“When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.”
― C.S. Lewis
Tomorrow marks the beginning of week 5. Yes, week 5 of my new job. *happy dance*. Yes fam, it finally happened. Sis got a new job and in the most unexpected way ever. Before I get into the details of how it happened, let’s take a walk down memory lane. Over the last few years, it feels like I’ve been in this unending cycle of need a job – find a job – contract ends – rinse and repeat. Does going through this cycle repeatedly get any easier? Yes and No. Yes, because over the years, I have learned to not let the disappointment that comes with negative responses and non-responses make me think less of myself. I know that I have value to offer any organization that I end up with because I have continuously developed my skill set and each on-the-job experience prepares me for the next one.
However, it also doesn’t get easier as the job-hunting process takes a toll on you – mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. It is anxiety-inducing, stressful, nerve-wracking, and exciting all at the same time. And this time around, it was no different. I felt all the emotions and coupled with the fact that we are in the middle of a global pandemic (where people are being laid off), I came to almost despairing a few times. Nevertheless, I got my breakthrough unexpectedly. I shared a bit about this round of job hunting earlier this year where all my applications were met with a deafening silence. To keep myself occupied, I enrolled in the Motherland Mogul Insider Program led by She Leads Africa. It was the best money I spent this year. Besides the knowledge I gleaned from the different course offerings, I gained new like-minded friends. I also spent some time brushing up on my writing and editing skills, read books that had been sitting on my bedside table for a while, and attended 2 networking programs (before Rona had us indoors). All this to say, I did other things alongside applying for jobs and I think that helped keep me sane.
My break came in February, when a former and current colleague told me about my current position and forwarded my CV with a stellar recommendation. This might sound silly, but I hesitated when she reached out to me because the position is not in the health field (MPH graduate here). Hear me out for a second. I have wanted to be in the health field forever—first it was as a medical doctor and then later as a public health practitioner (the details of which I’m still trying to figure out). All the positions I’ve held since getting my MPH 5 years ago have been in public health and I have loved every single minute of it. So, to make a switch to a different sector gave me palpitations. Within 5 minutes of reading her message, I had already come up with 101 reasons it wouldn’t work out. Fortunately, I ignored all those reasons and said “Sure, why not?” and send off that CV. After 3+ months of assessments and interviews, I was finally offered the position. There were so many times during this process I thought I would not get the job. The most memorable was right after completing the assessment. I kid you not, I thought I had failed. I don’t remember the last time I found an assessment to be so tough. Sis was praying and on Google the entire time looking up definitions, trying to read up on the topic just to understand the questions before attempting to answer them. It was rough. Best/Worst part of this was that after submitting the assessment, I didn’t hear from them for about 3 weeks. At this point I was convinced I had done so poorly that they didn’t know how to break the news to me, so they chose silence instead. LOL. Yes, I know, in retrospect, maybe I was being a tad dramatic. But that’s how I felt. Several times during the process, I found myself so afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle the responsibilities of the position even if I were fortunate enough to get it. I eventually had to preach a mini-sermon to myself – if this is the door God opens for me, He wasn’t going to leave me at the doorway and wave goodbye. Best believe He was going to walk me through that door and sit right by my side to help me accomplish everything I needed to. And not just the bare minimum but to excel and flourish. It got me thinking about the number of times I may have turned down an opportunity due to fear. I almost let my fear of doing something new outweigh my need for a new job.
I am now going into week 5 and it’s been an amazing experience so far. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I’ve proven to myself that I’m up to the task. I have been able to accomplish every single assignment I’ve been given so far. It might take a while before I feel I’m on top of things but that’s okay. I’m going to give myself grace to keep learning and to keep asking questions. I’m giving myself permission to fumble every now and then. All that matters is I keep moving forward. This has been a lengthy post but before I wrap up, there are a few things I want to share with you especially those who are job hunting.
- Networking is key. Building relationships are so important. Obviously, the intent shouldn’t be to form a relationship just for what you can get out of it. Those never go far. By developing a genuine interest in those around you, you end up gaining so much more than you could imagine. In addition to the colleague who told me about this job, I had at least 3 other former colleagues who saw job ads (after I got this position) and called me because I was the first person they thought of and they would put in a good word for me if I decided to apply. I was humbled that they would think of me out of all our other colleagues who would be just as qualified if not more than I was for the positions they’d seen.
- Step out of your comfort zone. This is a hard one for me. I’m an introvert and I dislike being uncomfortable. I like to play it safe. I prefer to have a plan. I don’t do spontaneity. We’ve all seen the posts, read the books that say growth happens outside the comfort zone but that doesn’t make it easier to accept. I mean there are levels to this thing. I thought I had stepped out of my comfort zone in my last position by applying for a job that required more experience and skills than I could claim. However, this experience taught me that if I was serious about learning and growing and making an impact, I better be prepared to get even more uncomfortable. So, this is me encouraging you to go for it. Apply for that position. Sign up for that course. Book that trip (post Rona, of course). The thing that feels so scary right now, just do it. That curveball life has thrown you, embrace it. Ask yourself what you can learn from it. How can you use this experience to improve yourself?
- Learn to be your biggest cheerleader. Not everyone will understand your vision and the decisions you make about your life, career, relationships etc. And even fewer will support and encourage you the way you expect them to but that shouldn’t stop you from being your own hypewoman/man. You should be your biggest fan. Be proud of who you are today and excited for who you will be tomorrow. Extend the same grace to yourself as you do others.
That’s all for today! Hope you’re staying safe.