Sea swimming essentials every first-timer should have on their list
Sea swimming essentials every first-timer should have on their list

Sarah Finnan

Calling all biscuit lovers! We’re giving away a hamper of Maltesers biscuits
Calling all biscuit lovers! We’re giving away a hamper of Maltesers biscuits

Lauren Heskin

Would you tell a friend if they’d gone overboard with Botox or fillers?
Would you tell a friend if they’d gone overboard with Botox or fillers?

Amanda Cassidy

What to make this weekend: A grown-up ice-cream sundae
What to make this weekend: A grown-up ice-cream sundae

Meg Walker

How to stop procrastinating what you know you have to face
How to stop procrastinating what you know you have to face

Niamh Ennis

Step off the hamster wheel of dieting: an in-depth guide to intuitive eating
Step off the hamster wheel of dieting: an in-depth guide to intuitive eating

Melanie Morris

Ouai x Byredo is back with more scented haircare
Ouai x Byredo is back with more scented haircare

Holly O'Neill

This recently renovated Ranelagh home is on the market for €1.25 million
This recently renovated Ranelagh home is on the market for €1.25 million

Megan Burns

Considering getting hitched at home? Two couples on their at-home weddings
Considering getting hitched at home? Two couples on their at-home weddings

Lizzie Gore-Grimes

With soon-to-be-three salons, a beauty brand and a little one at home, Kate Verling of Mink Hand and Foot Spa on mastering multitasking
With soon-to-be-three salons, a beauty brand and a little one at home, Kate Verling of...

Lauren Heskin

Image / Editorial

Ever wanted to take a career break to do a dream job? This Irish woman did


by Jennifer McShane
17th Mar 2019
blank

Originally from Antrim, Aimee Johnston had been working for Penguin Random House Ireland before taking on a dream opportunity to relocate to the Maldives to sell books. She tells IMAGE.ie what made her take the plunge to take some temporary time out.  


Have you ever wanted to work in a pop-up book shop? Specifically, have you ever wanted to work in a pop-up book store in a luxury resort, where you can feel the sand beneath your feet during the working day? This is what Aimée Johnston, who works in a busy publishing house in Dublin, decided she wanted to do. Taking this sort of career break is never the easiest of decisions but once she discovered Barefoot Bookseller project, she says she knows it was an opportunity too good to pass up.

“The way it works is that a company called The Ultimate Library teamed up with the luxury resort Soneva Fushi to design, build and launch a bookshop in the Maldives, run by the Barefoot Bookseller,” Aimée explained after beating thousands of applicants to get the job. “I originally saw the job posting on Book Brunch, a publishing industry trade magazine and decided to apply – the chosen applicant gets to sell books for three months in the Maldives.”

She explains that she felt lucky in the sense that her employers gave her the time out to go for the dream opportunity.

“Projects like this don’t come around too often, or at least not for me! When I found out I got the job as Ultimate Library’s Barefoot Bookseller it felt too much like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass up. Luckily my employers at Penguin Random House Ireland felt the same way, and have been incredibly supportive in allowing me the time to do this.”

I’m still convinced [getting the job] involved an awful lot of luck! There were a few interview stages and I was set some creative tasks along the way but overall it was just another opportunity to talk about books that I loved.

 Throughout our talk, Aimée says the biggest push for her to do it was her love of books – and especially physical books – and finding the right stories for those that want to buy books from her.

“My preference has always been for physical books. I just love them. The feel of them, their smell. So much love and care and passion goes into making a book, that they just feel like wonderful things to have,” she said.

“I know this is going to sound a little mad considering I was literally travelling to work in a bookshop, but I actually brought quite a few books with me, including an outrageously heavy collection of Joan Didion essays! I maintain it was totally worth the risk of fees from overweight luggage.”

 Day-to-day life

“If ever you were considering doing something similar, Aimeé’s day-to-day routine might sway you! “My day starts in the staff canteen where Anan, our resident host chef, makes the most amazing omelettes. Honestly, they’re incredible and so worth waking up early for,” she explained.

“After that I’m in the bookshop, talking to guests, recommending books. There is nothing better than taking time with a reader, establishing their reading tastes and finding just the right book for them. I love knowing someone is leaving the shop with a book that they’ll love. My day also includes the slightly more practical tasks of restocking shelves, unpacking boxes and then breaking them down. You can’t escape those jobs, even in paradise!”

“At lunchtime – and you’re going to hate me for this, but my lunch time is three hours long – I go to the beach and swim. There are these hammocks hidden just a little way into the jungle and I’ll lie there and read the afternoon away. Then it’s back to the bookshop for the evening!”

And asides from all of the above, she says her experience comes with many more highlights, including mixing with locals and their culture – as well as taking some more needed time out.

“For International Women’s Day, I attended a swimming gala with women from neighbouring islands Maalhos and Eydafushi,” she continued. “I met really amazing women and after our race, we all went for food. It was just such a gorgeous way to celebrate the day.”

In terms of my personal life, it’s quite nice to be moving at a slightly slower pace than normal. I think there’s a lot of pressure to always be seen to be really busy, and I’ve definitely been guilty of that in the past.

 

Her advice for anyone wanting to do the same is to trust your instincts, think of what you might gain in terms of expanding your skill set to employers when you get back home and if you want it, talk to your company as early as possible to get your plans in motion.

“It’s a bit of a cliché, but I think my biggest piece of advice would be to trust your gut,” said Aimée. “Change can be scary and uncertain but if it’s the right project and the right time, you’ll know. I’d also advise speaking to your employers as soon as possible to discuss your options.” “

“I’m really fortunate to work for a company that cares about the development of their employees and you never know, your job might just view your career break as a brilliant opportunity for you to grow and gain different skills. The earlier you have those conversations, the less daunting things become.”

Photographs: Ultimate Library   

Also Read

abgc_architects_aoife_herrity
EDITORIAL
A plain extension in Dublin 8 provides a blank canvas for a design-minded couple

ABGC Architects were enlisted to transform a large white box into a functional living space for two design-minded homeowners. When...

By Amanda Kavanagh

blank
IMAGE WRITES
The sexist commentary at Wimbledon still remains a problem

Wimbledon in 2021 and once again female athletes are singled out on the playing field, a great deal of the...

By Jennifer McShane

Vegan
EDITORIAL
Delicious vegan-friendly spots to try for a weekend brunch in Dublin

Check out three of our favourite vegan/veggie-friendly spots in Dublin worth trying this weekend. The best bit? Chances are, even...

By Jennifer McShane

alternative asthma treatments
EDITORIAL
Three alternative asthma treatments to try this hayfever season

Approximately 80% of people with asthma also suffer from hayfever, which can make summer days a nightmare. These three alternative...

By Grace McGettigan

blank
AGENDA, EDITORIAL
When speaking about ageing, we should follow Julianne Moore’s lead

Actress Julianne Moore is tired of all the cliched tropes about female ageing. The way we speak about it; the...

By Jennifer McShane

Mandy Moore pumping
EDITORIAL
Mandy Moore climbed an active volcano at dawn… while pumping

Hiking a mountain and breast pumping – now, that’s what we call multitasking at its finest. Mandy Moore enjoyed an...

By Sarah Finnan

blank
EDITORIAL
‘We have not heeded the warnings sufficiently’: The health emergency we’ve ignored while focusing on the pandemic

The climate change debate has been going on for so long its become white noise. But this week, the effects...

By Amanda Cassidy