Final personal post for a bit, I hope! Then I’ll be back to blogging some more fun stuff from the past few months. I’ve travelled quite a bit and all the photos are still on my phone/laptop (some have been shared to social media) but with the career change and job hunt weighing down on me the past couple of months I’ve found it difficult to write anything light-hearted for a while.
Still, it’s now 2017 and I think certainly worth a reflection on the past year; a year of blessings, a year of hardship, a year of trials and a year of triumph. But most of all, a year of equipping me with vital spiritual gifts to take on challenges yet to come.
Last year my prayer was to grow in faith and patience.
Pretty much immediately after that, Skimlinks asked me to move to New York. From a business perspective, it made sense. From a personal perspective, it sucked. From God’s perspective, it was exactly what I needed.
I’d only just settled into LA, gotten into a routine and found myself a church family/community that I was so close to it surprised all of us when we realised how short of a time I’d actually been there for. I had literally just uprooted my life from the other side of the world to tough it out in a new country, new city, new environment by myself (and gone through a break up with the guy I’d moved for pretty much immediately after moving) and no sooner had I felt a little more at peace I was facing potentially another move again.
This time, it was to a city I really didn’t want to be in. No offence to New York – I thought it was a great city to visit, but there was a reason I left London and wanted to move to LA, and going back to that kind of environment really wasn’t what I’d signed up for.
But my prayer was being answered, and miracles happened.
I agreed to move for an initial period of 6 months. They agreed to sponsor my H-1B so that I could come back to LA after those months and find another job at another company if I needed to, should I actually be able to get the visa and not wish to stay in New York after 6 months. If I chose not to stay in NYC, they would move me back to LA, ‘let me go’ and put me on garden leave as they paid me severance.
At the time I was on an E1-B, which is a treaty trade investor visa and was tied to my company. The visa I was applying for would allow me to work for any company willing to sponsor my visa in future, but had a deadline of April 1st (or hard and final deadline of the first week of April, which turned out to be April 7/8th) and, by the time the agreement had been finalised, it was mid-March.
The H-1B is also capped at 60,000 visas/year, or if you have a Master’s degree, there are an extra 20,000 visas available, and is chosen based on a lottery system. The previous year, there were over 320,000 applications. That year, the number of applications received were expected to further increase. The number of visas offered did not.
Finally, even if your application gets picked in the lottery, it still had to be approved.
I have a Bachelor’s degree.
I spoke to a lawyer who advised me that the chances of my application getting picked in the first place was less than 20%. Then the chances of it getting approved was only about 60-70%. All in all, my chances were very slim, but I had to try, and figured if God wanted me to have the visa, it would happen.
By His grace we submitted my H-1B application on the day of the final deadline. 15 days later I found out that it’d been picked in the lottery. A month after that (processing time), I received the email from the lawyer telling me my application had been approved.
When I first started working at Skimlinks, I had been so ambitious. I wanted to get far, grow further, and start my own company one day. Somewhere along the line after moving to the States (maybe it was loneliness, post-moving anxiety, post-breakup depression, whatever), I felt like I’d lost myself. I’d lost sight of who I was and where I was going. I was stronger in faith than I ever had been and knew more doctrine than all my previous years of being a Christian combined, but I’d also become very, very proud.
During my time in New York, I was broken and re-built. I found a new church family and a close sister who would keep me accountable, have healthy debates with me on all sorts of subjects, and I think, being alone and away from everyone and everything, I found myself again. Rather, God found me.
I felt a peace away from pain that I hadn’t known in a while. I rediscovered old friendships and memories I thought I’d lost. I saw the East Coast in all of its autumnal glory and was left breathless with awe. I visited Ivy League unis for kicks. I took a selfie with the Statue of Liberty. I got a library card and got back into reading.
Despite thinking I’d hate it and being in a city I did not want to live in, I felt blessed and happy.
I felt God working. And I think when the decision had been made for me to return to LA after all, a few months into my move, that’s when I began to really live in NY to the fullest. I knew my time there was limited, so why not enjoy it. I ended up staying for an extra month and moving back to LA at the end of November.
As to why I didn’t just stay in NYC completely, aside from feeling called back to LA and not being able to handle the wintery weather, I don’t think it’d be good to share the whole truth online but it really worked out well. I bid Skim a fond farewell, and they supported me fully in my job hunt for my next challenge.
My job hunt had been, for me, long and exhausting. All in all, my total serious job hunt time had only been about 1.5months, but during that time I had so many interviews with so many different companies, that I was getting very worn out towards the end. After the 8th round interview with one company and still no offer from them yet, I’d almost given up hope.
I was feeling anxious, but in my mind I knew that if God wanted me to have a job, He’d provide.
The following week, I received an offer on Weds (which I declined), another offer from another company on Thurs, their revised offer on Fri (which I accepted), a signed contract on Fri, followed by an informal offer from another company on Sat (which I declined).
It all happened so fast – all the companies I’d interviewed with previously hadn’t worked out. The one I accepted literally just got in touch on Weds (4th), at which point I mentioned I was on a deadline, and that same Friday (6th) they replied they’d work according to my timeline. I interviewed on Friday, then Monday in person, then sent them references and completed some ‘homework’ on Tuesday, then had a final meeting on Wednesday. On Thursday, I received my offer from them.
The funny thing is, I’d interviewed with them 2 months prior without thinking much of it (we had a phone interview, I followed up then never heard back) so when HR got in touch through a different site, I thought she made a mistake contacting me. It turns out the previous interviewer liked me, but thought I was over-qualified. Then when this position came up, HR got in touch, and… it worked out.
It reminds me a lot of my interview process with Skimlinks 5yrs; HR got in touch with me about a role I hadn’t applied for, I interviewed and wasn’t able to join for that position, then months later interviewed for another role and got the job. The rest is history.
With this one, I had pretty much broken down in tears on Weds (4th), praying that my hunt would be over that week. When I hadn’t received an offer by the end of the week, I was disheartened. Looking back, I guess God answered my prayers by having that company reach out suddenly on Weds (4th), start my interview process with them by the end of that week, and make me an offer within a week.
If you follow my Instagram you’d know that today I was supposed to start my new job, but I found out that due to some minor complications with my visa, I have to wait until it’s been approved before I can start working. This would set my start date to mid-Feb, meaning I now get an extra 3 weeks or so to relax.
I started working the day after my final exam at Uni and pretty much didn’t stop since. I was already thankful for having one week truly off where I could just relax without worrying about finding a job, but now I’ve been blessed with the longer break I’d been hoping for but didn’t dare ask. God is really too good to me.
This year, my prayer is to grow in holiness and righteousness, having been inspired by Psalms via a Bible reading plan I’ve been going through. It’ll be hard. It’ll be fun. It’ll be challenging. It’ll be necessary. I won’t be able to do it alone, but PTL, I don’t have to.