This past weekend, I took part in an intensive three-day social media “boot camp” at Ryerson University. The workshop was the last of four work/writing-related events I attended over the past month, as part of my post-downsizing journey.
Exactly a month ago, September 22, I began with Toronto’s Word on the Street festival, where I attended half a dozen back-to-back workshops offered by the Humber School for Writers. Next was a Canadian Media Guild panel discussion for freelance journalists, then a JVS job fair.
I didn’t seek out any of these events. I saw a newspaper ad for Word on the Street, and happened to notice the writing workshops being offered there. The panel discussion was announced on LinkedIn, and a Ryerson workshop – not the one I ended up going to – was also announced on LinkedIn, leading me in a roundabout way to the one I attended. I learned about the job fair from an email.
I like that serendipity played a role in my finding these events, and I like that they all took place within a month. It was significant for me to get out of my dining room/home office and away from my computer screen.
I left my job four months ago not knowing what was next, but doing my best to be open to opportunities, and pursuing the ones that present themselves and also “feel right.”
Now that my calendar has cleared for at least the next few weeks, I think it’s time to consolidate and implement what I’ve learned over the past month.
It’s a long time since I’ve had to look for a job. Before I joined The Canadian Jewish News in the early 1990s, I was a stay-at-home mom hoping to find time to write the occasional freelance article.
To be honest, serendipity had a lot to do with my career path. “Full-time staff reporter” wasn’t a job I applied for, or even one I thought I’d be able to fit into my life. I had written a total of four freelance articles for The CJN over a period of several years when I heard then-editor Patricia Rucker speak at my synagogue. I approached her after her talk, and she invited me to send her a copy of my CV. One thing led to another. I was asked to cover an event, then a second one. I became a regular freelancer for the paper, then a once-a-week proofreader as well. A reporter job became available, and it provided me not only with work I loved, but the flexibility to carpool my kids and be available for them when they needed me, as long as I covered some weeknight and Sunday events.
That’s why I was intrigued by a quote in a recent Toronto Star article by Richard Ouzounian. He wrote about Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester on the TV hit Glee:
“Ask Lynch where she wants her career to go next, however, and the answer is surprising.
‘I don’t make lists. I don’t have aspirations. It’s served me well. I do all the footwork and then I allow the universe to roll in at my feet. I make good decisions when they’re offered to me, but I don’t go looking for them.’ ”
Lynch’s philosophy resonated with me. I’m brushing up my resume and looking for work, but I’m also hoping to create a bit of serendipity – networking, and reminding myself to stay open to possibilities.