musings, life lessons & poetry from Theresa Jarosz Alberti

The Work of Not-Working

A bit about me and jobs, and no-jobs…

I started working as an office temp a few years ago. After a short and challenging stint as a  Personal Care Assistant, I had been job hunting for several months. Even though there were employers looking for my skills and education, I was having a hard time getting interviews. I’m sure there were many reasons for this, but it didn’t help that I’d been out of the work force for years to raise kids.

So temping it was. I had done it in my 20s and enjoyed the variety. I knew it would give me more experience and a chance to prove myself in more traditional workplaces again. And it worked– I soon had a good reputation and repeat customers. Better yet, I made money while doing it!  I also got to work at some interesting places–  like MPR, WCCO-TV, and even an in-patient drug rehab center.  I have some interesting stories to tell from each of these places!

One benefit of temping was to give myself time to figure out what I actually wanted to do. I still applied for jobs and had interviews– a few jobs I wanted really badly and I seemed so very suited for it. It was not meant to be. I kept on temping. Until my last job in December. This was a temp-to-hire job in a fancy commercial real estate company in downtown Minneapolis. This job seemed very promising–  they really wanted me to be there and hire me permanently, they wanted me for my writing skills as well as my admin experience, so many of the people there were helpful and supportive of me jumping into a new arena with its own confusing terminology and practices.

Unfortunately, the guy I was working for treated me pretty badly from Day 1.  Condescending attitude, criticisms, unrealistic expectations and deadlines,  explaining things poorly– suffice it to say, I went home crying from this job many times, and that isn’t like me. It was a good opportunity and I wanted to make it work, so I kept on trying…. until I hit my breaking point, right before Christmas. It was hard to leave, but I knew it would be harder to stay, and I value my mental health.

One good thing about that job, though, is that it helped me to figure out what I want (and what I don’t want, too). My jerky boss had me do some writing projects for him, including copy for an offering memorandum for multi-million dollar buildings. The writing needed to be slick and jargony, and it took me some trial and error to give him what he wanted. But I figured it out, and for once, he enthusiastically praised my work. “I’ve always wanted to work with a writer,” he told me. (Too bad he screwed that up.)

So I came away from that job experience remember how much I love writing. How I enjoy the challenge of writing something new, of figuring out how to make it excellent, how to communicate what needs to be said in the best possible way. I like the creativity. I like how some centers in my brain just light up when I’m working on a piece.

So I decided that I really wanted to make a go of being a full-time freelance writer. I wanted to use my talents as a writer my career, and I really valued the flexible schedule I would have (I have a lot of medical appointments to work around). I’d done a bit of research and knew that writing for businesses is where the money is at for writers (as opposed to other stuff like magazine articles). I have in fact done some of this kind of writing over the years– never full-time though.

What had held me back before, when I’d considered freelancing, was the part where you really have to promote yourself and pursue opportunities with confidence. You have to network and sell yourself to potential clients, and that was always too intimidating to me before. I’ve always known I’m a good writer, but I didn’t feel good enough about myself as a whole to say Yes, I’m your writer. I can do this work for you and you will be thoroughly satisfied with the end-product. Fear kept me anywhere near being able to do this.

But I’ve done a LOT of work on myself. I have a better idea of my value as a great person and an excellent writer. And sure, it’s still a little scary to think of promoting myself and seeking work, but my Desire to have a flexible schedule and use my writing abilities is FAR GREATER than my fear of promoting myself. 

So the first few months of 2017 found me not-working, but researching the ins and outs of being a freelance business writer, preparing myself to start seeking out clients, getting all my plans and preparations in place. I was getting close to being ready, when unfortunately, I hit a snag. Well, a few of them. Life got hard as I fell into a place of crisis, after a triple-whammy of events along with difficult issues.

But more about that next time!


  1. Rita

    I’ve heard people say, “looking for a job is a full-time job” and it is SO true! OMG! I am looking for a new job. I have found free online classes about writing a resume etc….. It is helping me feel more confident while I’m competing with the millennials out there! I’m also trying to believe and know there is something exciting around the corner, but it is hard to stay positive.
    I’m interested to hear more about your process and what is and isn’t working for you! Thanks for being brave and sharing!!
    Brene Brown is on point. I think the universe is doing this with me. Exciting and scary as hell! Jumping without a safety net has never been my MO.
    Take care and good luck. I hope your snags loosen!

    • Theresa Alberti

      Thanks, Rita! I totally get that looking for a job is SO time-consuming. I’ve put in a lot of work revamping my resume and my freelance writing website, and learning more about networking and using LinkedIn. Good luck with your search… I’ll be there *is* something exciting around the corner. I’ll look forward to getting together with you soon and discussing all this more.

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