A lot of people have asked why I haven’t been writing lately. It’s because I’ve had a good deal going on. Along with the usual classes and my third moot court competition, I’ve been conducting a job search. Tomorrow (Monday morning) I’ll be handing in my resignation at Nationwide.
It’s been a long ride there. I started as a college intern in 1999 and got the chance to be promoted from that lowly title three times. Along the way I’ve gotten to work with some really smart people, some really dumb people, and some people in the middle. I was sent to California on business trips three times (none of which, I’ll admit now, involved very much business, but did include nude beaches) and to see the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina just a couple weeks after it hit. I also had to go to Des Moines. Other than that, they treated me very well, and I’m sorry to go.
It was a good job — at parties, I had the perfect response to that face and the question, “So, like, what are you doing with your… geography degree?” Answer: “I’m a geographer.”
I was also a systems architect, programmer, documenter, intra-company salesman, and general know-it-all (“SME” — subject matter expert). Mostly, I realize now, what I learned was about people; how they’re all motivated differently, learn differently, and care in differing degrees about their jobs and the way they’re perceived to be doing them. I didn’t always do the best with the knowledge I had, but I’ve had a million chances to try getting along with people I didn’t always agree with, understand, or like. You really don’t have a choice in who you get, and that makes life interesting. The chance to get to know hundreds in a professional capacity was the best part about the job.
I also got to know bureaucracy. Gosh, do I hate it. At NW, rules are meant to be broken, but only if you apply in advance, generate a requirements document, and have a valid disbursement code. I am looking forward to never hearing the words “deliverable,” “mentee,” or “SLA” again. I used to joke about Nationwide being “the Evil Empire,” but I now think we’re just so big we can’t help but blunder things by accident, like a giant dog kicking and running in its sleep. As Douglas Adams wrote about the Earth, “Mostly harmless.”
My new jobs are exciting. For the spring semester, I’ll be working for a federal judge, assisting with research and the judicial process where I can. I’ll also be working in a law firm clerkship. I am very excited about both jobs because they’re a chance to finally get my hands into some real cases and start working instead of just learning. Obviously, though, I know both jobs are going to be a learning experience, and I can’t wait to get started and see what I can do.
There will be more time to write about those when they happen — I am planning to start in the middle of January. For now, I’m thinking about the end of my eight years with The ‘Wide. When I was a kid, my dad the insurance agent would drive us past Nationwide and say, “Don’t work for Nationwide!” Why not, I’d ask. “They’re not even price competitive in their home market. Besides, you’ll get married, you’ll get a mortgage, and you’ll be sucked in and never be able to leave. Nah, you should get out and see the world first.” I was three or four at the time, but it was good advice, and it almost happened to me. Tomorrow is the beginning of leaving that orbit for an unknown trajectory in the law. I’m thrilled to find out what happens next.