Monday, January 22, 2007

Gainfully Employed and Ready to Write!

As I've already reported, I've decided after much prayer to become a freelance writer. I'll be starting by working with freelance communication company which has a service writing project with my former employer. The project will go for at least 4 months and will give me a great introduction to the freelance world. I chose freelancing over a possible office manager job at a local collections agency. It was actually not an easy choice to make since, while the office job didn't offer the best pay, it offered security, challenge and the promise of greater pay as I helped the owner make her business grow. Not only that, but working at the agency would allow me to learn from a highly motivated woman entrepreneur, who I came to respect very quickly. In the end, though, I chose to go with starting a freelance business and notified my employment agency that I wouldn't be taking the office manager job.

Now, the writing project won't start until mid-February to mid-March and I won't see my first paycheck until 4-6 weeks after we start writing. Because I've been unemployed since Thanksgiving, champs and I decided that I had to find a part time job to start now and through the beginning of starting my business. Thus, I've been searching for a part-time job with some pretty strict criteria. Since I won't need any child care for Sweet Girl once I am freelancing, I didn't want to find a job that would require me to put her into daycare for 4 weeks; that would only reduce my earnings and cause a lot of headaches. Thus, I needed a job in the mornings where I would be done by 2:00 at the very latest. I also needed a job that would let me work more hours now, but reduce my hours once the project starts. Finally, I wanted a job that would pay better than minimum wage (which, unfortunately, is what most jobs that met the first two criteria would offer). Lastly, I was hoping for a job that might have a bit of a fun factor. Although I am more than willing to stand at factory line and watch bottles fill (or whatever it takes to bring a check home), I was hoping to find something with at least some brain work.

Well, I started looking at options... Walmart cashier? Housekeeping at the hospital? Breakfast crew at McDonald's? I ended up applying at Panera Bread, which is near my house and would allow me to work early hours and be in a more active working environment (not to mention a yummy discount). On a lark, I also let my employment agency know that, while I couldn't take the office manager job, I would still love to work for the collection agency as a part-timer working on special projects that the owner and I had discussed. After a week, I had no response on that offer. On Thursday, Panera called me to ask if I could come in for an interview.

To today: I had an interview at Panera this morning. The manager wasn't in, so I interviewed with the trainer. He liked me a lot and told me that I "95% had the job". He just needed to confirm with his manager and then I could attend orientation tomorrow. I was pretty pumped up and headed home with a few bagels for Champs and I to eat for lunch.

We'd no sooner sat down to our bagels when the phone rang. It was the owner of the collection agency calling. She said that the employment agency had mentioned that I "might be interested" in working part-time and wondered if I still was and when I could start. I pretty much assured her that I was more than interested and could start tomorrow. She warned me that I'll have to start with "grunt work" to begin with, since she is still working on hiring an office manager and is currently down two admin assistants. I assured her grunt work was fine and I would have the hope of learning the business and then moving into project management for her - an option she wholly endorsed.

Here's the offer she outlined: I would be able to start with more hours now and then reduce them later as needed. Also, since she already knew that I chose the freelance career partly to be home more with Sweet Girl, she said that she would arrange my schedule around Sweet Girl's school schedule - and we could deal with summer when we got there. After that, she paid me one of the greatest compliments I've ever received. She explained that, before I decided to work on freelancing, she had her heart set on me as her office manager, since she could tell I had great skills and energy. It was because of this that she wanted me part time and that she was comparing her office manager candidates to me. How nice - and humbling(!) is that?!?!

Well, of course I said "yes!" and "thank you!" I'll be starting at 8:00 tomorrow. I won't be earning as much as I would have as the Office Manager, but my boss said that after 90 days, she will give me a raise and begin moving me to a project manager. She is totally on my side in starting my freelance business, but understands that I need security to fully make the switch.

Can you even believe this? I mean, this is the "more than you can ask, think or imagine" that you hear about when the Bible talks about God's ability to answer prayer. She called me, pinpointed my exact needs, promised to let me work with my talents and offered continued security as I start my freelancing company. Not only that but if, for some reason the freelancing thing doesn't work as well as I hoped, I still have this company to move to full time - with all the things that made it an appealing option when I was trying to choose between the two. And, oh yeah, she also wants to be one of my freelance customers...

How good is that?!?!?!

Woo hoo! Come March, I'll be paying the rent, not my IRA. Thank you Lord!

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