The next, next thing: My new job at Microsoft, in Seattle

by Chris on June 10, 2010

I’m packing, yet again. My new job at Microsoft starts Monday. What I’ve learned these past six months and what I’ll do going forward. Yadda yadda yadda.

I’m packing, again.

No news there. In the past six months since I’ve left USA TODAY, I flung myself full force into the out-of-a-suitcase life of a travel writer.

And hell yeah, it’s been fun. I went on two small ship sailing cruises throughout the Caribbean, dined at four-star Michelin restaurants in Paris and explored the world near and far, from Israel to Ohio’s Hocking Hills. I took press trips, for better or worse, something that I had never encountered before from my well-funded perch within the mainstream media. I received spa treatments and hot air balloon rides and overnight stays in some of the world’s nicest hotels. Nothing sucked there.

I also learned more than I could ever imagine. From my readers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers, I discovered that communication is a two-way street, that crowd-sourcing can work, as long as you cultivate the right crowd. More than ever, I’m convinced that journalism as I knew it has fundamentally changed, that the old business models of delivering information are doomed to fail and those of us who came up in the field need to adapt or get out of the way, like yesterday. Sometimes you need to be on the outside to see things straight.

One of the lessons learned: I am not wired to be a freelancer. I missed having colleagues. I missed having a steady paycheck. I missed being part of a larger team, working together on projects that had the potential to make a big impact. While some writers relish the freedom of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, I found it draining and depressing. That’s a character fault, and I admire greatly those who make it succeed.

On Monday, I start a new full-time job at Microsoft. I’m going to be a writer on the Windows team, helping consumers better understand, appreciate and use MS software. It’s a multi-platform gig, for an international audience. It’s going to use all the skills that I developed as a journalist – beat reporting, editorial judgment, reaching readers where they live – and introduce lots of new ones. I’m excited to take it all in.

It means moving to Seattle, thus the packing. I hadn’t planned on living in three major U.S. cities in less than a year, but hey, sometimes opportunities surprise you. I’ve worked in every area of the country except the Pacific Northwest, so I’m looking forward to exploring the region. And yes, I have heard that it rains; I believe a light box will be in my future.

Will I miss the newsroom? Of course I will. I’ve never worked anywhere except one, for the past 20 years. But let’s be honest: the quality of life within most newsrooms has radically diminished over the past five years. Long before my exit, I saw good people forced out and benefits being cut and editorial decisions made for the wrong reasons. And at the end, the profession acted like a bad boyfriend toward me. No one wants to be the woman who goes back to a bad boyfriend.

And what about this travel blog? I’m going to keep it going. You’ll see me at TBEX later this month and SATW in Germany in October and in other places where travel writers, editors and bloggers gather. I’ve come to love blogging, sharing the personal joys and travails of my experiences with others. That won’t change, even as my job title does. Journalism as a hobby? It could be the next, next thing.

See you on the road!

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy Hayes | Sharing Travel Experiences June 10, 2010 at 11:46 am

Congrats on the new job, and the new backdrop! Sounds like a great role – am sure you’ll find some new adventures with the Microsoft team.

Reply

Chris (Amateur Traveler) June 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Chris,

Congratulations on the new job!

Reply

Kat June 10, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Great post! I didn’t realize that this was coming up so soon. Happy trails- look forward to reading about the Pacific Northwest!

Reply

Sarah June 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm

All the best, Chris! I know you’ll love Seattle and the job sounds perfect! I also know you’ll be back ‘on the road’ when possible. Once we get the bug, it never goes away… Hope to see you soon in San Fran!

Reply

Emily June 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Good luck, Chris. I’m very happy to hear you’re not giving up your “hobby.” I enjoy the posts and look forward to many more – with a new Pac NW flair. See you in Germany.

Reply

brian June 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Congrats on your new position. Freelancing and going out on your own is not for everyone. Not a character fault, just not for you. Nothing wrong with that.

I hear Seattle is a great city. Enjoy!

Reply

Chris June 16, 2010 at 10:40 am

Aw, thanks, Brian. That’s nice of you to say. I wish I had the personality to make it work, as it seems more fun. But you gotta be true to yourself.

Reply

Katie June 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Chris, Congrats on the new position! Seattle is great in the summer–make sure to visit the San Juans, too as they’re gorgeous. I’m glad you’ll be keeping up this blog!

Reply

Lisa @ The World is Calling June 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Congratulations. I love to watch how talent can be reshaped into something new, but at its core, remain the same. Rebirthed, in a way. I know you’ll be a great asset to Microsoft.

Reply

Camels & Chocolate June 21, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Wow, congrats, Chris–that’s amazing! Let me know if you ever find yourself in SF. And, yes, it takes a special kind to be a full-time freelancer…though in the three years since I left a cushy magazine office and went that route, I couldn’t imagine myself back in a cube! Different strokes!

Reply

Federico @ maitravelsite June 30, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Congratulations on your new job Chris.

I totally understand you, particularly regarding the paycheck at the end of the month. Blogging is a magnificent source of income for some, for other its enough, and yet for others not even close. If I was in the first group it’d be great, but I am not. Not even close, so I need a job as well…which by the way I don’t have either! So I’m on the lookout, will see what happens. In the meantime travel is a passion that I can’t give up, and as long as there is something new to see or experience, I’ll be on the road sooner than later. And I’ll have my blog to share with others and to keep as a memory.

Cheers,
Federico

Reply

Sheila Scarborough July 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm

So happy that we had a chance to meet briefly at TBEX, Chris, and I’m thrilled for your new opportunity. Hope we can connect for more time maybe at BlogWorld, SXSWi or certainly TBEX 2011. 🙂

Reply

Chris July 21, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Thanks, Sheila! I’m glad we met at TBEX too, because you are one of those people who I follow closely on Twitter. I always want to see what you’re saying! BlogWorld conflicts with SATW, but I’m curious about SXSW…I’d love to go (I absolutely love Austin). Maybe I can make that happen next year. And I’m already signed up for TBEX ’11!

Reply

Julie Ovenell-Carter July 29, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Hey Chris,

thanks for your frankness and good luck with your new gig. You’ll love Seattle (I’m a neighbour to the north in Vancouver, which you will see at TBEX11!)

I was just talking to my husband about this the other day: many of us who came up in mainstream journalism are facing the reality that we may have to apply our talents differently to pay the mortgage.

For the past several years, I’ve had a really sweet part-time position at a local university and I can’t tell you how many times a day I get calls from ex-media pals desperately looking for work in the broader communications trenches.

I hope you will be able to keep all your balls in the air while you get up to speed in the new job. Your blog is a real pleasure to read and I’d hate for you to abandon it (but maybe it will morph into something else).

Good luck with the sea-change (literally and figuratively!) and if you ever do make it up to Vancouver please let me know if I can help you with your planning…

all best
Julie

Reply

Chris July 30, 2010 at 10:41 am

Julie –

Thanks for the well wishes! Right now the arrangement seems to be giving me the best of both worlds (paid work and blogging). We’ll see how long I can do both. Two posts a week seems manageable. And I’m still traveling, mainly because this corner of the world has so many places to explore! So I see keeping it going for the near future.

But yes, you are right. Mainstream journalists are going to have to look farther afield as the jobs dry up. The good news is that I’ve found the transition to be fairly painless. Writing is writing, no matter where you do it. And good communication skills are in high demand in corporate America, should people want to go that route.

Thanks for commenting and I’d love to touch base up in Vancouver sometime!

Reply

Mr. P September 27, 2010 at 8:25 am

Great post… We must be leading parallel lives. Made my name in investigative reporting in Central Europe. Ran a regional newswire and was burned bad in the end when an MBA came in, fired my staff and made it impossible to put out a product. To no surprise, the organization pulled out of Central Europe and although I changed jobs it was still like going down with the ship.

Who needs journalists, right? Who needs fact checking? Objective reporting in business and politics.

We’re all going to pay for this later, but unfortunately, journos are paying for it now.

And good luck. I actually have a similar job now in a cell phone apps company.

P

Reply

Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: