So...I've got a job.
I can’t quite believe it. Two years ago, as I cycled through that parched high altitude desert in Kashmir, I set my sights on a job where I could pursue something I deeply enjoyed (and actually get paid for it).
I took the dive 18 months ago and swam furiously. Up until I left Melbourne, it hadn’t been easy. Cue a breakdown or two, endless hours of soul-searching and biting my lip as I navigated many situations that just didn't feel ‘right’.
18 months later I finally haul myself aboard HMS Tropical Fruit. I’m in Berlin, helping a specialty roaster grow their international sales. I never have to iron my shirts ever again. I've hit the jackpot.
Even still, by some benchmarks, I'm failing this whole 'career' thing. I mean, this this the second serious pay cut of my career.
But what do I get in return? I’m surrounded by people who share my passion for coffee and it feels great. They're slightly mad, sure. I dread to think what Freud would say about patients who dream about espresso machines night after night. And I'm a little worried that if I continue this rate of career 'progress' I'll be in a state of permanent caffeinated bliss while I harass pedestrians for spare change.
What's really surprising is how stressfree landing a job in Europe has been. Compared to those first four months of scrounging around when I landed in Melbourne, landing a job in Europe has been easy. Suspiciously easy. There was none of the cycling-on-an-empty-stomach from one end of town to another. None of the endless rejection. It went so easily in fact I’m actually regretting not travelling for longer beforehand.
Why was it such a breeze this time round? Well, I just knew what to do.
‘…and what exactly was that?’ I hear you ask.
Well, funnily enough, the solution isn't rocket science (but it is a little like magic). It’s a simple little strategy that's worked for me twice-in-a-row now. With a little luck, it may work for you too:
First, find the big event that everyone you want to work with will all be attending. Coffee festivals are an obvious answer. Maybe it’s a conference?
Then, apply to a bucket of jobs a few weeks beforehand. You want these applications to be strong, so now is not the time to spray and pray.
At the event, find a meaningful role that helps connect you to the movers and shakers. I ended up stage managing a coffee competition. Perhaps it’s organising the afterparty? (Quite literally the movers and shakers…okay, sorry, bad joke).
Now, the crucial bit: work like a dog while getting to know as many people as you can. With everyone you meet, tell them your story and be upfront with what you want. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know. They’re busy people and can’t read your mind.
And therein lies the beauty of people, relationships and human kindness. You’ll be amazed at how much people want to help you. 'Oh, you’ve already applied? Great, I’ll make sure HR give you an interview.'
Of course, then there’s the actual interview process (you’re on your own here, I’m afraid). The key here is you’re going into these interviews supported by relationships and warm feelings. And that places you apart from almost everybody else.
You’re no longer the impersonal coverletter.
You’re the person who gave your time and energy to the greater whole. You’re part of the movement. You’re one of us and we trust you.
It’s kind of magical.
So, I find myself aboard HMS Tropical Fruit and the ocean is spread out ahead. Now what? Well, let’s see where it takes me. It’s just another chapter of an unfinished book about a life adventure. And right now I’m in no hurry to finish this particular book.