I think that, throughout one’s lifetime, there are pivotal moments that change one’s life in dramatic ways. For me, this would include getting the King’s scholarship to study in the UK, choosing UCL over Oxford for my undergraduate degree, being institutionalised for my bipolar disorder, showing up in a bar one night in Luang Prabang, getting the job at Agoda.
August 2020 will go down as one of those moments.
Two months ago I wrote about how lucky I was to have quit my job and just be, but also that I feared still not knowing what to do in a year’s time.
Well, now I do.
On Monday 3rd August, an e-mail landed in my inbox that—unbeknownst to me at the time—would propel my life in a completely different direction.
This e-mail was Mark Manson’s Mindf*ck Monday newsletter. One of the things he mentioned in this e-mail was that he’s hiring.
I think you know where the rest of this post is going (yes, I got the job).
One thing you may or may not know about me: I read. Not as much as I’d like to, but probably more than the average person. And I really, really value good writing. Of the hundreds of authors I’ve read, there are probably fewer than 5 whose writing I truly admire.
Mark is one of them.
You may know him for his break-out success The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. That’s also how I came to know him, thanks to my former boss at DKSH (to whom I’m eternally grateful. Shout out to Agnes!) But Mark’s body of writing expands far beyond his books (he has since released a follow-up to The Subtle Art, Everything Is F*cked: A Book about Hope). His mainstay is his website MarkManson.net, which I’ve been reading on-and-off this past year and a half.
When one of your top 5 favourite authors is hiring for a Content and Research Assistant, you apply.
I redid my CV (in a style so unconventional that it’d probably get me rejected from most—if not all—other jobs), dug out an article I once wrote for a psychology blog as writing sample, wrote 477 words on my long-term career goals and why I want this position. And—after reviewing the application for the gazillionth time—clicked send.
I had no idea how many other people around the world would apply (it’s a fully remote role), and how strong a candidate each would be. But I was pretty confident in my application, especially the 477 words and my CV. So I was hopeful I’d get through to Phase 2.
And got through I did. Phase 2 consisted of 3 tasks typical of what the new hire would be asked to do. One of the three was a research summary on the Big Five personality model which I knew pretty much nothing about. A lot of stress and frustration ensued. After working through the weekend, I submitted my 3 tasks.
In the days following, I would worry incessantly about the quality of my research summary—or lack thereof. I was pretty confident in the other 2 tasks, but with the research summary, I really wasn’t sure. A small part of me thought: that’s pretty decent for a 2-day job. A much larger part of me thought: that’s really not a good essay. Certainly not the kind of essay I used to produce back in university.
So when, 3 excruciating days later, I got an e-mail from Mark inviting me for an interview, I broke down into tears. Sobbing somewhat uncontrollably, I ran upstairs and showed my mom the e-mail. Over the next few days, I would re-read the e-mail countless times. Not quite able to believe it was really there in my inbox.
The interview happened 2 days later. Meeting my favourite author was surreal. Over a year ago when I first read his book, he was just this New York Times bestselling author. A celebrity. No thought ever crossed my mind that one day I’d get to interact with him. And here he was, in a Zoom call laughing at my jokes.
Fast forward a few anxious days: a job offer arrived in my inbox.
Starting on Tuesday 1st September, I will join Mark’s team as Content and Research Assistant. What that means to an aspiring blogger, I have no words to describe.
It’s funny thinking about it. All those months after quitting Agoda pondering what to spend my days doing, which income sources to build on—the thought had never crossed my mind to pursue writing as a career.
Yes, there’s the vague idea of that book I want to eventually write. There’s the new blog which I was hoping to build into something. The content jobs I was browsing here and there.
But it wasn’t a thought I seriously pursued. I was so focused on my subtitles translation and English teaching that I had no head space left for considering a career in writing.
This opportunity came out of the blue, and I grabbed it with both hands. I poured my heart and soul into the application. And I made it.
I feel surprisingly calm about all this. Maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet. Or maybe deep inside me I feel it’s meant to be. To get to write, and learn. No, get paid to write and learn. To work for—and learn from—my favourite author.
That’s nothing short of mind-blowing. And I just can’t wait for Tuesday to come around. So I can spend the rest of my life doing the thing I love most but never dared dream to pursue: write.