Fridays in the DC summer are generally quiet, as most people get the heck out of the hot, humid city for greener pastures (or sandy beaches). I took the opportunity to work from home, which is one of the great perks about working for an NGO that is “green” in outlook. By working from home, I don’t use any fossil fuels to get to work, and the electricity in my office stays off. Plus, I save 1.5 hours of travel time, so that helps increase my productivity over the day. I mostly answer emails on the days that I work from home, as a grants officer has a never-ending stream of emailed questions, reports, signed paperwork needing to be filed, etc. that can be dealt with anywhere in the world.
I had lunch today with a former NGS colleague who used to run part of our online empire. As an expert in digital and social media, S. has been a tremendous mentor for me in this arena, and gradually we evolved into friends who meet for lunch or cocktails (or both). I am a self-professed Luddite – I fear technological changes, because they inevitably stress me out – and I never joined Facebook, My Space, or any of those time-wasters. For work I was required to join Instagram and Twitter, which hasn’t been too bad – very manageable (short posts!) and often enjoyable – and S. was the one who encouraged me to try it. As in most jobs, you learn so much from your colleagues, and hopefully you give back as much as you take in.
Upon leaving academia and entering “the real world,” I feared that I would no longer have the flexibility to create my own hours, which is partially true. However, when I compare notes with my colleagues who remain in universities and museums, I actually have more flexibility with my time than they do. Not all jobs outside academia are like investment banking or “consulting” gigs – there are so many options for people who are hardworking and smart, that you should make sure to cast a wide net when seeking employment. Remember: you are never unemployed; you are simply under-employed!