2013 In Review and Start of a New Life

Hello readers, yes I am back… After almost seven months I am back writing again, and boy has it been a roller coaster of a time.  I am going to start off this post, as I always do with every post that has come before it, apologizing for the time between posts, but this time it is because of some major life changing things that have stopped me from posting as regularly as I promised when I first started this blog.

This post is going to be more of a personal review of the year that has gone forth.  I felt this was the best way of getting it out of my head, putting it down on paper as it were.  If you guys read this, then I thank you for taking the time to read and hope you understand the reasons behind why I am telling the world about the problems I have faced this last twelve months.

I think 2013 has been a difficult year for us all around the world not just in the United Kingdom that I have called home for the last thirty-five or so years.  The United Kingdom was hit by the worst recession in decades and although it did start many months before 2013, it was this year that has given me grief, heartache and joy all rolled into one.  I don’t think the reasons why the country was gripped by the hardships of money worries is the blame of any one man, one woman, group of people or the government and it is not my place to lay that blame at anyone’s door, but as 2013 started, I was thankful and felt privileged to be in a job that was for the most part secure while many were losing their jobs and faced with significant financial difficulties.

I was thankful for the things I had, and although I did not and still do not have anyone to share these things with, I was thankful for the home, the family and friends I had around me.  Some would say it was an inevitable consequence of the recession that I would find myself in the same position as many of you find yourselves today.

Although I have now gotten past the blaming of myself and the others around me for the position I found myself in.  I will not go into the details of what happened as it is very personal and feel it is not appropriate to detail it here, and it would make this article much longer.  Let us just say that in May of this year I found that I was facing the real possibility that I would be out of work after working for the same institution for over seven years, and that I could be facing real financial difficulties and losing my home, car and my lifestyle if I was not able to find alternative employment quickly.

I have never been much of a saver and many of you would say, not having some kind of money to fall back on to get you through the bad times, is a extremely bad thing, and it is, and regret it to this day, all of that is going to change from now on.

I had been feeling that I needed a change for many months and after I had spoken with a colleague at the time, that he was about to start a new life with his family in Melbourne, Australia, it made me think seriously about where I was, where I wanted to be and how I wanted my career to progress.

I spent many, many months working with an agent to acquire the necessary working and living privileges visa for Australia and began looking for work with little success, and although I felt that the requirements are significantly easier for Australia than it is for other countries like America and Canada I had lost all hope that I would get the opportunity to move and start a new life in the land of Oz.

I was then faced with the possibility that I could be out of work, and had to turn my attentions to looking for alternative employment in the United Kingdom to ensure I was still able to live the lifestyle I had become accustomed to and the dream of moving to Australia had to be put on hold.  Including the jobs I applied for in the many states of Australia, and the UK I had applied for close to seventy-five positions, and was become very despondent that I was not going to get any form of job.  This was of course as a result that many other people were looking for jobs and the competition was very fierce.

I don’t know what it was, but something just clicked and I began thinking that the jobs I was applying for were the type of job I most enjoy, helping people, and although the salaries weren’t that great, IT Support was the area I wanted to get back into.  I had realized that I didn’t really want to work for in the Education Sector again, but I really needed take stock that the jobs I was applying for were not being successful, so I turned to the experience and knowledge I had already gained over the many years, and thought this is where I need to concentrate my efforts.

The software which I had been responsible for supporting over the many years that store the details of students and course material is a very specific piece of software, and the skills to use and support such a piece of software are not something many have.  So instead of applying to other institutions that utilize this software, I concentrated my efforts on the company which creates it.  At the time it felt like a miracle that I had been offered an interview and later the position to go and work for this company, but as I sit five months on writing this, I am grateful to the Team Leader that gave me the position… more on this later.

Taking the job did unfortunately mean several things, moving away from my family to live in the area where the main office is located, renting out the property I currently have, up-routing my pet cat to go and live with my parents, not to mention the decrease in salary I had to take.  Despite all this, and the further difficulties it has left me with financially, having to pay my regular payment to my mortgage company and the cost of rent to share a house, I am thankful I was able to find this position and not have any break in my employment history.  My thoughts are with those that do find themselves in this unfortunate position.

Long story short, I started with this company in June 2013, and after only five months, I am now onto my third position with the company.  It became very apparent that the people whom I work with are interested in making sure anyone who works for the company to use their potential to the best of their ability and apply it to different areas of the company.  I had only been with them two days, and my team leader passed on an email to me, that they were thinking about restarting the Support Desk that they had many years ago and with my passion for helping people, this interested me a great deal.

I had concerns that this guy had taken me into his team and I was wanting to transfer out so quickly and that I would give the impression that I wasn’t grateful for the opportunity he had given me, but I quickly realized that no-one was like that and felt that if the opportunities come along you have to take them.

One of my biggest mistakes I feel I have made over the last ten years is that it has always been about the company I work for, and not had the opportunities to progress my career that I would have liked.  When I knew I was going to have to find alternative employment I said to myself, this is the time to take the job not just because it is the only thing you have been able to find in months but it was a time to think about you as an individual and really start pushing to move your career along otherwise you are going to get stuck in a job you don’t like and can’t easily get out.

I have now come to the realization that you do have to play the cards that are dealt to you and take the opportunities that come along otherwise you find yourself missing out on opportunities that could have been good for you as an individual and for your future.  Very philosophical I know, but I truly believe this and if I had not taken my own advice, I would not find myself in the very fortunate position I find myself in now.

Within two months of starting with this company, I had began to work more with a different team supporting customers (including the one I had just left) in the use of this very specific piece of software.  I had many meetings with those responsible for setting up the new team and they had made it very clear that they would like to have the knowledge in the team, which was very flattering.  They had also told me that they were looking to recruit four new people directly out of University to work in the team.  The customer base was also expanding at a rate beyond that could be easily supported from the UK and as the customers increased in Australia, they would be looking to set up a similar team based in Sydney.

Now, you can only imagine my delight when I heard this news that there could be the real possibility that I could help start this team by going to work for the Australian branch and that I already had a Visa was a great bargaining chip.  When I had told my soon to be new line manager of this fact, he was very interested and would keep this in mind, but the plans for setting up this team would be in 2014, almost a year after the new team had been established in the UK.

This is where it all changed again… shortly before I was scheduled to start with the new team full time, an internal email was sent to all staff making them aware of some new internal positions to work out in Australia.  Unfortunately at this time I had not been included in the distribution list to get such emails, and was only made aware of it by my colleague that knew I had a real interest in living and working in Australia, and passed the email to me.  I thank her for doing so.

The positions available, would not only mean an opportunity to continue to work for the company, but to live and work in Australia, it also meant a significant increase in responsibility and salary.  Now, if you knew me personally, you would know that the jobs I have applied for in the past have never been about the money, this was only a part of the position, and a bonus if it was an increase on my last role.  This was a really great opportunity and a step further up the career ladder, which is what I wanted.

I am please to say that I made my interest known to those responsible for these positions, and had an interview over Skype (something I had not really used all that much, and is such a big part of my working life now, and will be so much more in the future).  I was offered the position.

I was again in the unfortunate position of feeling that I had promised my skills and knowledge to a team that I so much wanted to work in prior to learning of these Australian positions, that I would be leaving the team… again.

While all this was going on, I was keeping my parents and grandmother aware of the situation, and my grandmother being 96 years old, was concerned that I would move 12,000 miles away and not see her again.  It did become a standing joke with her ‘please wait until I die’ before moving away, and sadly it looks like she got her wish, because in October she passed on.  I of course miss her very much.

Like any of you, I love my parents and siblings, but it has again come down to what I said earlier, the time has come to think about me, where my life and career is heading.  I now have the best opportunity to live and work in a completely new country, and because I don’t know Australia, anyone who lives there, it is like an opportunity to start a completely new life.  You may be reading this and thinking, you lucky b$%$ard, and yes I do feel very lucky.

We only have a short time left until 2013 is done and 2014 begins, but if anyone is feeling the same way I did back in May, then my advice is, do something about it.  Concentrate on you (and your family, if you have one).  Move away from the town or city you’re in and start something completely new.  Yes this is easy to say, but I have done it, and I am about to move 12,000 miles away, and may seem a little extreme to some, but I have the feeling it is going to be the best thing for me.

I am hoping that 2014, is going to be a better year for me.  Sure I am going to be away from family and friends, its going to be a huge challenge, starting a new job, living in a new city I have never been to, let alone a new country that I have only been to once and seen a small part of, but I am going to make the best of this situation and hopefully by the end of 2014, I will have forgotten all of the bad things that happened in 2013.

Thank you for reading if you got this far.  I hope you all have a great Christmas and All the best for 2014.

I start my new position in the first part of January 2014, so wish me luck, and I will be writing a series of articles of my first few weeks in a new city, new country and my new life.