By Thao Nguyen
Graduating during the Covid-19 pandemic means many things. There is a feeling of relief because you’ve seen the last of online classes but there is also frustration at leaving university with a pending congregation. However, anxiety may take the reins as work life seems all the more confusing given the current climate.
After a year of online studying and working from home, I decided to stay in Vietnam havingaccepted a job offer. I would be working for a UK-founded but now fully remote company called Reedsy. As it turns out, the life of a so-called ‘digital nomad’ wasn’t as far from reach as I’d previously thought.
However, to call myself a digital nomad is somewhat misleading given the pandemic. I’ve yet to travel anywhere outside of Vietnam. Indeed, we’ve spent the last month in lockdown, lingering far behind high-income countries in terms of vaccination. That said, I have been given the opportunity to work remotely in a field I’m interested in, that can be otherwise hard to access in Vietnam: English-language publishing.
Throughout my second and third years of university, I interned part-time with Reedsy which helped me get the job I have with them now. The company is a publishing marketplace where authors can find publishing professionals. I’d found out about them in one of the emails that the Careers & Enterprise Centre sends out to students. Before interning at Reedsy, I had only worked as a part-time copywriter for a short time and as a contributor for Palatinate.
A career consultant at university gave me a document pack on consulting since many History students, like myself, take this path to avoid low-paying jobs. However, consulting wasn’t the dream career of my childhood. What I dreamt of was working in a publishing house, somewhere in London. I would be always armed with a coffee cup and growing savvy to the cogs and wheels turning behind the leading book launches. I kept a lookout for publishing internships too, so all my hopes weren’t put into Reedsy as an officeless company that operates in the indie publishing realm.
Yet working at Reedsy has been one of the most rewarding experiences so far in my short life. In my role as a content marketer, I work on things I am passionate about. This includes writing about self-publishing books, reading wonderful short stories from emerging authors, and talking to industry experts about publishing careers.
I’ve learnt a lot about digital marketing, spanning from SEO and backlinks to the mechanics behind Google searches. Yet perhaps most importantly, I’ve been exposed to a working world that’s quite different from what I’d been taught to expect.
It can be too easy to take a longer lunch break and tell yourself that you can make up for it later. This can lead to a cycle of making up time rather than simply working. It’s rather like university, but now you’re a working adult who should be responsible enough not to cram everything up to the last minute. I’ve found it to be an interesting exercise for self-discipline and mindfulness about how you work best. Without a nine-to-five to guard me, I get to pick the hours that I found most productive for tasks that need to get done.
It’s also true that it can get lonely. I’ve only met one of my colleagues, and only because I knew her from Durham before she came to work at Reedsy as well. When I get up in the morning in Vietnam, my European colleagues are still asleep. Some days I start early to have the ‘office’ to myself; other days I take the morning slow and join them after my lunch.
To their credit, the team here at Reedsy have been welcoming beyond my expectations. After all, I’ve heard my fair share of stressful work stories, especially from minority groups. The team host virtual pub quizzes, baking sessions, and a book club (as is to be expected of a publishing company)! If I had chosen to live in the UK, I might have joined their offline work sessions too. Who knows, once the pandemic subsides, the tradition of an annual company trip may return, and I can finally see the whole team in person.
I’m sure I’m missing out on plenty of positives that come with working in an office. I can’t tell you what my feelings about remote working might have been if there were no pandemic to keep me home all the time. However, I can say that the prospect of working from wherever you are in the world, so long as there’s Wi-Fi, is exciting (especially once we get to travel again).
Being able to work in a field you are passionate about, even if it is geographically out of reach, is hopeful and rewarding. In the end, there may well be more for you out there than that well-paid office job everyone encourages you to pursue.
Photo: Nguyen Dang Hoang via Unsplash.