A story about what it feels like jumping out of a secure life and plunging into the unknown. 

There’s a secret I’ve been hiding from you

So what’s it like working in an industry you've been dreaming about for two years?

One word: AMAZING.

Seriously. I’m getting paid to drink and talk coffee. I’ve won the life lottery. 

It’s gets better too: I wake up on the air mattress I’ve slept on for the last three months. I’m so cold my blood’s turned blue. I’m cocooned in my blankets to keep my body away from the cold air beneath me.

I check my bank balance on my phone and my eyes pop open. I’ve been paid! It’s a lump of money I haven’t seen in a long time. 1 year 9 months, to be exact.

I shed my blankets, get out of the house and buy a real bed. I throw open the valve on the air mattress. It hisses like a wounded anaconda, shimmering flat to the floor. 

Take that, poverty! 

But.

There’s something I need to tell you.

There’s a secret I’ve been keeping from you. 

Please don’t judge me. And sorry for not letting you know sooner. 

Okay, here it is:

Caffe Fiume is big. One of Australia’s largest coffee roasters.

But not just that. It’s owned by an even bigger company. A multinational. 

And not just any multinational. 

One of the largest companies in the world.  

Put another way, it’s the quintessential corporate: intranet, ironed shirts, quarterly reviews. 

I’ve quit my finance career, travelled halfway across the world and I’ve landed back in a corporate.

I may as well call this blog 'Career Float - a comparison of two corporate intranets'. 

Have I sold my soul?

Well, I tried for four months to get in with the famous hipster coffee shops and they all turned me down.

But that’s no reason to stop trying!

Well, for now, I have stopped trying. And here’s why: my skills are valued at Caffe Fiume. They push me to take ownership and develop the business.   

They see in me something that the hipster cafes didn’t. 

To take one example: while I was interviewing for the Caffe Fiume job, a (formerly) Plan A hipster cafe contacted me for an interview.

I meet the 21 year-old coffee shop manager. He hears my background, likes my passion and offers me a trial.

‘But James, I want to warn you: we’re looking for a woman because I feel the gender balance is off in this cafe’. 

Oh. Okay. I offer him a solution: rotate staff across your cafes. You can get more women in and it builds the sense of family amongst your cafes.

‘No. That won’t work. I need them to work my way'. 

Huh.

Roll on trial day and I stroll in after a sober night out, a little sore from hours of dancing.

'How’s it going?’ Great! Maybe a little tired, y'know, was dancing last night but otherwise all good.

The first hour of three goes swimmingly. I’m cracking jokes with customers and staff alike while the manager buries his head crafting rosettas.

Then, ten minutes later, he pulls me aside. 'Thanks James, your trial is over'. It's barely been an hour. ‘Pick up your coat and you can leave’.

Leave!? Can we talk about this? 

'James, for me it's a straight up “no". You came to work tired. I can't have that'. 

Hold the phone. I still got my 7 hours sleep. I didn't drink a drop of alcohol last night. I'm just a little physically tired from having an ol'fashioned boogie. 

'Oh…well, I didn’t know that bit. Anyway, you're wearing the same shirt you wore back on Wednesday'

What? I came to Melbourne with a small backpack. I have very few shirts. This shirt's been washed since you last saw me five days ago. 

Could you please tell me how I did on the floor, doing the job you asked me to trial today? 

'Oh, you did great. But to be honest I wasn't watching that much.'

This is why I don’t mind working for a corporate for the time being. I’m not being written off because 1) I’m not a woman, 2) I come to work a little physically tired, 3) I don’t own enough shirts, or any other irrelevant consideration.

I’ve been hired because they genuinely want me.

And, right now, that matters a lot to me. 

A compromising situation

Is this a dream?