The new gig

Pays better, has benefits and I get to work from home. I’m the newest addition to the staff of Insurance Journal, a trade magazine for property/casualty agents and brokers. IJ is based in San Diego, Calif., and its print edition is only distributed in the West and some Southern states, including Texas.

But IJ’s online news coverage is international in scope, and I’m the new man in Chicago to cover the goings on in the Midwest. The mag hopes to roll out a print edition for the Midwest by the end of the year, which means this is really a growth opportunity. Since there’s no IJ office in Chicago, I’m working from home. That has its pluses and minuses, but it does mean I can avoid the brutally cold five-minute wait on the “L” platform twice a day.

I flew out to San Diego last week and was offered the job at the end of lunch at King’s Fish House. I met the staff there and everyone was very laid back and friendly. The publisher, Mark Wells Jr., has been in the business for 30 years and was as friendly and nice as could be. I was a bit worried that the job might overwhelm me, seeing as how my knowledge of the industry is not deep. But from meeting some of the other staffers, it’s clear that IJ grooms their reporters into the magazine.

In my job search, I cast a very wide net for practical purposes. Limiting myself to Chicago and not having much experience, I couldn’t afford to be choosy. And I decided to essentially let my next job determine my career path, unless I absolutely hated it. But trade reporting is something that has appealed to me for a while. It allows me to really understand one sector or subject in-depth, to essentially become an expert.

That expertise can be rolled into freelance assignments of all kinds, and it will especially give me a leg up if I ever wound up in the libertarian policy-wonk world, which seems unlikely but one never knows.