Saying 'Good Journey' to you all...
I've never once been described as a heart-on-the-sleeve, Bridget-Jones-watching, effeminate bridezilla, but today an ambivalent gamut of emotions washes over me, like a mirror-touch synesthetic observing the tactile embrace of two blind lovers being reunited.
Yes. This is it folks. 10 years, 4 months and 14 days after a young student walked into the gapyear.com offices in 2004, the day has come for him to move onto something new; his last article as an employee of gapyear.com being inevitably tough to word.
For anyone not harbouring the cold dead heart of a psychopath, the conclusion of a major life event is always going to be emotional experience. For me, departing gapyear.com, is exactly that. Finding a job you love is famously hard; one you still love after a decade, so much more so. Feelings of personal sadness in knowing that this is the last time I will work with the gapyear.com team notwithstanding, it is with great pride that I look back at the last decade, reflecting on the wisdom of 1980s erudite scholars for guidance:
"Don't say goodbye. Say Good Journey. It is an old Eternian saying. Live the journey, for every destination is but a doorway to another." Masters of the Universe (1987)
Good Journey people. Good Journey indeed!
For me the Good Journey started back in 2004, while I was a socially-awkward young student, with wonderfully mainstream hobbies ranging from producing avant-garde soundscape art, to narrowly avoiding getting arrested while breaking into abandoned buildings to photograph them, on my own of course. Ground-breaking doesn't even begin to define it.
When not redefining the accepted boundaries of art as we know it, I was taking a degree in digital media at Suffolk College in Ipswich. As part of a 3rd year project, I was required to do a professional work placement, and as Peter Pedrick and Tom Griffiths — the founders of a small site named gapyear.com — were looking for a web design intern, a short internship seemed like a good match for everyone. Six months later I was hired as the Head of Design, and in ten years I never looked back.
Gapyear.com's aim has always been quite simple to define: provide anyone who could possibly want to take a gap year, with the knowledge, tools, means, and support network, to make it a feasible option.
But the reality is that what is easily defined, is not always so easily accomplished.
Over the next decade I worked on so many vast and varied projects that it's hard to succinctly sum up the highlights, but if I had to name a few big ones, designing and developing the original gapyear.com community, building the largest international portal of gap year volunteering and jobs online, creating the first backpacker-focused prepaid MasterCard, relaunching the gap year magazine, co-founding Fair Trade Volunteering, developing the first gap year focused travel agent, and producing the history of travel are all stand out moments. We've always been a comparatively small team, so using technology to automate what we could was fundamental in allowing the core team to focus on the important things — creating great gap year content and user functionality.
It has been an exciting ride which I will always look back upon with the fondest of memories.
March 2005: Gapyear.com HQ in Ipswich
April 2007: Launching the Gap Year Card
December 2008: Xmas in Dublin
July 2010: Partying Hard in London
August 2011: Launching a Redesigned Site
March 2012: Relaunching the Gap Year Magazine
May 2013: Hanging out on the Thames
July 2013: Gapyear.com's 15th Birthday
October 2014: Halloween
December 2014: Xmas Jumper Day
February 2015: Cormac's Final Day
February 2015: Err... yeah...
So why am I moving on?
Disgust at that last photo, maybe?
No. Needless to say this isn't Cormac Scanlan's alternative to Peter Oborne's Telegraph resignation article. Gapyear.com is a brand and business I love, and I'm leaving it on great terms. It has been an integral part of my life for a decade, and that is something that won't be changing any time soon, but now is the right time to move on: for me, and for the site. The web team here is one of the most capable in the industry, and there isn't that much more I can teach them. And for me it's time for a new challenge.
A few people have asked why I have made the decision to move from travel to fintech after 10 years, and the answer is remarkably simple. Firstly, the fintech boom is offering great opportunities for web professionals, and secondly I'm just not that person who "could only ever work in travel."
Over the last few weeks, explaining this to people in the industry has felt a little like breaking up with them: I'll always love travel, I've loved working in the travel sector, and we'll always have Paris, but like most of us, I have many interests, and being of a web design background, many of mine span from the desire to make phenomenal websites.
Fintech startups are using a combination of ingenuity, technology and user experience to provide a viable alternative to the major banks, and for a web professional with entrepreneurial leanings, it's exciting. The UK market is growing quickly and there is infectious energy around it which I am looking forward to being a part of.
I am really going to miss gapyear.com though. I'll miss the buzz of refining the website, conceptualising new travel content and building new user experiences. God knows, I'm really going miss this oddball bunch of devastatingly talented people I work with. But most of all, I'll miss you, the reader, the community member, the traveller. It has been a wonderful journey we have shared together.
Choking up a little now, so that only leaves one thing left to say...
Good Journey traveller, Good Journey.