New Job! A few personal updates

New Job! A few personal updates July 31, 2022

Longtime readers will know my story thus far:  after blogging as a hobby for a good five years, I left the world of formal employment back four years ago for a new venture, that of hanging my shingle out as a freelance writer and independent actuary, as my business cards read — or, rather, that was intended to be a stepping stone to some other employment, though I hadn’t figured out what, yet.

Did I succeed?  Honestly, probably not.  I had had several objectives.  I had hoped to earn enough money writing with my Forbes platform to consider myself able to “earn a living” in some modest sense, but the initial success I had in building up an audience faded away when Forbes instituted its paywall.  I’m not judging their business decisions — I have no line of sight into what their results look like and for all I know they had been operating at a loss beforehand, and it’s my understanding that covid reduced ad revenues everywhere (even though you’d think that the rise in working-at-home would have had the opposite effect), but it is what it is.  To have truly been successful would have required figuring out how to get the attention of other writing platforms and — let’s face it — to have developed more skill at in-depth researching.  (Ironically, just a couple months ago, I was contacted by someone at another platform offering a different freelance writing gig on personal finance, though that would have required a different sort of skill and a willingness and ability to dash off “how to save for retirement” type pieces instead of “what is Congress doing?”)  I had also hoped to build the sort of connections that would mean that I would be viewed as an expert source, or someone to involve in the conversation, when it came to issues like public pensions or Social Security.  And I really would have wanted the freelancing to be an interim step towards a job in the field, in a think tank or research institute.

This did not happen.  My dream job, as it happens, would have been at a research institute specifically focused on retirement, but the one such entity that exists, is located in Boston and doesn’t have any interest in hiring someone remotely.  Other such “dream jobs” really want someone with mad technical skills, and there are so many people who want this sort of “think smart thoughts” type of job that they can be pretty picky.  Near as I could figure, prospective employers were really more interested in the technical skills than the interest in the topic — and even as I took my classes in earning the Applied Economics degree, it certainly seemed that it was the norm to land in a given specialty not because of a particular interest but because you’d figured out a research method that was achievable.  It also became clear that, as far as the public policy piece of it goes, there are simply boatloads of people trying to get into that space.  I might think my ideas are better than that of a Zoomer with no life experience, but employers don’t really care.  Besides which, there are so few such jobs that generalizing is also a mistake.  And in any case, the one-year master’s program was enough for me to learn to interpret economics papers and to know that I did not want to learn the math at the more advanced level necessary to actually write such papers to get the Ph.D. that is a prerequisite to many such jobs.

So in the midst of my deliberations about what to do next after finishing the program, I ended up connecting with someone at a health insurance company, had a few more conversations and formal interviews, and I am now a reserving health insurance actuary.  Is it a job which enables me to Change The World?  No.  It’s a job that pays well, has good work-life balance, allows me to work from home, and — key point here — was willing to hire me based on my sales pitch of “I’m a credentialed actuary with a rudimentary grasp of health insurance and a demonstrated ability to learn new things,” and a month into the job it’s “so far, so good,” though I don’t yet have a strong sense of how my job responsibilities will look over time.

And right now I feel like I’m trying to figure out, “where next?” in other ways.  How diligently do I want to keep up with developments in retirement policy, public pensions, Social Security, etc.?  I’m already well aware that I had given up on trying to write about every newsworthy retirement topic, but having gone from small-time blogger excited about small-time-blogger level of page views, to Forbes author and sporadic Federalist contributor, leaves me trying to figure out what my future blogging plans are, which I suspect will settle back into the “just have to write about something that’s bugging me!” rather than “I am going to persuade people by writing this!”

So stay tuned — or not — to see what I end up doing!

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