Dreams Come True: From Finding Your Thing To Work That Matters (at night!)
In this series, I’m writing about accomplished people who forged their own unique path to a thriving career. What’s special about them is that they were able to connect their essential selves to work they love. Over the next few articles I’m going to share their stories so you can see how they got to where they are. Their stories are inspiring – if they can do it, you can do it too.
For some people, like today’s subject, their path to a career wasn’t obvious until suddenly, it was. Something unexpected just clicks for them and turns on an inner sense that THIS IS IT. And they keep going in that direction.
Let me introduce you to Jade Walker. Jade is the overnight editor at the Huffington Post.
Why was she drawn to overnight work? In her words:
“I really hate the daytime. I hate the sunlight. When I’m walking down the street I instinctively go to the shady side. My friends actually joke that I probably ran into a vampire sometime in college and it just didn’t finish the whole drinking process – I got the night part but I didn’t get any of the immortality.”
In case you’re wondering if she really means what she says about sunlight and daytime:
“I don’t like light. I like it dark. It’s comforting. I just don’t like the sun. The sun is just so oppressive and evil and cruel and harsh."
Jade discovered her ideal career by chance:
“When I was a senior in high school I was the editor-in-chief of my school paper and then I got an internship at the local newspaper and one of the first things they had me do was spend Friday nights, all night long, riding with the fire department, going on all their calls. As soon as I switched to that schedule I just knew that’s what I should be biologically living in.”
Instead of trying to force herself to fit uncomfortably into a conventional daytime schedule, Jade works in a way that suits her vampire nature.
“It’s definitely been my calling. I’ve been doing it for 25 years now. I started out in print newspapers and then I switched to online media. Did a bunch of freelancing and then I worked as the overnight editor for the New York Times, the Associated Press, Yahoo News and now the Huffington Post. I work from 9:00 at night to 7:00 in the morning, Sunday through Thursday. I run the whole website. At about midnight, everybody else goes home and they transfer the website to me and then it’s my job to make sure that all breaking news is covered and out on the various social media networks.”
“You have to be prepared for everything because you’re literally alone. I am the only overnight editor at the Huffington Post. There is nobody but me (and then I have some writers throughout the world that I work with). When I worked at the Times there were two overnight editors. We would each work four-day weeks and crossover on one day. I was there for four years and during those four years I went through three other overnight editors because they mostly didn’t last for more than six months to a year. I always lasted.”
For Jade, this work is her professional heaven.
“The great thing about my job is there is never a day where I know what’s going to happen or everything is happening the same every single day. It’s always something new. It’s always something different.”
“I work solely from home. When I worked at the NY Times I would sit in an empty building by myself. I’d go into work and my only real interactions with people were either the delivery guy who would deliver my dinner at 2:00 in the morning or the correspondents overseas who I’d be working with. It seemed silly to sit in an empty building when I could just as easily do the exact same job anywhere in the world. Why not do it from home?”
“We have five cats and a big 90lb dog. The dog actually sleeps right behind my chair at all times. Whenever I need a break I can turn around in my chair and he’s right there for me to rub his belly. I have a cat that sleeps behind my head on the top of my chair so there’s always this fuzzy warmth around me and whenever I want, I can lean up and give her love. My youngest cat, she’ll come by. I lift her up and put her on my chest, she falls asleep and I continue to lean back in my chair and work around her body. I have a rule that if any cat or dog pops up next to me demanding affection, I have to stop what I do and give it to them. It helps ground me, it helps get me back to the present and not so focused on what’s happening thousands of miles away.”
“There are so many things I love about working at night. I love that there are very few bosses. I love the quiet. I also like being able to do a job where the rest of the world is sleeping and when they wake up everything is there for them. I’m there at 3:00 in the morning when something blows up, when a natural disaster occurs, so that I can get people during the day prepared for what has happened.”
“It’s a lifestyle that most people just don’t get. Sometimes it can be kind of frustrating when the rest of the world lives one way and you just don’t. You know, you gotta do your own thing.”
Thanks to the podcast Nocturne for inviting Jade Walker to share her story. Listen here.