How I Got My Dream Job By Daring To Be Vulnerable

My Dream Job

For the past couple of years, as many of your know, I’ve been battling to find permanent work here in Denmark after I lost my job in 2012. I’ve had some temporary and freelance work since then, and completed a couple of internships, but none of these leads turned into the long term position I needed to secure our home. This has been the first time I’ve really known what unemployment, and the threat of losing everything at any moment, was like.

I reached a point where I lost hope of finding a good company and a job I enjoyed, I just wanted something that took advantage of my technical skills and paid the bills. My Job Center reached a point where they wanted me to take any job, such as bagging bread in the supermarket, or cleaning in hotels when I would be on my feet all day, which is not great when that causes you nerve pain. They didn’t care if I could pay the bills they just wanted my case closed. I wondered if I was finally being thrown on the scrap heap; that I had passed my peak and should be grateful for anything.

At the end of 2013 however I lucked out and managed to get a temporary job as an in-house software developer to cover an employee whilst they were receiving treatment at a hospital. As I was willing to start will little notice, and I happened to know someone at the company, I managed to squeeze my foot in the door. I was told from the start that they wanted to expand their development team and after 6 months it was very likely the job would become permanent. However by the time we reached May 2014 the funds for the position had dried up after two major clients slashed their budgets. So I was back to being unemployed again.

By then I had noticed some of the differences in the Danish job market, compared to Britain, I knew I had to try another tactic if I was going to keep this spell of unemployment short. The answer came to me on the 20th of June 2014 at the Forge 2 conference in Copenhagen when I saw a talk from Laura Jul.

Laura Jul at forge 2

Laura talked about her employment issues: being trapped in a 80 hour work week and her employers dared to ask for even more of her time. She talked about how this routine equated to having no life beyond work and sleep, and the toll it took on her well being. At the end of the talk Laura described how she found her new job, when she posted her story online – detailing what kind of position and company she was looking for, as she had no time to job search. After being flooded with offers Laura found a home at Rise Digital, where they aim for a 30 hour work week to promote a good work-life balance. Laura Jul’s prevailing message though, that has stuck with me ever since, is how important it is to dare to be vulnerable; to put yourself out there and go for what you want. This was shortly followed by an announcement that they needed more web developers at her new company.

In that moment I knew that I had to apply. I spent a week thinking about how I was going to write my own employment story to accompany my application. In the end I wrote about being fired due to sickness, after working 3 years for a company; how I found, once I was better, that my verbal Danish skills proved a huge barrier to work. My Danish lessons had been de-funded part way through a module by the kommune, the after-effects of which caused me to start and stop my lessons with three different schools. I talked about my fears of losing the house, my first impression of being unemployed – and my overwhelming desire to work with everyone at Rise Digital. They were exactly what I was looking for.

I realised right then how badly I needed to tell my story to someone outside my inner circle. I had been holding myself in reserve, in an attempt to avoid showing the parts of myself that might affect my job prospects. It had not occurred to me that this risk is what a company might be looking for. Usually these topics are the kind of things that get your CV tossed in the bin, no matter how good it is. I had been so used to trying to fit the mould all the advisers had been trying to squeeze me into for the past year that I felt I was not free to be myself. When I finally wrote my personal story and sent it to Laura it was an amazing release. I knew then it was necessary to dare to be vulnerable, if for no other reason than to be sane with it all. Within the week I was hired after just one interview.

Rise Digital

One of the things I liked about the position was that it helped to round out my resume with more front-end work; as I have specialised in back-end development over the years. Instead of all my hard work being inaccessible without a valid login, it was great to finally develop websites I could show to other people (see: CarlsbergForFan & GreenGo).

I wish I could say that was the end of the story. Until a couple of weeks ago this was roughly where I was going to stop this post, but the truth is that after a couple of months I was unfortunately let go. They needed someone with more front-end skills; however, we did discuss the possibility of some freelance back-end work in the future. When they told me that my permanent contract was going to end I had to face the reality that Hermit Studio was at risk again.

During that emotional roller-coaster ride, and the days following, I reflected on the crossroads that I found myself in, what was and wasn’t working, and two things stood out: the idea of becoming a mentor, and the idea of becoming a full-time freelancer. It felt like it was finally time to risk the transition from permanent to contract work.

It occurred to me that maybe the reason I was having such a hard time was because I had to create the job I was looking for. I had been holding back for fear of not making enough to cover the bills from month to month with irregular freelancing, but since I couldn’t rely on permanent work either right now I had little left to lose.

When I considered becoming a mentor, after watching a video online that brought up the topic, I felt energised and knew intuitively that it was worth exploring. I love to help people, and I have always found ways to express this during my schooling and career. With 15 years experience in web development I liked the idea of sharing it through pair-programming, code reviews, tutoring, and generally guiding other developers online.

In the process of researching on the Internet I came across codementor by accident, and found myself drawn in. It didn’t take long before I felt compelled to apply, daring to take the next step on my journey to find my dream job. Rise had been an important step, and although it did not work out in the way I had hoped, it was as essential a part of the tapestry of my life as any other experience. Now it is time to weave a new path and I am truly excited to see where it leads…

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” – Arthur Ashe

Niamh Brown at codementor

Do you need a Code Mentor? Then make my day! I can help you with: PHP – SQL – .NET – HTML – CSS – JavaScript – MySQL – C# – jQuery – WordPress

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New Blog Post: What a Little Kindness Will Do…

Hej Folks,

I had a little incident this week that moved me so I decided to write about it in my blog For The Hole Inside Everyone. The post is called ‘What a Little Kindness Will Do‘ and it’s about how little things can get under our skin or turn our day around completely.

Enjoy 🙂

Niamh Brown

http://www.niamhbrown.com

So you want to learn Danish…

Hej Folks!

Well I’m back. I realise it’s been a year since i posted anything on my news blog. This is mostly because I’ve been spending my free time learning Danish and as I still have a looong way to go it will dominate my spare time considerably. However, for now I have something I can report!

I’ve started a Danish Language Link Exchange, called Dansk Link (Danish Link). The Dansk Link goal is to be an exchange of free online danish language information relevant to migrants who have moved to Denmark or those just interested in learning Danish. Dansk Link is also open to contributions in the form of links to online resources posted in comments.

Feel free to use it, share it and if you have any contributions feel free to post them. Enjoy! 😀

Niamh

http://www.niamhbrown.com

New Blog Post: Start the Year 2010

Hey Again,

Well it’s 2010, a new year, a new decade. After doing my Close the Year 2009 yesterday I’ve now done my intentions or resolutions for 2010, what I’m aiming for and what I would like to see happen over the course of the next year.

My post is on my blog For The Hole Inside Everyone and it’s called Start the Year: Resolutions 2010.

Hope you had a great time last night!

Peace, Niamh xxx

http://www.niamhbrown.com http://www.niamhstudios.com

New Blog Post: Close the Year 2009

Hej Folks,

GODT NYTAAR! / HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’ve just published my annual Close the Year review for 2009. This is something I began last year after I started publishing my resolutions in 2007. It was a nice way to look over the year and see what I’ve achieved and what I want to let go of. I can quiet easily forget the things I’ve accomplished so this is a way for me to remind myself of the good I’ve done in the year.

You can see my review at my blog For The Hole Inside Everyone called: Close the Year: Review 2009

Have a great time tonight, I’m waiting for the ring of fireworks to start around us (last time then went on until about 1am!)

Peace, Niamh Brown xxx

http://www.niamhbrown.com http://www.niamhstudios.com

Summer Holiday News: Danish, Writing and Poker Results

Hi Everyone!

I realise it been a while since I said anything here but as I said in my last post the Danish class routine really did take up all my spare time and energy. I finished my first module ‘part’ on Wednesday the 24th and got my exam results. I got 88% with a 70% threshold to pass! I’m well please with myself, especially after I was forced to miss two classes due to ill health and became almost convinced I was too far behind.

I’m on my only paid weeks vacation now and I’m resting all I can. (Denmark have this retroactive central holiday scheme where you have to be in the system for a year before you can collect holiday pay, but my employers also give you an extra week’s paid holiday too)

I got my feedback from my entry into the ‘Writers of the Future’ competition. I didn’t win a place unfortunately, basically it didn’t fit the target demographic/style (something I should have researched more anyway) plus they said the science fiction element has to be obvious in the first page or two of the story and with this one it was very much in the background, used in a technological manner. The story itself was about a disease gone to an extreme in the future, but the way it was done I could see their point. So that’s fair enough. It is a story that does straddle the boundaries of SF but it’s definitely fiction.

I think a part of me has realised this month that although I’ve definitely got the writers bug and will probably write all my life, I don’t think it something I can replace my IT career with any time soon. I suspect it will always be a second and not a primary activity, but in a way that good for the writing. This mentality has taken the pressure off me a bit and it’s been nice to have a break from it for a little while. I’ve decided I’ll probably stick to writing things I find interesting and spend less of my precious time doing commercial pieces, but I’ll see how it goes. I’m really planning to write when I’m enthusiastic about something instead of forcing my style and tone into work that would fit a career move.

As for poker I’ve started playing with a few friend at work for fun. So far I haven’t got heads up but last time I burst on the bubble and played much better than before. It really is a different game than playing on the internet but it is fun and you can pick up and give away information much easier.

Also the last two weekends I played the Scandinavian freeroll’s online and last week came in 10th place (out of 600-700 players) and last night I came in 2nd out of 635 players!!!! This won me a total of $14 for no investment. This really has given me a boost and shown me that I am capable of being a good poker player.

Anyway that’s all the news I have right now. I hope you are also having a nice summer wherever you are.

Take care, Niamh xxx

http://www.niamhbrown.com http://www.niamhstudios.com

Attending Danish Lessons and Losing My Legs

Hi Everyone,

I haven’t been active recently as I’ve been in a low energy state for a couple of weeks. I also began my Danish classes and I’ve been to two already. I can say a few things like Hvor kommer du fra? (Where do you come from) and Jeg hedder Niamh (My name is Niamh) and count to 20.

My ankles finally gave in again this week. I’m thinking about getting some insoles to support the arches of my feet as they are really flat now and I can’t help thinking this is pulling on my leg muscles in other ways. I’ve been thankfully off work the end of this week due to public holidays so I’m at least getting a chance to rest up. The extra journey from work to the my classroom and back again isn’t long but it’s enough that going twice this week set it off again.

It’s weird being 30 but thinking about the world as if I’m collecting my pension. Every act I do has to be thought through carefully in order to workout if I can do it and how. Just today I had to go to the shop as there was nothing in the house, I had to rest my ankles enough before hand so they could cope with being on my feet long enough to go round a store. It’s the same round the house, sit down do a bit of house work, sit down do a bit more.

It’s not that I can’t accept it, god knows I’ve had long enough to get used to the idea, but only 5 years ago I didn’t need a cane and now I use it every day and often indoors. It makes me wonder how my legs will be in another 5 or 10 years. Last year we even talked about a wheelchair once when I couldn’t cope walking round one of the billions of Ikeas here.

Anyway I don’t want to let this run on as whatever happens is completely out of my control, but it’s been floating around my head so of course it comes out in my writing. However I suspect that for the next 6-7 weeks or so my writing output will be close to nothing as, if this week is anything to go by, I will need to transfer that time and energy into my class. So if the website is a bit low on activity that is why.

Anyway I hope you enjoy your weekend,

Peace, Niamh xxx

http://www.niamhbrown.com http://www.niamhstudios.com