One of the most frustrating things about being unemployed and underemployed in the past was the feeling that I spent more time looking for work than actually doing it. In starting A Little Research, I’m likely to face some of the same.
For someone motivated by scholarship and engineering, and without much interest in marketing or “personal brands”, there’s something appealing about turning up to an office each day with the broad direction of my work set by the organisation that owns the office. No doubt I’ve worked in this manner for most of my career for precisely this reason—I get to focus on the scholarship and engineering while someone else worries about where the projects and the resources for them come from.
I’ve also found that doing a few hours of menial work (such as Bushcare or working bees for my hobby groups) can be oddly relaxing in that they allow me to take a break from thinking up things to do and making professional decisions about how to write software or deliver a class. Yet I’m sure I wouldn’t want to perform this sort of labour on a full-time basis, or even for a significant portion of each week.
Having a part-time job relieves some of this. I have a couple of days each week on which I have a fairly well-defined set of things to do and am relieved from having to think up my own projects to work on. Occasionally, when I’m struggling particularly hard to think of something to do, it can be a relief to wake up and find that it’s a work day. Having a part-time job also means that I’m under less pressure to look for work in other places, so I can afford to follow up only the most promising opportunities instead of having to scramble for whatever might be available.
Perhaps that’s not a recipe for success for A Little Research: I may end up waiting around for the perfect opportunity to come along and find that this opportunity never comes. Better, maybe, to think of it as having some time to think through and experiment with how to find those opportunities rather than just throw my resume at whatever I see on job boards.