looking for the bright side



I had it all worked out. And then it didn’t.

I was working as a *teacher’s assistant, applying for jobs elsewhere. The teaching thing wasn’t going well: my student was a nightmare. I dreaded going to work every day, and then —

A reporting job came available. It was at a small paper twenty miles away, and it was perfect. The staff was small; the paper, bi-weekly. I didn’t have a lot of experience, but, surely I stood a chance here.

I had an interview; it went well. Wrote a test article; it went went well, too. And then I waited. And waited. The editor had had a few more interviews to do, so . . .

Meanwhile, back at school, I was transferred from kindergarten to first grade. Still not my favorite age group, but things were getting better. My new student was changing schools at the end of March, though, which meant . . . The perfect time to start a new job! Or so I hoped.

A week after I turned in my article, I contacted the editor. I now suspected the worst, but I had to at least follow up. That was a Friday. The following Monday, he responded. “Sorry for the delay. We actually offered the position to someone last week, and he has accepted. It was an internal candidate with a lot of experience . . . That being said, I really liked your article. How would you feel about **freelancing?”


I told him yes, of course, and have since been looking for the upside to the situation. Here are a few things I’ve come up with.

Because he said no:

  • I now get to work with a really sweet group of kids and learn from their perspectives.
  • I get to love my students in a way that, maybe, they’re needing.
  • I get to work close to home and spend less time driving and save money on gas.
  • Teaching means nice hours, which, in turn, gives me more time to spend with Jon and train for my Half Ironman (more on that later).
  • The editor did like my article enough to ask me to freelance.
  • Last, and perhaps most importantly, a reporting job would have taken a lot out of me. Because he said no, I’m not tired of writing at the end of the day and, thus, still have the creative energy to blog.

So, all in all, there are actually a lot of upsides to getting turned down . . . Still, it would have been nice to have been able to announce to the world, “Jessica Cyphers, Reporter!” As if that would have somehow validated — me.


*I am at teacher’s assistant assigned to a specific (typically troubled) student, not to the entire class.

**Freelancers at small papers typically don’t write a lot. I average eight to ten articles for my hometown paper in Placerville each year.


16 thoughts

  1. Wonderful news, Jess. Congrats on the freelance writing gig. Those are hard to come by these days. I’m sure you’ll be able to juggle it all. Being a teacher sounds interesting since you never know what kids will say. They come to school to learn from teachers and I suppose it’s the other way round too as you said :) Good luck with training for the marathon. Cheering for you, loud and clear :)

    • Thanks, Mabel. I added a postscript to this after you read it. Freelancers at small papers don’t write much. Juggling it all won’t be a problem because I won’t be writing much. But that’s okay.

      Yes, teaching is a joy and privilege. No matter what, I am very glad to have had this opportunity to work with kids — in Asia and here.

      The triathlon is no joke, I’ll tell you that! I hope to write more about it soon. Thanks for your encouragement. :)

      • You are right. I’ve been doing freelance writing for a youth site over the last year and a bit, and usually I’m asked to do one article a month. Sometimes I’ve even struggled with this because life gets in the way. Bit of a poor excuse, but still…

        The triathlon sounds very, very exciting. A breath of fresh air :D

  2. And so often new hires do come from within due to a proven, consistent and reliable track record. There can be no surprises like you risk when you hire from outside one’s company. That being said, now YOU have the opportunity to Wow and Dazzle this editor with your skills and style. So the next time an opportunity arises he now knows you and the quality of your work as well as being familiar with your style and reliability. You can have the inside track on future opportunities. Or at the very lease a good reference from a pro in the writing profession. Remember, if it was easy we would all be writers! :) Good luck to you Jess!

    • Thanks, Andy. I don’t think the editor will be too surprised by my work. He’s seen other articles I’ve written; also, small papers don’t often require the help of freelancers. I don’t expect I’ll be writing a lot or often. That being said, yes, whatever I do write for this editor will be of use for the future. I’ve made great relationships with the editors at my hometown paper, and one in particular would hire me on the spot if he had a chance!

      Thanks for stopping by! I know how busy you are. Hope things are going well on your side of the country! :)

  3. All in all, it sounds like good news (no pun intended). Maybe a few features during the summer will give you a chance to stretch your writing a bit. Certainly, nothing else has the potential to make a difference as the work you are doing in that school. Good luck Jess.

    • You’re right, Dan. It is mostly good news, and that’s what I’ve been telling myself despite my disappointment. I love working with kids, and any experience writing is better than no experience. I also hope to start my masters next fall. So, thank you!!

  4. I think your upside list makes me think it’s a relief you didn’t get the full time job, it might have had a detrimental effect on your Ironman (can’t help but think of Robert Downey in that suit- hope yours is as funky :D) or your masters, or your home life… some things are meant not to be. Jessica Cyphers,Writer,poet,teacher,Ironmanlady, sounds more fun to me :)

  5. Whatever you do, find those who are living pieces of the life you are after and embrace that situation (life has a weird way of sucking you into situation that you find yourself positively aligned with). There was a great article/study a decade+ ago that looked at people who were frustrated with the paths of their life. It looked at a group of people who avoided situations where they would be put “face-to-face” with their frustrations versus a group that actively engaged in their “positive envy”…and the results were amazing. They did a case study about this for business schools, the significance of keeping dreams alive so to speak.

    Also, put in a position where action must be taken (ahem, like moving somewhere/anywhere in Asia…) and you will find a path ~ and chances are it will be a pretty exciting one. Cheers to a great weekend (or Easter Sunday) ~

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