This is the first in a new “What’s Next” series. In upcoming posts, I’ll share the biggest, life-changing lesson I took away from Australia and how it’s impacted my first five months back in the USA — and of course in the months to come.
There’s No Place Like Oz is not my first blog. I used to write about my travels on another site (with maybe 5 family members and friends reading!). Before that, I rambled on a LiveJournal account almost daily about life after college graduation, my first job, and eventually graduate school. I’ve always been a story teller (sounds nicer than rambler, yeah?), and I suppose I eventually wanted to share my stories with a wider audience than my family and best friends who had probably heard them repeatedly. Bless you all ♥.
In addition to the years invested in sharing and documenting my experiences in blogs, I always gave my academic writing a significant amount of time and effort. I agonized over every paper, trying to find the perfect words. I hated timed essays — I wanted time to develop an outline, think through my points carefully, and present them as clearly as possible (not concisely, perhaps, but clearly). Thankfully, over the years I learned to trust the academic voice I’d developed and by graduate school I could write a stellar 20-page paper in one go over the course of a few hours.
I suppose all of this is to say that I’ve always enjoyed writing in one way or another. I wasn’t the creative type, but I could write an academic paper like a champ and the ISFJ (MBTI type) loves reflecting on experiences and recording memories through blogs.
In my first five months home, I’ve been given a couple of opportunities to write in new ways. Both tap into my interest in international experiences and travel, and I am really thankful for and excited about both.
Developing “work abroad” content for a career services site
Before I left for Australia, I was known as the go-to career counselor for undergraduates who wanted to learn about teaching, volunteering, interning, and working abroad. No, I wasn’t a true expert, but I was passionate about finding resources for students and helping them explore international opportunities.
When I returned to Virginia, I met with a former colleague for coffee, and we chatted about where life might take me next. Two months later, she contacted me to see if I would be interested in a short-term contract, developing a “Global Opportunities” section for her team’s career services office. They had found themselves temporarily short-staffed and wanted the new section of the website up and running by the beginning of the academic year. I gladly took it on.
While she had a vision for the site and some notes, she encouraged me to make it my own and contribute what I knew was important. Over the course of several weeks, I researched a variety of topics and wrote numerous pages of content. Some days I drove to the university to work in an office, and other days I worked from home. I loved having that sort of flexibility.
How fortunate am I that I could combine my skills and experiences as a career counselor AND a career breaker/work & holiday maker in one writing project?! The content is currently in the hands of IT colleagues and will be live for our university’s students soon.
Working with HerPackingList.com founder Brooke as the site’s contributing author
Toward the end of the content development job above, Brooke introduced the possibility of joining her to write for HerPackingList.com, a website she developed that’s geared toward the female traveler.
What I’ve learned in my new writing projects
I’m learning to write for another person’s vision and product. I’ve written for professors, and I write my own blog posts, but creating content for another person’s website is different — I feel an extra responsibility (in a good way) to contribute what they hope for and ask of me.
Having the opportunity to work remotely is affirming that short-term contracts and remote work are the types of experiences I want to pursue (part of that big lesson I mentioned learning in Oz).
The career services writing project has come to a close, and I hope to supplement my current part-time career counseling position and writing with HPL with additional short-term and/or remote projects in the weeks and months to come. If something crosses your path and you think of me, I’d love to learn about it.