Despair settling in – desolation cold and hollow in my belly. It doesn’t get easier to hear rejection. Daytime has become a fruitless search through jobs listings in a myriad of places. Following a decade long break from the workforce attempting to establish a small business, circumstances were increasingly showing me that I needed to return to it.
I am well educated, with a degree in electronic engineering and a degree in information technology gained after 5 years of study at the Queensland University of Technology. Prior to that, I worked for 20 years as a registered nurse in an operating theatre in Queensland, Australia.
Following graduation from university, I spent 10 years working as a system and network engineer in the corporate sector. In this capacity, I built and maintained machines worth millions. Kept them running because an hour of downtime could cost clients millions of dollars.
Looking for work 10 years later, I find that technology has marched inexorably onward. Time is relative, and six months is a long time in the information technology arena. 10 years – that’s a millennium.
The systems I built, the platforms that were my familiar friends, all vanished into the realms of history. All the writing I had done – user manuals, installation guides, maintenance manuals- all done without a thought that I might need them as proof of what I was capable of – all compiled and left in-house, most likely landfill by now.
It was disheartening, to say the least, to realize that I am now only qualified to work at the checkout. Even my medical background amounted to nothing.
It seems that in the local employment scene, unless you have completed a course, and can present a certificate for the area you are looking for work, there is very little hope of consideration for a position.
I have applied for dozens of jobs, and thus far all have resulted in rejection. Some you hear back from “Thank you for your application, unfortunately, this time you were not successful…” but most resulted in no response at all. That is the norm these days, it seems, so if this is you, too, remember you send your application off into a deep dark hole never to be heard from again!
There is something about rejection. It can be soul destroying, drilling a hole into the psyche, cold and desolate. How can this be? On paper I am highly desirable – I thought, anyway. But, it turns now, that no, no I’m not. So, I have re-framed the negative energy of rejection into something more workable, something more helpful.
I left the concrete world and spring-boarded into cyberspace, and I have found that there lies in the heart of the internet, an immense mountain of work. An IMMENSE mountain of work. It was a surprise to me. There are jobs that I have never even heard of, and jobs that even someone like me can apply for, and perhaps even get.
I discovered I can type, pretty well actually. Doing a test, I found I can type 60-70 words/min. Happy Dance!!
The door opened a sliver for me, a glimmer of hope. Jobs like transcription, medical transcribing, blog writing, freelance technical writing, freelance research …. I could write for people in the US, the UK, even the Philippines or anywhere really. Anywhere strong, confident written English is required. There are jobs such as virtual assistants, ghostwriters, product description writers. All that is needed is an internet connection, a computer of some kind, and the ability to type. “I felt positive”. Abundance abounds, I feel thankful. By following each link, I uncovered more and more opportunities.
The despair morphed, shifted into something more positive, lightening my bruised soul. Perhaps there is something I could do after all.
There are many sites, many sites offering transcribing work. Unfortunately, many of them ask for experience, some 6 months, but often 2 years. Others only want US citizens, or language other than English speaking applicants. Another set back. How do I get past this? I need to work now!
More digging uncovered sites that offer transcribing services to anyone willing to take the chance. Pay is low, but every keystroke, every audio is an experience. Each site has their own version of a style guide – half dozen pages or so of the rules used to govern how the resultant document is to be formatted. Plus instructions on how to handle instances when the spoken words are indecipherable, or inaudible, or non-English. How to write numbers, dates, currency….small variations from the style guide can be the difference between acceptance and rejection of one’s work – ultimately pay or no pay.
Transcribing is listening to audio files and videos of recorded interviews, presentations, phone calls, and lectures. Medical transcribing is listening to audio files of patient consultations, surgeries, autopsies, research projects Transcribing is taking the spoken word, and converting it to written in specifically formatted documents.
Initially, listening to the audio files, I was terrified. The speakers were not easy to hear or understand. Common words run into each other, laughter, interrupting, unfamiliar accents, the spoken word, in real time, is actually quite fast. Keeping up with the conversation, keeping words spelled correctly and formatting appropriate proved challenging.
My strategy became practice. Typing practice every day will ensure that I get faster and more accurate. Listening to the audios became easier, and I found I could hear things more readily as time progressed.
Medical transcribing though is a different situation. There is now a requirement for completed courses, certificates or even a diploma. Transcribed documents are used in legal proceedings and so have to be precise. Most sites offering medical transcribing jobs require years of experience.
Transcribing doesn’t always offer a guarantee of paid work. There is still much rejection, but there is a real feeling of control, of having more say over what happens in your work life.
The freelance world is abundant with opportunity. It seems that it will take time, time to establish myself out there as a competent writer, a reliable supplier of the written English word. And I am ok with that. The pay right now is bad, but I am ok with that too. The rewards are out there to be had. There is plenty of work for people, of any age, any disposition. I feel so grateful that I have found this mountain, and am now moving into the foothills to begin my climb.
I was fearful, at the start, that my best before date is past. It was a sad thing for me to contemplate. I realize now that I am enough, just as I am, to rejoin the workforce and to earn money again. I am enough, to bring good service to those in need of what I have to offer. I am enough.
The workplace is not the same as it once was. It has been opened up, globally. It does take some digging, and some practice to learn the new ways, but if you are willing, your “Best Before” date may never, ever come.