will. I’ve got a 3k-word recap of our Mexican vacation which I’ve been procrastinating about posting because I have to sort through photos. I’m so Goddamn lazy.) Undoubtedly, the next few months of working “out of the box,” so to speak, may provide some interesting – or at least, introspective – writing inspiration, and you’ll all be the first to know.
You poor, long-suffering bastards.