Phil Gyford


Thursday 16 October 2003

PreviousIndexNext Changing jobs

Last week the Guardian had a special report on changing jobs. Handy if you need inspiration. Do it!

I love to hear about people changing careers, particularly when they’re giving up something computer-centric for something a little more physically varied. Whether they’re a friend of mine — Lotti giving up running websites for landscape gardening, Mac going to college to study product design — or a stranger — Polly Sprenger leaving net reporting behind for cabinet making or a friend of my sister’s giving up website copy writing in favour of designing stage sets.

I always imagined, and hoped, that I’d never settle into doing one thing for too long, and perhaps other people making the break helps me realise it’s always possible. Even as I slide deeper into doing nothing but “web stuff” (which I’d never want to give up entirely). You’re never learning so much so fast as when you start something new, and I often find myself thinking “it’d be great to try that…” Kitchen Confidential made me want to be a chef (even though he makes it sound like hell), and Adventures in the Screen Trade is making me want to write movies (even though he makes it sound like hell).

Making the switch gets harder and harder once you settle into the world of mortgages, pensions, and (for some) children. But we’re still young (yes, even you), and there’s always time… G’waan, change jobs and make me feel better!


It's so good to hear other people say this, and I think it's a particular 'Englishness' that makes us feel otherwise. We're so modest in what we do (general hugely wide sweeping statement) in this country and begrudgingly I blame the weather. yes, I do. Having just come back from 12 months without a winter I was full of beans and drive and all that stuff. I'd hardly touched a computer and spending so much time outside getting dirty changes you. Now I'm back the necessities of life have made me sit once again behind a desk facing a screen under the air conditioning, and the mind is starting to get all cosy again. I stare at the photographs again and think, not for long ;o)

Posted by Lawrence on 16 October 2003, 6:42 pm | Link

Well, I used to work as a sub-editor/proofreader (except for the year after I got married, when I was waiting for a British work permit), but then the project I was working on lost its funding, I found I hadn't been in the UK long enough to qualify for jobseeker's allowance, and in a panic I took the first job that came along. Now I do admin for a mortgage company and I hate it.

I'd dearly love to change jobs again -- at the end of each working day, I can measure precisely how much closer I am to a nervous breakdown. But I've only been with this company for 18 months, six of them as a temp, and I'm worried about being accused of job-hopping (especially as the last job, the one that lost its funding, only lasted seven months, and the year of unemployment was just before that).

I'm also doing a part-time course in theology, with a view to getting a masters' and possibly a doctorate, so that might mean another career change in a few years' time. I don't think theology is a booming field, though.

Posted by Laura Brown on 17 October 2003, 9:08 pm | Link

Sadly, I've already snapped my pencil and changed careers twice before. Once to give up corporate IT and become a popstar, and a second time to give up *trying* to be a popstar and move into new media.

And here I am with children on the way, mighty mortgage dangling over my head, and it's still kind of tempting.

How many lives do I get?

Posted by Tom Dolan on 20 October 2003, 6:18 pm | Link

I do think there's a British mindset of 'you've made your choice, so you'll bloody well stick with it and suffer if necessary.' This applies to jobs, relationships, and even the teams we support. (Though the latter, I think, is to be celebrated.) Being in the US right now, you get this chop-and-change sense of flexibility, which is liberating on the one hand, but also unnerving. (And is actually inaccurate, as I've seen from this weekend's Southern Mountains Craft Fair...)

Then again, I think that lots of us fell into the web business by accident -- in fact, fell into the web before it was a business, with job titles and hierarchies and the trappings of 'business' -- which is a little different to being sent down a mine or into a steel mill at 16. In that sense, we've been winging it for... what, nearly a decade now? Which means that we're probably capable of winging it in other careers, too. Or, even better, learning well-established skills, after years of having, to some extent, to create the skills that we learn.

Posted by nick on 20 October 2003, 7:31 pm | Link

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