Sometimes, It Doesn’t Happen 😓

Not every career opportunity is going to turn out quite the way you expect. Make the opportunities that fall through your hands mean something.

(Robert Anasch/Unsplash)

Back in the day, I had a couple of really surprising career opportunities nearly fall in my lap as a result of my side projects. The opportunities were incredibly impressive, the kind of things you dream of when going into journalism.

(Example: Remember The Daily, that newspaper for the iPad? I interviewed for a job there.)

But they didn’t happen. And I’m OK with that.

I think in some ways, they put me on an idiosyncratic path where I better understand the value of my words and my desire for independence as a writer.

I remember one particular experience well: I found myself sitting in a restaurant with a reporter who was transitioning into an editor role, and I was nervous as all get out—I had run across town to take the meeting. He was interested in my mixture of design and writing, which had gotten a bit of attention around this time, but completely unaware of my day job—which, at the time, was at a traditional media outlet. (That’s right, my side project got my foot in the door.) Soon enough, I found myself going to New York to interview at the big publication where this guy was headed. I shook some pretty big-name hands that day.

And I’ll be honest: I really wanted that job during that week, but it didn’t happen in the end. And ultimately, I’ve come to the realization that it was a good thing. Cat hates New York, and that move might have been a pretty hard sell; we got married a year later. Plus, they wanted me to shut down my site if I went to work for them, which I still admit to feeling weird about, in part because there were other contributors at the time, and in part because it was something I created and was very passionate about.

I ended up going for another job a few months later that was a little more low-key, but that welcomed the fact that I was going to be working on wild side projects in my free time. Nearly nine years later, I’m still there—and I still get to weekend warrior it up.

I still think of the kind of journalist I would have evolved into if I quit my passion project and went for the big gig with the big name when it was put in front of me. Would I make a career of it? Or would I burn out in a matter of months? It’s that imposter syndrome thing, right?

But in many ways, the situation was one of a few things that ultimately gave me a bit of an independent streak that I carry around to this day. I can carry that independence with me.

The great thing about missed opportunities is that the next one is around the corner. Learn from the ones that pass you by.

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Ernie Smith

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Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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