I have to tell you, I’ve had a few moments of “Ah, should I really be posting something that is this personal to me? All the details of my jobs? Won’t people judge me?” Clearly it’s a sensitive area in my life because I feel this way AND I specifically remember receiving criticism about how many different jobs I’ve had + how many different dreams I would talk about in terms of what I wanted to be when I grew up. (I mean, I still have a million ideas.)
In the first draft of this post I wrote: “I used to let it get me down (speaking of that criticism), but now I realize that the path to getting to where you want to be is not the straight and narrow.” Used to. So why am I hesitating?
I have always been committed to honesty and transparency here where I write and I know that these little places of vulnerability are where the magic happens. I also know sharing this will help someone. It will build some else’s confidence and I know that overcoming my hesitation will help me along the rest of my journey too… so here goes nothing. (Back to the post…)
Finding what you’re supposed to be doing, finding your dream job, or whatever you want to call it, isn’t a direct A to B. That is why I am going to share an overview of my journey into into finding this job I have now (can I even call it a job?) because I actually just love it so much. Along with it, I’m going to highlight some lessons and takeaways from each position along the way, because even though those roles weren’t the perfect life-long career fit for me, the journey was the right one. I have learned from everything I have done + it’s all led me to exactly where I am today — and built the skills and qualities I need for my current role.
May this be of encouragement to you (as I hide in the corner while you read it).
When I was in college I was working as a customer service assistant doing some basic data entry / helping with office tasks. Some stars must have aligned because I was getting bored and just collecting a paycheck when I had the opportunity to get involved with the marketing department of this company. I was able to work on the company’s website design, sell sheets, create literature, run direct mail campaigns, develop sales presentations for salesmen – who were actually selling things as a result of my work. I coordinated tradeshows and planned events. I loved it. There was an excitement to being creative and executing strategically on these tasks, and so I made the decision to go to school at night + take this marketing position full time during the day for my last two years of undergrad.
I remember there being a little bit of push back and discouragement in doing this at first because I didn’t fit the college student mold any longer. I became a nontraditional college student, sure, but the appeal of having experience after graduating sounded great AND I was earning money as I was paying my way through school. Both wins in my book.
After graduating, my life circumstances changed drastically and so did my idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I always had a desire to do something with health and wellness, which is also a passion of mine, and at that point, I felt like something was lacking with the position because of that. So, what else to do then find a better fit?
Lessons: What marketing is. How to drive sales. Web design. SEO. Copy writing. Event planning. Measuring ROI. Budgeting. Social media.
The Short Lived Job
This next job was so short-lived that I’m not exactly sure what to even call it. It was a role that kind of mixed marketing with healthcare for an entity that promoted and practiced holistic wellness. The opportunity was quite entry-level and I quickly became bored + unchallenged. I knew very soon it wasn’t the job for me, so I went back to the drawing board. I needed to be creative, not just sitting at a desk. I wanted to make a difference.
Lessons: Messaging to a targeted audience. Social media. The role of marketing in wellness. Writing and editing.
There wasn’t anything appealing on any of the job boards I was scrolling so I decided to create one for myself. I started designing weddings and planning events. I had always wanted to be a business owner so I just took matters into my own hands. After I started my own event coordination business, there was a specific event planning job that opened up at a local venue. I merged the two together and it worked, but there were so many nights and weekends and it still just wasn’t fulfilling my life long dreams. I have always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but this just wasn’t the time and place for it. My life circumstances wouldn’t allow for it, so I decided again to venture elsewhere.
Lessons: A taste of entrepreneurship. Exceptional customer service. Serving others. Branding. Budgeting. Time management. Design. Business-to-business sales and partnerships. Business planning. Event coordination from start to finish. Keen attention to detail.
Marketing Manager / Director
I was on a major job search and it was quite a lengthy process. After a spaced out series of interviews, I was selected for a job at a company as a Marketing Manager. It was only a two-man team at first, but in the time I was in the position, I grew the department to have three other branches in business marketing. We saw an incredible amount of success in lead generation and sales results. I was nominated for a National Outstanding Leadership in Marketing award; It seemed I was kind of good at this marketing thing.
My job description was pretty much doing anything and everything marketing and advertising related. From web based advertising to social media to radio ads, television commercials, event coordination, call center lead generation, canvasing lead generation, direct mail campaigns, print media, outdoor digital signage, coaching + managing new marketing staff, you name it, it was in my description. I was afforded the opportunity to travel to learn from other affiliate locations of the business. I did tons of my own research, too. I always wanted to be successful at what I was doing and really stand out based on the results I was delivering. Here I was, a young woman in a male driven industry (home improvement), and I wanted to show that I could make it (successfully).
I worked tirelessly. I put in a tremendous amount of hours including early mornings, nights and weekends. I traveled. I did the best that I possibly could managing a marketing budget of over $1 million in my early 20’s. I still felt like something was missing though. I prayed about it. I thought about it. I talked about it. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do but I felt like exploring graduate school was a good option. I am always about life long learning!
To make a long story short, I ended up applying, getting accepted and enrolling into a graduate school program for public health. In my mind, I was going to be able to marry my experience in communications with my desire to make a difference at a population health level with a Masters in Public Health degree — or so it seemed. Halfway through my stent as a full time graduate student while also working full-time in this now Marketing Director role, I decided I needed to get more experience in public health if I was ever going to change my career. Turns out, no one wants to hire you without public health experience. Ultimately it came down to networking + clearly telling my program director that if they want to have successful graduates, they need to help them succeed with a job change. An opportunity to transition to a part-time job at a local health department resulted from that conversation.
Lessons: Strategy. ROI. Budgeting. Media. Social Media. Creative lead generation. Scripting. Networking. Campaign development. Writing + strategic communications.
Public Health Specialist
Here I was. Finally merging my creative + strategic communications passion and experience with making a difference at the population health level. I really liked it. I learned so much. I worked on a variety of programs and projects. I started a community farmers market and helped improve access for all populations to buy and consume fresh food. I wrote department wide plans and guided accreditation efforts. I attended conferences and presented research. I built community coalitions determined to make positive changes. I felt like I was doing something to make lives better. But, working for local government has its challenges and restrictions. Timetable push back and red tape across the board. I wasn’t working at a let’s make waves pace, more like a snail. That was hard for me.
This job was a great experience. It taught me a lot (see lessons) and exposed me to new passions such as global nutrition. It helped me reach bigger with my dreams, knowing that population level health change can be achieved through interventions targeting social determinants of health.
Lessons: Governmental procedure. Research and writing. Community Farmers Market planning + execution. Grant writing. Department plan + document writing. Strategic Planning. Coalition Building. Program planning. Program Evaluation. Community marketing.
I became a mother while I was a Public Health Specialist. I returned full time to work after Maven, part time after Sylvie and left my job just before getting pregnant with Rush. I have to say THIS JOB, a mama, is my greatest pride and joy. But, I wouldn’t be who I am today without also pursuing my passions, dreams and professional self.
Lessons: All in life. What motherhood teaches me is invaluable.
Special Event Makeup Artist
Insert this job in the Public Health Specialist job somewhere. I desperately needed a creative outlet with the amount of hours I was spending behind a desk researching, planning and typing away. I was interested in make up and style. I researched. I took classes. The hours would be flexible and would fit my mama schedule. I could make extra money and hopefully use it as a stepping stone to stay home with my babies (the goal had been set to do so). When push came to shove, I tapered off with the weddings even though I really liked it. Though it was a fun way to spend me time, my time was too valuable as I was still working outside of the home to try to continue to juggle this, too.
Lessons: Marketing new business. Make up application. Style. Customer satisfaction + interactions. Empowering + complimenting others.
This blog began and I quickly became so passionate about sharing through this platform. I can express myself and use my creativity. At the time it began, it helped to fulfill what I was missing at work. And it did. And, it also became a passion of mine to share my life + build a community + partner with brands + create valuable and meaningful content. I was led to be here and was drawn to writing and sharing. And that all continues today.
Lessons: I’m still learning. Blogging has taught me so much from technical web components to pitching partnerships to business planning and budgeting, to managing relationships and contractual timelines, to marketing and growth strategies. It’s a constant learning curve. (And I love it.)
Stay At Home / Work At Home Mom
Last January, I left my last day of work as a Public Health Specialist to venture into becoming a SAHM. I was nervous. (You can read more about that here.) I knew I wanted to continue working, but wasn’t sure in what capacity, so I knew I was going to continue my blog + keep dreaming about putting my entrepreneurial spirit into action. Just about the week before my last day on the job, a relationship with a freelance client I had been dabbling with due to a blogging connection, offered me a contract and the rest is history.
I have been freelancing in marketing, writing, (strategic communications) for a year now. It’s been amazing. It’s been challenging to navigate sometimes. I’m still constantly learning and constantly challenging myself to be more creative and more strategic at the same time. (+ balancing work time and mama time!) I fill my mind with inspiration and am always motivated to do more and better.
In short, I guess I’ve never truly been a SAHM. I’ve always had side work and this blog that I’ve been building.
Lessons: Technical web details. SEO. Social media strategy. Lean on others. Network. Listen to podcasts. Take courses. Build a community around you. Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to take chances. The list goes on…
Mama, Blogger, Creative, Entrepreneur
Here I am today, wearing a multitude of hats and l-o-v-i-n-g it. I get to challenge myself, be creative, work with people and brands I love, constantly learn new things and know that the sky is the limit. I have flexibility to be with my family, be home with my kids when they aren’t at school (though thanks to G&G I have a dedicated work day each week!) and work from anywhere. I still have freelance clients and one that has grown into a team member role at pumpspotting. (LOVE!) I am blogging for purpose and out of passion + getting more opportunities to partner with brands I love and write about things I care about, too. I am on an entrepreneurial journey that I promise I will share more about. You can read #3 on this post about 2018 to get a little teaser!
The lessons are unending and they’ve all added up to get me to where I am today. You see those lessons that I learned as a Marketing Coordinator so long ago? I am using them now. You see the qualities that were formed from becoming a Makeup Artist? I’m completely using those too. I never saw how they were all going to add up, but they surely all do. And, I don’t know that I would be where I’m at right now – LOVING IT – without building all of those skills and experiences first.
I wanted to share this with you because wherever you are at in your journey and whatever you want the end result to be, do not be discouraged. Do not give up or think you are in the wrong place. That wrong place may just be the next step to the right one. Take the time to write down your own path – that path that is not so straight and narrow. Think about what you’ve taken away from your job (or life) experiences and reflect on how they have impacted where you are today. Look ahead to where you want to go and maybe plan some progression or write out some lessons you want to learn before you get there. And whatever you do, do not go it alone. Lean on others. Talk about your dreams and passions. Put yourself into action and follow your heart.
Though it hasn’t always been easy, given nay sayers and discouraging feelings about jobs and my path, it really has been good. All of this, it has led me to where I am today and I wouldn’t change this, here, right now, for anything.
I’ve arrived at my greatest job (thus far) and am still journeying through the process. I will be sharing more and more as my new business develops + blogging my little heart out along the way.
Stay passionate friends and enjoy the journey.
Photo captured by Katie Bingen Photography.