Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Our Next Steps

I'm here with big news, folks! We finally know what our next steps in this big career transition are going to be. It has been a long time in the making.

New Job

As of last week, Eric has accepted a job as a Policy Analyst, working specifically in education policy. He will be working for a national non-profit organization based in Brooklyn, though the majority of the organization's workforce is located remotely. Thus, Eric will be able to work from a home office, and we don't have to leave Jacksonville!

This job feels like a perfect next step for Eric, and he's really excited about it. He'll be working with a small policy-specific team, as part of a larger organization dedicated to helping schools and districts attract, train and retain great teachers for all students. The team supports this mission at all levels of the process, from classrooms, schools and school districts to state departments of education. More than a traditional think-tank, the work of the policy group is strongly focused on the actual implementation of good policy, to make sure great ideas actually benefit real students. It's a great starting position in a field that has piqued Eric's interest since early in this career-change process, and even if it isn't ultimately the right fit for him, it should open up many more doors for him going forward. In the meantime, though, he's excited to get started!

We're just so thrilled about this new job. Eric really cast a wide net in looking for his next steps. He considered school-based administration, graduate school, non-profit development work, teaching at a private school, fellowships, etc. He applied for a ton of things and this has been a primary topic of conversation in our house for about two years now. As of early April, it seemed the field of options was narrowing. Eric seemed to be zeroing in on grad school as his first choice option (he was accepted to the Masters of Public Policy program at Duke with good scholarship support), and I was trying to wrap my head around one of us going back to school again. He was also looking at various fellowship options for the summer, which would have kept him away from us for about 10 weeks and may or may not have transitioned into full-time work afterwards. And, it most definitely would have been out-of-state.

Then, this job popped up online. Eric applied and began the months-long interview process. He has honestly been interviewing for this job since April. When we first saw the job posting, we thought it sounded really promising but tried not to think too much about it, in an attempt to keep from getting our hopes up and then dashed. I was mentally preparing myself for a summer without Eric and a possible out-of-state move in August, finding new schools for Ellie, etc., etc., so we just kept this new job possibility at the back of our minds and didn't entertain it much.

Eric went through five rounds of interviews: a screening interview, a work sample exercise, a phone interview with the position's direct supervisor, a phone interview with a couple of senior team members, and an in-person interview in Denver two weeks ago. As I said, the entire process took the better part of three months, and at each stage we could feel our hopes growing more and more. By the time he was flying out to Denver, the pressure was on. Eric had put a lot of eggs in a lot of different baskets, but by that point, this was the only basket left.

He felt like his interview went well, though he learned that over 600 people had initially applied for that job. As I waited for him to return from Denver, my anxiety piqued. I mean, I felt like I knew he was right for that job and he would be great at it. But, it sounded like there were probably three other interviewees in Denver at the same time, so three other families thought the same thing. What if he didn't get it? What would we do next?

I picked Eric up from the airport at 2:00 the next morning, and we chatted the whole drive back to our house. As soon as we stepped out of the car, Eric held out his arms and said, "Hey, I got it!" and that was that. Our next step was decided and we were so happy! I'm so proud of Eric. He's so capable and he is going to rock this job. It's such a great next step for our family. It's what we hoped would happen after teaching, when we first made the switch out of law. It's so gratifying to see Eric's hard work paying off and his plans coming to fruition!

New House

However, I mentioned above that Eric will be working from a home office. If you have ever been to our house, you know that we do not have even a square foot of extra space in our tiny little three-bedroom house. There is no room for an extra desk, let alone a full-blown home office. So, we figured we should start looking for a new place. In addition to space concerns, our house is also pretty old, and there is talk of the nearby hospital buying up our block in the next few years for expansion. We have lived in constant fear that something significant will go wrong with the old house and the landlord will decide not to fix it, opting instead to just wait for the hospital to buy him out, and then we'll be out of luck. Also, the hospital is definitely expanding into the two blocks across the street from us, and they started construction this week, which has made things dirty and noisy (hello, construction noise at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning), plus we're dealing with street closures and construction equipment in front of our house regularly. So, not ideal.

Knowing that Eric might need a home office and we would have to look for a place sooner or later, I've been casually checking Zillow for rental homes for the past month or so, mostly just to get an idea of what we might be looking at spending in our desired areas. Our current house is a steal (but, also not in great shape and tiny), and I was getting discouraged with 1) the lack of rental options in our immediate neighborhood in general, and 2) the significantly higher prices to stay in San Marco at all. I worried we might have to move further away to find something big enough for a reasonable price.

Then, late last week, I stumbled upon a house listed for rent just about across the street from Ellie's school/our church. It's much bigger (nearly 800 square feet bigger), two stories, with not only a decent-sized living room but also a family room, dining room, playroom and small office upstairs. It has a nice, big fenced-in backyard and is on a quiet street. It's too far for us to walk out to the river like we do now (though a bike ride is perfectly reasonable), but it is still walkable to the town square and of course, to Ellie's school (both her current preschool and her future elementary school). Given all those great things that I didn't think we'd be able to find in a house in San Marco, PLUS the incredibly reasonable rental price, I went to look at it right away. Then, I rushed home to tell Eric about this great find. By the end of the week, we had signed a lease!

So, we're moving! And Eric is getting a new job! Big things are happening, folks.

Of course, all this is interrupted by a 10-day road trip coming up next week, with the ultimate destination being my family reunion in Cleveland. So, right now we're packing like crazy (and I have jury work, because of course I do), then we'll pause the moving craziness for 10 days while we go on our road trip (a 10-day road trip with two small kids is its own special brand of craziness), and then when we get back we'll have a week or so to move in, settle down and get Eric started at his new job!

Needless to say, it's a madhouse over here right now. So, I will likely be MIA for a bit yet again. But, when I return, we'll be kicking off the next phase for us! Wish us luck!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So happy for you guys!! We're looking forward to seeing you "crazies" in Cleveland! Safe travels! And congrats to Eric on his new job!!
Aunt Rachel