As you may have expected, I’ve settled in to life in America quite nicely. The first few days and weeks were full of rediscovering the joys of hot showers, diverse food, afternoons spent at the golf course, and spending lots of time with my family. I opened boxes of my old things and suddenly had a whole “new” wardrobe. I taught Spencer and Kenzie the card game that we played so often in Indonesia. I cautiously drove my car, repeating “right, right, right.” And… I interviewed for a job in downtown Seattle.
In April and May, I’d been applying to a dozen + jobs in Seattle trying to have a plan for what I was doing once I got back. I intended to find something short term in Seattle for the summer and then possibly move out to DC come August/September and find a full-time job out there. Well, the week before coming home, I woke up to an email from a marketing and communications firm in Seattle asking for an interview for a research internship I had applied to. I interviewed with them as soon as I got home and knew as soon as I walked out of the interview that I really wanted this opportunity.
I didn’t know anything about market research or public opinion research at the time, but I do have research experience – I did two fairly substantial research projects my senior year at WU and figured I could analyze data and write reports… I heard back pretty quickly and was offered the position!
I’m now eight weeks into my time at PRR and loving every minute of it. I’m on a team with three other brilliant women researchers as well as Bruce (also brilliant but I’m all about the girl power), who leads our department. I help out with every aspect of the research process from editing proposals, programming surveys, and conducting literature reviews, to analyzing data, writing reports, and more. Our clients are generally in the public sector, so we work with a lot of government agencies. We specialize in transportation, urban planning, sustainability, and healthcare, which are generally new fields for me but so interesting once you dig into them!
I never would have thought I’d be solving Seattle’s transportation challenges but… here we are! I have always been a problem solver and someone interested in monitoring and evaluation – plus, I believe strongly in public involvement in policy decision-making… and that’s exactly what I’m doing! Through our surveys, I help to facilitate the public’s involvement in high-level policy issues – like evaluating the public’s attitude towards alternatives to fuel tax so Departments of Transportations across the country can make informed and appropriate decisions for their communities.
After a few weeks of commuting to downtown Seattle from my parent’s house in Lynnwood (1 hour+ each way), I realized several things: it was a long and relatively expensive bus commute; I couldn’t have a social life living in Lynnwood and working in Seattle; Seattle is a totally cool city and I wanted to explore more of it; and I might actually want to call Seattle home for longer than just the summer…
So, I found a lovely couple in Queen Anne to move in with for the summer and now live in a fabulous neighborhood, walking distance from the Space Needle, quick hops to some of the coolest neighborhoods Seattle has to offer, with spectacular views of the city and the Puget Sound, and only a 15 minute bus ride to work. Everything has worked out wonderfully and I can assure you I am living my newfound Seattle/American life to the fullest.
The future is still a bit hazy but it’s coming into focus. I will be signing a year-long lease to stay in my apartment and just finished a week of stressful Craigslist roommate searching. Unfortunately, there were too many wonderful people who wanted to live with me and I had such a hard time deciding! But, I’ve chosen a wonderful girl to be my roommate and I think we’ll have a fabulous time over this next year! And I’m working hard every day in the hope that PRR will hire me full time. They have dropped many positive hints so I’m hoping things continue to move in that direction!
All in all, it’s been a wonderful transition and I couldn’t be more excited about the future. Hmu if you’re in/coming through Seattle in the next year!