My work-life balance is at an all-time weird for me. I thought I’d document it here on the blog today, because I think it’ll help explain why I struggle to write and blog these days. In hindsight, it gave me some clarity on how I can make better use of my time!
I wake up every morning between 5-6 AM. I have multiple alarms, starting as early as 4:30 AM, and the ones I select to turn on each night depend on how late I end up staying up; proper bedtime is never as early as it should be. Once I’m out of bed, I get a coffee going. Sometimes I have belVita breakfast biscuit, but more often I do without. Although this week I’ve had reheated oatmeal I made in bulk this weekend.
The earlier I wake up the more time I have to write or work on other personal things before I have to leave for work. Depending on where I work that morning and how much I have to do, I usually have to be at work at 7:30, 8, or 9 AM. If I am going in to work 9 AM, then that usually affords me time to walk Opal to a nicer area a little further than where we live. Otherwise I try to arrange a leisurely walk around the apartment complex before too many others are up and about.
I will work until 11:30 AM or 12 PM and return home for about two hours to walk Opal, give her lunch, and have my own. Lunch is usually a sandwich or leftovers. This part of the afternoon goes very quick. I’m not currently very good at being productive during it, so I’m happy if its nice enough weather to give her a longer walk so it counts towards my own exercise.
I go back to work at the other job at 2 PM and work until about 6 PM. Since the time change, it is dark when I get home and it very much feels like the day is over. The first thing I immediately need to do is walk Opal again, and usually this is a longer walk to apologize for leaving her again in the afternoon. Then I figure out dinner, which is usually quick and unhealthy if I don’t feel like cooking, which is most days.
Lately I have been taking Opal to a day camp once a week, which I plan for days when I have more flexibility at work to take a little extra time for myself to write this November. On these days I can go to a cafe or take care of errands at lunch without needing to come home.
I feel rather fortunate to have been able to set my own schedule for the most part at both of my jobs. I just need to figure out how to make time for my personal projects. I think weekly goals might help and better organization, which is why I really want to pick up the bullet journal again this December and plan for 2020.
As you may recall, I had to move out of my parents’ house last week. Thankfully I had requested the week off of my part-time elections job, because last week was bonkers. Before I start explaining why, it might be important to note that the Saturday before I had spent the whole day applying for UT Austin jobs. It took me all day because I was tailoring all my cover letters to each specific job based on the information I was provided about the job listings. You know, as is typically recommended.
As silly as I know it sounds, I have tried to avoid applying for jobs that require a cover letter in the past. It always seemed like a lot of work to me when I have hoped my resume might speak for itself. Honestly, I could kick myself for being so clueless. In total I have already received three interview requests thus far from just the ten applications I completed last weekend.
I had the first two this week, one on Thursday and one on Friday. Thankfully they were both offered virtually! I was able to complete them in between work (at my tutoring gig), packing and moving boxes, and cleaning out my parents’ house. I only got good vibes from the first one, but I know from experience that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The third interview I have is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14th.
However, I also received word on Thursday morning that I have finally been offered the temporary part-time Office Assistant position which I applied for in April. It’s not official yet; they still for need me to take a drug test (which I have nothing to worry about, for the record). But I had already been debating whether I would take this position or not after learning in June that I would only be allowed to work about 25 hours a week.
Yes, there is a possibility it could become a full-time position after six months, but how can I know if I would really be happy there long-term? It’s in a criminal justice-type department, so they’re likely to be really serious and strict in the way I’ve not enjoyed at the elections office. They’ve not told me exactly what I’d be doing since I had the interview, if they did at all. I cannot remember much of the interview since I wasn’t too optimistic about my odds and did not think about it much afterward.
Now here’s where things start to get complicated. As the Fall 2019 semester is about to start, there are not many good options for apartments in Austin available anymore. I feel like the options are only going to continue to get worse, so I have been considering accepting the part-time job and keeping my fingers crossed that a full-time one will come through in the next couple of weeks. But if one doesn’t, I’ll need another part-time job to supplement my income if I am going to uproot myself from the two part-time jobs I still currently hold.
With that in mind, I applied to a writing tutor position at a community college nearby yesterday. It did not require a cover letter, but since I have gotten the hang of writing them I wrote something and I got a call a couple hours later! I now have an interview lined up for Wednesday, assuming that I am able to find out if the hours as an Office Assistant would be flexible enough to allow me to also work about 15–19 hours somewhere else.
I also realized as a consequence of needing to go to Austin so quickly, I would not have much time to do a proper final two weeks at either job. Thankfully, my presence at these two places is not absolutely essential. There is still enough time to find a replacement before things start to get busy this fall. But if I am going to need my supervisors’ references, I might run into a little bit of trouble. I have a feeling both will be understanding based on how well I’ve gotten to know them. I hate that I’m leaving them both so soon, but I need a full-time job and even if one is not immediately on the horizon just yet I will now be living where I want to finally start my life.
I know that I am moving to Austin this month no matter what, but it’s hard to look for apartments when you’re three hours away and do not know how much income you will have for living expenses. The common sense thing is to rent somewhere cheap, but most leases want you to commit for close to a year and I would rather move into a place that I know I would be happy living for at least a couple of years. I am ready to start making a place a home of my own.
So here are a few things that will be happening over the next week as I prepare to start a new job in Austin at the earliest around August 15th.
Turn in resignation letters to both of my job and complete some courtesy hours. I already submitted my resignation to the elections job, which is a job I hope I don’t need to keep working past this week since it’s now so far away and pays so little. At the writing tutor gig my supervisor is on vacation, so I hope he is able to check his email. Ideally I would like to work as much as possible this week at this job so I have one more really good paycheck to help me with my first month’s rent.
Finish fixing my car. I had to have my brakes fixed this weekend, because they were in really bad shape. I was also told I’d need to have four-wheel alignment and a CV axel (?) either fixed or replaced really soon or my tires might be in trouble…? The service repairman explained it all, but I am not good with cars so the technical talk went a little over my head! But I have worried about my car giving out on me, so I’ll pay for these things for the peace of mind.
Ask about hours at Office Assistant job on Monday. The person I am potentially interviewing with Wednesday has requested I find out what kind of hours I would be available to tutor.
Complete drug testing. That shouldn’t take long, but it needs to be done Monday as well so the processing is completed quickly and I am able to start that part-time job August 15th.
Look for an apartment! Once again, I am not sure what my budget could allow, but I do feel I find something right now so that I am not in a bind mid-August and worrying about a place to live on top of starting a new job.
Apply for more full-time jobs. There have been a few more listings pop up on the UT Austin job board and it might be a good idea to apply to a few more in case nothing I’ve already interviewed for comes through. I can also start to look for specific companies based in Austin that might have full-time openings right now as well.
My mind is still blown by all these developments this week. If I hadn’t been forced to move out of my parents house this week, I may not have considered gambling with my current job situation and used the time I can live with my aunt and uncle to save. But I can’t help but feel this is the right move. I am so ready to live on my own and officially start my professional life. Moving is not fun, so I feel like if I can avoid unpacking right now just to pack up again in a month or two it will be worth it.
I will continue to work the blog this month whenever I can! I’ve been doing some blog maintenance while I think about what I want to produce. I hope I’ll be able to breathe new life into this blog this month. If you poke around, you may discover a few changes I’ve already made and make guesses as to where my blog focus will be once I am able to properly jump back into it next month if not sooner.
I decided on Tuesday that it was time to work out my summer plans. I don’t what you may have gathered about me if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, but I like to make plans. I like knowing what to expect and what I should prioritize with my free time. This year has been trying, because I have felt like I’m driving slowly down an isolated forest road with a light fog. I haven’t had a clear idea of what summer would be like after working the 2018-2019 school year.
Thankfully the seeds I’ve been planting over winter and spring have finally begun to sprout in the form of job opportunities and work experience! Just last week I was contacted about an interview I had thought at the time would lead to nothing and a job I had forgotten was even a possibility. It’s so frustrating that it takes so long for good jobs to become available!
Before I talk creative plans on the blog, I felt like I needed to provide this insight into my life.
A lot of this post was written in a blog post tentatively titled My Summer Goals. I realized that I had a lengthy update and it might be better to break it up into two posts, starting with an update on my job situation at the moment. I mentioned last month that I had just started an office job at our county elections office, but there have been recent developments of note that I wanted to share while they’re still fresh!
Last week two things happened. First, I received an email from an office specialist at a place where I interviewed via Skype in May. It was for an office assistant position in Austin. I hadn’t been confident the interview went well as it was really formal with no extra chit chat. Anyway this woman emailed me inquiring if I was still interested in that position. I said “Yes!” thinking it meant I had the job. No, not quite yet. I was just being informed that my application would be moved to the next stage of the process if I consented to a background check, reference contacting, fingerprinting, etc. So that all happened over the last few days.
On Monday I visited Austin, which is about two-and-a-half hours away, for a day trip with my parents to fill out some paperwork in the office. It was a really pleasant drive and a nice day overall, even though it rained. I filled out some paperwork for an impending background check and signed some legal forms making sure I was aware the position was dependent on a grant and would be temporary (six months) and I’d work less than 29 hours per week. Yes, that was all clear. I was out in about 45 minutes and won’t know if I got it until August (really).
I have no idea if I would actually be happy at that job, but I do now know I would love to live in Austin! I’m going to start applying exclusively in Austin, unless I stumble upon something really that sounds really magical nearby. I’m not a fan of the climate in Houston, so I’m not eager to find any more reasons to stay. However, I do know now that it would be possible for me to stay on my own in Houston once my parents leave.
The second thing that happened last week is I was finally called by our local community college about a writing tutor position I had applied for back in January! My interview was Tuesday morning, and after a really casual chat with just a few questions about my resume, I was hired on the spot. I need to talk to one more person, but it sounds like it’s in the bag! The pay is really good because I have a Master’s degree! I’ll be making about as much money there with reduced hours (less than 20) than I would at the elections office (currently 24 hours). Plus it will look great for future writing/academia jobs!
My mom thinks I should stay here for a year because it’s cheap and would be good experience, but I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if I get the Austin job. I think I would be able to find another job in the city, maybe even a full-time one.
The Current Plan
Juggle my two Houston-area jobs for the summer and save up. I recently changed my student loan to income-based repayment plan so my new monthly payment is like nothing, but I do want to continue making regular payments while I can so that the interest doesn’t keep compounding.
I also want to be able to save money for future living expenses. Some apartments I’ve looked at require a monthly salary of three times the rent, which would be impossible for me until I’m a full-time employee most likely. All I can really do right now is save so that I have a few months rent set aside in case I am ever stuck in a lease without a job.
I’ve not had a lot of money in my accounts since February, so I’m hoping that if I do stay in this area for my two new jobs that I will not need to spend too much on living expenses. I’m very fortunate that I have my aunt somewhat close by who I could probably rely upon while I build up a nest egg.
Look for college/writing jobs in Austin. I have a lot more confidence that I may be able to find a job in writing after being a college writing tutor, so I want to really find out what is possible and honing my skills toward my interests. I feel like I’ve been so open anything that I’ve been too passive in waiting for the right things to come my way. Now I feel like I’ve gotten the kick I needed to take the idea of a career in writing more seriously.
I also want to start exclusively applying for jobs in Austin because I love the area and know that there would be a lot more for me to experience with less travel or personal effort required to partake. At heart I’m a lazy person, and I know that putting myself where things are happening is the best chance I have to live life to its fullest.
Because of my new job, I may be able to squeeze out more writing-related content like I originally anticipated when I started my blog while still in college. I always wanted to give research project tips and paper writing advice, but once I was out of school it felt too late. Maybe I’ll have study tips that intersect with my bujo content. I also want to continue to write about my job search journey, which will hopefully be helpful to any other English majors out there so they don’t have all the problems I’ve had post-grad.
Now I feel like I’m ready to talk definitively about my plans for the summer. I am determined to make the most of this time in my life.