I usually reserve the month of November to talk about career-related posts and even office-appropriate OOTDs. In the spirit of the tradition, I want to open up a little bit about my career journey and hopefully you guys can learn from my mistakes and my successes.
I attended college with the goal of becoming a journalist. I was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper and I wanted to write professionally for a newspaper (print journalism ftw!). Well, I can tell you that that goal didn't exactly pan out. I wasn't entirely happy with the job outlook and I found my resolve wavering when I thought about the student loans I would have to pay off on a reporter's salary. I was incredibly disappointed with myself that I would "sell out" to Public Relations but that's exactly what I did - I switched majors where I was confronted with another challenge: which direction do I want to go with this particular field of study?
The thing about communications degrees is that they're incredibly flexible. The possibilities were endless but they were also really overwhelming. I found myself for the first time in a long time literally without direction and it was depressing to say the least. I was about to graduate (with honors) and not have a single clue as to what I'm going to do next. What's the point in all the accolades when you don't actually know what to with it?
Well, my final semester of college, I took a graduate-level course called "Political Communication." It was actually a graduation requirement to pick one area of communications to study (it was either that or Entertainment Communication and I was never really a Hollywood type of girl anyway). This was 2012 and if you know a bit about US politics, it was an election year. I was in Washington, DC. It made sense.
The course was seriously one of the best classes I took ever and I kept in touch with the professor until her passing recently (RIP Professor Lynch). We analyzed what it took for candidates to win from a communications standpoint I remember specifically thinking, "This is my calling. I finally found it!" In fact, I was so inspired by the class that immediately after our first midterm (which I aced, by the way!) I applied to be a fellow at a political campaign.
Now, I don't want to get too deeply into my political affiliations nor do I want to delve too deeply into whether or not this was a local, state, or presidential campaign because that's not what this blog is about (though I will say that our team won!) I will say that this was probably the best career move that I made and I will always remember my time working on a campaign.
|Going over strategy during my campaign days|
Despite the long hours (I remember coming to work at 6 AM on a Saturday and staying until around 11:30 PM or so!) and the low pay (I was an unpaid fellow who got promoted to a staff position. Still wasn't paid enough, I'd say). I was honestly happier than I had been in a while. On top of my career insecurities, I was also coming out of a three year relationship so making new friends on a campaign trail was exactly what I needed. Though we were all underpaid and overworked, the work was fast-paced and meaningful to all of us, which was how I got promoted so quickly, and it led to meeting politicians and attending high-profile events! When the campaign was over (and especially since we won), I received quite a few lucrative job offers (including a stint in Congress and quite a few public affairs firms) and made lifetime friends - in fact, just last year I attended the wedding of one of the friends I made during this time!
Before the campaign, I wasn't a risk-taker. I was calculating, I was careful, and I was afraid to make a mistake. If you told my 18-year-old self that I would take an unpaid gig after college over an actual paid position at an agency, I would have laughed in your face. But sometimes you have to take a risk to reap amazing benefits! I know I didn't waste that year because I worked towards something I firmly believed in and worked with people who had the same vision I did. If you take nothing way from this post at least take this piece of advice: It's okay to take a career risk because it just may be the best thing to happen to you. You never know until you try.