Focusing on my exit

This past weekend, my boss Matt Carson and coworker Jason Guyton came to Indianapolis for a departmental retreat. Naturally, the retreat was scheduled prior to me telling them that I’ll be joining the Peace Corps, for they learned of that news just five days earlier.

While the purpose of the retreat was to plan the department’s future and to envision how Carden Jennings Publishing will be serving the fraternal market in the coming years, we did spend a lot of time focusing on my exit and transition.

We decided that April 30 will be my last day as an employee. I think this will give me enough time to finish projects that I am working on and transition sales accounts smoothly.

More so, it gives me nearly a month to get ready for the Peace Corps. Here is a rough agenda:

  • April 30: Last day at Carden Jennings Publishing.
  • May 4 – 5: USAV Regional Volleyball Tournament
  • May 6 – 16: Move from Indianapolis to Raleigh
  • May 17 – 19: Attend brother’s graduation in Los Angeles
  • May 20 – 31: Family vacation in Hawaii
  • June 1 – 2: Raleigh, pack for Peace Corps
  • June 3 – 4: Miami, Peace Corps registration
  • June 5 – 7: Guyana, Peace Corps orientation
  • June 10 – Aug 16: Guyana, Peace Corps training
  • Aug 2002 – Aug 2004: Guyana, Peace Corps service

All in all, the retreat went well. While I will miss Carden Jennings Publishing, I wish them the best and hope that they will have continued success. It is a good company, one that I might return to upon completion of my service in Guyana.

Everyone I know is affected by my departure

Telling friends and family about my decision to join the Peace Corps brings mixed emotions. Some respond with excitement and countless of questions, while others display sadness and concern. Most are both happy for me, and sad to see me go.

While many of my friends respect and admire my independence, I often fail to realize what I mean to them. I clearly underestimated how my decision to join the Peace Corps affects others.

I knew that I would have to make many sacrifices (no income, no TV, no hot water, etc.), but hardly considered the many sacrifices that those who know me will also have to endure; and endure without a choice or say in the matter.

I now realize that everyone I know is affected by my departure. And I want to thank them for their support and apologize for my absence.

Jennifer Griggs: I’ll miss your birthdays, holidays, road trips, Brook’s wedding, pumpkin carving parties, and all of the many things that we have enjoyed doing together in the last three years.

Doug Finberg: My best friend from college, I’ll miss your wedding. I know I was just one of your few invited guests, so I realize how important it was for me to be there.

Ansley Paulson and Sean Torres: I’ll also miss your weddings. How I would have enjoyed attending both, catching up with friends, and sharing your important day.

C.A.M. Wagner and Aaron Ayscue: The two of you are going to be dads in the next six months. By the time I see your offspring; they will be two-years old. I’m happy for you both.

Volleyball Teammates: We have great dynamics on and off the court. I’m sorry that you will have to play without me. At least now you’ll have fewer passing errors.

These are just a few of the many friends that will be affected by my departure. I think you all are great, appreciate your support, and hope to keep in touch. May my remaining few months here in the USA be spent with each of you.

Told my boss I will be leaving

Today I told my boss that I will be leaving Carden Jennings Publishing in mid-May, which will give me enough time to prepare for my June 2 departure to Guyana. It was a difficult conversation for me, but he took it rather well. This is the basics of what I told him:

Matt,

I have some disappointing news that I need to share with you. Nearly two weeks ago, I received an invitation to join the Peace Corps.

I began the application process to serve as a volunteer while I was still with WeAlumni.com. And when I lost my job in January of 2001, I naturally tried to speed up the application process for it was a great time for me to serve. After all, I was unemployed, I was single, and I didn’t own a house or anything.

In fact, it started to look like the Peace Corps was not interested in me and that I would never receive an invitation. After all, it is a rather competitive process.

And once I accepted your offer in May, I had little contact with them at all; that is until a few weeks ago when I received an official invitation to serve with them in Guyana, which is in S. America.

Needless to say, I have put a lot of thought and careful consideration into this decision. And I realize that by accepting this invitation, I will be disappointing you and Carden Jennings for I will have failed to make the Indianapolis office profitable.

Yet as I contemplated my options, I realized that my hesitation to become a Peace Corps volunteer was not due to a fear of catching malaria or yellow fever, or the fact that I will be leaving friends and family behind for two years.

Instead, the thing that troubled me the most was this phone call.

You put your trust and resources in me and by leaving, I will have let you down. I don’t like letting people down.

But once I realized that the main thing that was keeping me from accepting the invitation was my employment with you, I had no choice but to accept. For I would have been unhappy and regretful had I passed up this opportunity.

So this means that I will likely need to leave Carden Jennings by mid-May, for my Peace Corps service begins the first of June.

I am fortunate to have spent my last year under Matt’s guidance and management. This upcoming weekend, he and a coworker will be coming to Indianapolis for the three of us to hold a retreat to plan the future of our department’s business and services. I am glad that Matt is still interested in holding the retreat and seeks my involvement. While I will not be around to implement the plans that we will develop, I believe in CJP and hope that it will prosper after my departure.

Leaving a company that you care about and a job that you enjoy is no easy task. I am grateful that Matt took the news so well and considers my departure in good standing. It is a relief to have this discussion behind me, taking me one step closer to becoming a Peace Corps volunteer.

I’m going to be a Peace Corps volunteer

I did it. I am now a Peace Corps Volunteer, or at least I have promised to become an official volunteer starting this June 2002.

It feels great to have reached this decision. I seem to have acquired a permanent grin that has attached itself to my face, as well as the inability to sit still. I find myself walking around my apartment talking to myself with excitement, saying, “I’m going to be a Peace Corps volunteer. I’m moving to Guyana. I’m going to have to learn how to like cold showers.”

Oh it is such a relief to accept this invitation. While coming to a decision was quite difficult, accepting the invitation was rather easy. Basically, I sent out this simple email:

—–Original Message—–
From: Jason.Pearce.net [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2002 2:55 PM
To: Sylvie Mortimer
Cc: [email protected]
Subject: Acceptance of Peace Corps Guyana Invitation

Sylvia,

I am pleased to inform you that after careful consideration, I accept your offer to serve as an Information Technology community education promoter for the Guyana – Poverty Alleviation Program (GUY10). My Peace Corps Registration will begin on June 3 in Miami.

Please confirm that you have received my decision to accept this invitation. And again, thank you for offering me this opportunity.

Jason Pearce
(317) 490-7080 cell
[email protected]
https://jason.pearce.net

And I got this in return:

—–Original Message—–
From: Mortimer, Sylvie [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2002 2:59 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Acceptance of Peace Corps Guyana Invitation

Got it– great. Congrats!

That’s all it took. Just a few simple words. Wow.

I’m going to be a Peace Corps volunteer. I’m moving to Guyana. I’m going to have to learn how to like cold showers.

I am going to accept an invitation to become a Peace Corps volunteer

Today I am going to accept an invitation to become a Peace Corps volunteer in Guyana, South America. After spending nearly two years in the application process, I finally received my invitation about a week ago. I have created this Monologue section of my site to help me document what is bound to be the most challenging and exciting adventure I will undertake.

Accepting this invitation is no easy decision, for I will be agreeing to spend the next two years (without pay) helping the less fortunate in a poverty stricken country. I will be leaving behind the comforts of hot showers, air-conditioned rooms, high-speed Internet access, my cell phone, my car, 173 television stations, and my Xbox.

Yet the Peace Corps opportunity is still appealing to me.

While I am fortunate to have visited more than 40 countries, my brief visits and vacations fail to give me true insight of a distant culture. I want to LIVE abroad, not just to visit.

A few years ago, the Peace Corps added two new focuses to the list of services that its volunteers offer developing nations. The focus that interested me was that of Information Technology.

I find the idea of helping a developing nation build its IT services while teaching its citizens how to use and harness the power of computers quite enticing. I suppose it is similar to the dot-com attraction I had several years ago, only much bigger and much more influential.

Of the 30 Peace Corps volunteers currently stationed in Guyana, I will be one of only three who are currently working within the IT focus. There will be much for me to learn, particularly when it comes to hardware, computer repair, setting up local area networks, and establishing Internet connections. In fact, my HTML and graphic design skills may hardly come into play.

Fewer than a third of all applicants are extended an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps. While this will be a big move and commitment, I’ve decided that it is worth the risk and accept this honor.

I know that my friends and family will always be there and in support no matter where I am or what I am doing. So leaving them “behind” for two years will not be much of an issue.

What has worried me the most is that I will be leaving my employer after spending only one year attempting to open a profitable office in Indianapolis. My employer has invested more resources in me and the Indianapolis office than I have been able to generate new sales or revenue.

Leaving my employer to join the Peace Corps will make my efforts here a failure. Acceptance of my failure and disappointment of my early departure is what has troubled me the most. I’m not concerned about Malaria carrying mosquitoes, nine months of rain, or getting sick from drinking the water. I’ve been holding off accepting this invitation because of how my decision will affect my employer.

I’m ready to join the Peace Corps. I’m ready for the challenge. And if I was currently unemployed, this would be a good time for me to go. I don’t own a house, I’m not married, I have no pets, I have no car payment or student loans to pay, and I’m about to turn 30.

So I have decided to accept the disappointment that I will likely bring my employer once I tell them the news. I’m going to join the Peace Corps.