New Leaf New York: From Pharma to Farm

Unemployment ain’t nothin’ but a number
November 6, 2008, 1:41 pm
Filed under: From Pharma to Farm | Tags: , , ,

Today, the AP is reporting that the government will release a report tomorrow showing that over 200,000 Americans lost their jobs in October, with a record high total of current jobless claims: the highest in 25 years.  And: I’m one of them.

Yes, the job I thought might be the “dream job,” doing exactly, precisely what I wanted to do — working for a nonprofit on sustainable agriculture and local food issues, something I wasn’t sure I could actually discuss on this blog — is no longer mine.  Due to the economic crisis, specifically the giant market flops that occurred in September, two of the organization’s major donors pulled out.  The management had no choice but to let a third of its staff go; October 6th was my last day.

I was only there for two months, but I feel I learned a lot.  I really wanted to continue my work there, of course.  I was learning so much about sustainable ag and was so excited to dive in and get some important work done.  Alas, it was not to be.  But I did write my first grant, and work directly with farmers across the country, both of which were valuable experiences.

So, I’ve been looking for work for a month now, and still haven’t received any unemployment benefits.  I’m down to almost nothing.  Moths are flying out of my wallet.  I’m crossing my fingers that the gubmint cheddar will come in this week; I think I’ve finally gotten my Department of Labor representative connected with my former employer, and they should be able to iron out the remaining details quickly.  I hope. Continue reading


Wish granted
August 7, 2008, 11:25 am
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Well then!  I must explain what became of my quandary.  It was nerve-wracking for about a day, but I slept on it — and on Friday afternoon I called the executive director of the organization that wanted me really badly, wrangled my salary up a bit, and officially accepted their offer!

I cannot fully explain in conventional written language exactly how awesomely excited and totally psyched I am about this development.  I start on Monday and it cannot come soon enough.  I actually thought I was going to be starting early this week, so I was a little disappointed when I heard it wouldn’t be until next week…but I suppose it’s given me a little more time to enjoy my summer vacation, doing fun things like waiting for two hours at the DMV (“License X-Press,” it’s called — wishful thinking, I say) to finally exchange my Ohio license for a New York one, going to the post office and buying laundry detergent.

I wish I could be more specific, because I’ve never been so proud and excited about a job, but again, I have to keep schtum on a lot of the details.  Here’s the interesting part, in terms of the life of this blog: it was supposed to “chronicle my quest” to find a job in sustainable agriculture and local food.  Well, I found it.  I thought I would be taking a sort of “baby step” job doing PR for an environmentally conscious client or firm, for instance, to gain experience in the field.  But I didn’t even have to do that!  What I wanted was right there for me, and I grabbed it.  I’m almost pinching myself because I didn’t think it would happen so quickly and so easily — but it did. Continue reading

Quite a quandary
July 31, 2008, 5:00 pm
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It’s been a 48-hour whirlwind.  I’ve been struggling with exactly how much I can say about my job search, because now I’m really in the thick of the interviewing process.  This is not an anonymous blog; it is simply not polite to be blowing up spots all over the dang place.  So, I can’t be too specific, but I will say that I’m in an interesting situation right now!

I’ve been offered a position with a nonprofit organization doing what most closely approximates my dream job at this point in time, and yes, it is a giant cut in pay from what I’ve been used to in the very-for-profit world of Big Pharma.  But there are other perks, like, oh, I don’t know, actually enjoying what I do for a living and not wanting to strangle others or myself.  It’s a tough decision, though, because I’m still waiting to hear from another opportunity about the next step in their interview process, and I don’t want to totally close the door on them; they’re a little more tangential to my interests, but they will (likely) pay a little better, and they have better benefits.

My gut is telling me to take the offer since it’s there for me, and oh, did I mention, they do incredible work that I admire greatly?   And did I mention that the two people I interviewed with have now both called me today to reiterate how much they want me to join their team?  And, they said that they would consider inching up the salary, as well — which is much appreciated and yes, definitely one of the only things that’s causing me to hesitate.

The other is… I’m not sure if they offer dental insurance, and I totally forgot to ask earlier today.

The big search
July 28, 2008, 3:18 pm
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I’m deep in the midst of my serious job search.  I admit I took the first month off from the rat race entirely — a true summer vacation was exactly what my brain needed.  I’m still enjoying it, of course, but now with the added anxiety of cover letters, interviews and an utter lack of income.

I’m still not completely certain how it’s all going to turn out, but I know my eventual goal is work in some capacity with local, sustainable food systems and their impact on local economies, public health and the environment.  Whether to approach that from an environmental, food, nonprofit, volunteer or educational point of view is my main concern, but not really knowing what’s “best,” I’m working on it from all angles.

After three weeks in total freak-out mode (I’m a little paranoid, but I feel I have to be, lest my nonchalance backfire), scouring Monster, Idealist, and Craigslist, plus my own company-specific research, I finally got a bite in the form of a phone interview for a nonprofit organization concerned with sustainable land use.  Just a screening tool, I’m sure, to ensure I’m not crazy, but it was a huge encouragement.   And just when I thought I had been waiting too long for a new development, I got an email from them this morning requesting an in-person interview.  Thank goodness.

And lo, when it rains, it pours.  Continue reading