Tag Archives: marketing

Unemployment Week Three Begins

This morning I’ve applied to four jobs. Four jobs that I’m confident I won’t get. I’m in this very odd place in my career, one that consistently shoots me in the foot. My experience doesn’t exactly match my the title gracing my resume. What am I actually good at? Well, the answer is little bits and pieces of job descriptions, but never the meat of the job description. I am starting to feel, if not hopeless, then convinced I need an MBA or a professional master’s degree in order to go anywhere in my career, up, down or sideways.

This is not to say that I’ve been awful at all of my past jobs. In fact, my LinkedIn profile is filled with recommendations from former colleagues and managers who liked my work. The problem is that the majority of reason they liked my work was due to factors that I largely didn’t control. For example – securing press articles for a business is much easier when the business is in an area the press want to write about. It’s also easier when you work for a company that supports and encourages stretching the truth a bit to make the news a bit sexier. Sure, I used my creative abilities to come up with different ways to tell the story that resonated with different news audiences, but put me in another role in another industry where the area is just not exciting to journalists and I promise you I won’t be able to produce the same result. Oh, and hire me?

Continue reading Unemployment Week Three Begins

How many people learn their jobs by doing vs training?

Reading job ads I find myself laughing and crying all at the same time. The hard, sad truth is that I managed to skip around the foundational years of my career in my current industry. While I have built up my experience in junior-level positions, they were not in the typical junior-level position held by someone that is in the type of position that I’m actually getting recruited for. So I always end up either having to pretend to have all of this knowledge (some of which I do, some of which I don’t) or I have no chance of getting hired.

Why don’t you just go to a more junior-level position, you ask? Well, no one takes someone with a director title on their resume and nearly 10 years of experience seriously when they apply for lower level roles (unless they are a clear career switcher and even then it’s tough.) It’s also hard to go from making over $120,000 per year to making $40k-$50k. Staffing managers and companies know that most people who are further along in their career are used to sizable salaries and they would rather hire someone more junior (but still with some experience) to do these roles that allow for little autonomy and more mundane, repetitive albeit important work.

Continue reading How many people learn their jobs by doing vs training?

Getting from point A to point A+

Not to belabor the point of my insatiable quest for the ideal long-term career, but I can’t help but find my desire to use technology to build products that help people is only getting stronger over the years. Marketing is a great tool to have, and one that I’m happy to hone at this point in my career as I still have a lot to learn, but I can’t see myself 10 years from now working in marketing. I’m not sure what the right role is for me, but ultimately marketing is too far outside the product and even product marketing doesn’t have enough say in the details of how the product works and what the user experience is like.

My friend recently wrote on Facebook that he’s “convinced that being a good designer and making products means being like a teenager: impatient and always a little bit annoyed.”

That sums up my persona perfectly, as terrible as it sounds. I’m annoyed by poor user experiences. I’m impatient because I hate seeing time wasted on poor solutions when there (at least in my head) is a much better way to solve a problem. Not that I’m always right — there’s a lot I need to learn regarding how to test and iterate instead of being stubborn about one solution, but I’m confident I have good intuition with interaction design, I can easily put myself into someone else’s shoes (as an actor or director) and think through their entire story in my head, how they would use a product, and where the experience is broken.

So, yes, I’m often annoyed, and impatient, over poor design. I’m not sure I could handle a career there because it requires the ability to be able to compromise with people who probably don’t know any better than you do, but who have more power in their managerial roles. Unless I build a product from scratch and manage the entire thing myself, it’s tough to have enough power to be a designer or design-thinking manager that people trust.

But then there’s my life, which is flying by quickly, and everyday filling with new experiences that may or may not get me to where I want to be. I’m ok with waiting until I’m 31 (3 years from now) to make any major changes, but I’m also worried how that aligns with the same year I plan to try to have kids. How can I plan to go to grad school and have children in the same year? Talk about going into massive debt… but I don’t want to be a straight up marketer for my entire life, I want to be a product/interaction designer, or maybe a hands on entrepreneur, but I want control over the product experience, not just how it’s hung like a carrot in front of prospective purchasers in order to get them to buy.

jumping off the career plank

I often write about how I have a great job, yet I still feel like I haven’t found the position where my talent can best contribute to a company or cause. I can get by in marketing… I’m decent at telling a story about a product, understanding how people might want to use it. But I’m by no means a brilliant marketer. In this career, I can only go so far, and it really shows everyday at work.

Every year, every month, every day, I come back to wanting to be on the product side of tech divide. I highly value my experience in marketing and know it will help me in the long run, but I honestly do not want to spend the rest of my career as a marketer.

While I’m dedicated to my marketing role at my current company, at some point things will need to change. I’m 27 now, and I’m dedicated to this role until I’m 30 or 31. At which point, I need to figure out what’s next. And that time will be here before I can count 1. to. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Continue reading jumping off the career plank

Faking Passion vs. Finding Passion

It’s 1pm on Wednesday, I’m wide awake, full from a nice lunch with co-workers, and my brain is stuck at writer’s block. While I’ll never pose that I’m the most talented writer in the universe, if I have passion for the topic I’m writing about, I can at least revel in getting a lot of copy out. Without that passion, I stare at my screen for hours on end, and don’t know what to say.

Everyone has that thing that drives them, that defines their passion. Mine has always been honesty. I love telling stories, but I love telling true stories. Marketing is not exactly about lying, but your job revolves around how good you are at making tiny successes seem like major accomplishments, and to find an interesting and relevant story around the day-to-day business in order to generate excitement, leads and ultimately sales.

If there’s anything I learned from being a theatre major, it’s how to put myself into another character’s mind, to improvise, to always accept what’s thrown your way and go with it — yet when it comes to marketing writing, I always find myself a wall. I guess when I’m not personally excited about something, I fail at faking it. I’d always rather be involved in improving things than promoting things that are good, but have room for growth and fixes.

The problem is that I have an amazing opportunity for a long and profitable career in marketing, and I don’t even need to go to grad school or get an MBA to accomplish this. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’ve been lucky enough to fall into one opportunity after the next that has generated a solid resume (finally.) I certainly won’t be offered every job I apply to — far from it — but I’ve moved beyond “entry level” and now have 5+ years of experience with some impressive companies, and a lot of (true) stories to tell about those experiences.

Even though I won’t be CMO overnight I know if I could just get myself excited about this career path, I have a shot at really making a name for myself in this business. But I’m not sure this is the path I want to take for the rest of my life. My heart is in product, in building something people use, iterating, creating, and honesty. Marketing covers some of that, but not in the way I see myself looking back and feeling like I’ve used my true passion the right way over the years… if there is a right way.

If money had nothing to do with it, would I be on this marketing trajectory? I’m not so sure. Would I be happier in design or something related to that? Probably, but who knows. In the end it’s a job, and regardless of what your job is, sometimes it’s hard to be passionate about what you’re doing to make a living. And sometimes its better to keep your passion separate from your career, so you don’t kill it.

What do you think?

When Your Career Ladder Looks Like a Jungle Gym

My resume was a great conversation starter at an MBA recruiting event I went to this weekend. My takeaways were that I can likely get into at least one of my top choice schools if I manage to get a really, really high score on the GMATs (as in, over 700.) Most schools seem to like that I’m not the typical MBA candidate, which is a good thing.

But this post isn’t about my quest to get an MBA, or it isn’t directly about this quest. Instead, it’s about moving up, down, and diagonal on the career “ladder.”

My current job is a huge leap up from any positions I had before in both responsibility, salary, and company respect. But it’s a six month contract which is ending soon, and likely won’t be renewed (more to do with the state the company is in than my work here, my boss wants to keep me on.) So I’m in a pickle. Where do I go from here?

The biggest problem is defining my career goals and understanding how my next steps will get me there. Incredibly, with the large-name company on my resume I’m getting calls back on my applications from other respectable companies. That’s not to say I’ll get past the first interview, but the phone is at least ringing.

It isn’t clear where I’m supposed to step to go up in my career. Most of the jobs I really want require an MBA or a lot of luck. Then there are all these very good jobs that are all so very different and can lead me in very, very different directions. Do I want to do customer support? B2B or B2c? General marketing? Social media marketing? How do these answers change when each option has a specific company attached to it? How do they change when each company has a salary attached to it?

Honestly, I’d be happiest doing online customer support. Because I love helping people and solving problems. That role is at an excellent company, but I bet my pay would be cut in half. Or maybe I could negotiate a little more, but I can’t imagine they’d pay a customer support person the same amount I’d make as a marketing manager or even marketing assistant. I’d be happier in the short-term, and there’s a chance getting a foot in the door at this company can lead to bigger and better things, but is it really a step up in my career? Should I care?

When it comes down to it, I need to look at what I’m good at and what makes me happy. I know I get the most reward out of helping people, solving problems, etc. Those types of jobs don’t pay as well as selling to people. Ideally I’d find a role where I can solve problems and help people while developing and marketing products. That may require an MBA. Right now I can possibly get hired as a social media manager, but that career path is limiting. It’s also all marketing and not as much about improving a product. It can be, it just depends on the role, product and company.

Regardless, the pickle I’m in now will only continue to, well, pickle, before I can take a bite and discover the taste of my future.

Who Needs $90 Wine?

Apparently the price of wine heavily influences how much people enjoy it. A team of researchers at Stanford and CalTech set out to prove this, and gave testers two glasses of wine to try. One was a “$90” glass of wine, and the other a “$10” glass of wine. What the subjects didn’t know was that these two glasses of wine were actually identical.

“Specifically, the researchers found that with the higher priced wines, more blood and oxygen is sent to a part of the brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex, whose activity reflects pleasure,” reports CNET.

I Need a Job.

Welcome to the world of unemployment. It’s not that bad of a world, minus the whole losing money every second of the day sort of thing.

The good news is that while I’m officially unemployed (sans unemployment insurance, since I resigned), I’ve picked up a few random freelance gigs here and there. My uncle always needs random work done for his e-marketing firm, and he seems really happy with the work I’ve done for him thus far, which makes me feel really good. Yea, he’s my uncle, but he’s also a really talented marketing entrepreneur and I know he wouldn’t be hiring me for more jobs if he felt like I didn’t have the chops.

I have a steady income (1/3rd my rent) each month from ongoing writing assignments from him, with occasional extra work for the firm. This month, in addition to my normal copywriting, I did my first official web page design assignment for him. I guess he liked how the design looked but wasn’t thrilled that I turned a pure HTML document into one with CSS. Oops. I was so confused by the original HTML document, given that it was causing Dreamweaver to have a hernia or something. Half the code turned GREY and I couldn’t edit it. Now, maybe that was a template that I was supposed to work in, but there was still some weird code that was making the layout all wonky. I kept the layout exactly the same, except I revamped it in CSS. Hopefully that’s not too awful. He wasn’t exactly clear on the directions, I was just told to take a pre-existing site and make it look better, and that I did. Oh well.

I’m also writing a bunch of copy for a start-up social networking-esque company. It’s all contract work, but who knows, it could lead to something more. So this week is booked solid with contract work. Next week, my sister comes to visit and I’m “taking the week off” to show her around town. Then I’m going to start focusing on my job applications. Well, I’ve been applying for jobs left and right, but am not sure anyone is going to consider hiring me full time since I was only at my last job for 4 months. That looks really bad in the eyes of a potential employer, and I can’t blame them for doubting me. It’s just frustrating because I know I have so much to give, it’s just my last job wasn’t right for me. I’m not a newshound. I’m somewhat socially anxious, which doesn’t really align with a career in journalism. But how do I explain that to potential employers? “I quit my last job because talking to strangers makes my heart explode.” Yea, that’s going to help me land a great job, for sure. 🙁

In any case, I’m hopeful that something good will come along if i’m patient and bide my time with contract work. If I can manage to turn the contract work into a full-time profession, all the better. But for now, I’m crossing my fingers that I can manage to pay for my rent, basic bills, health insurance cobra, and food until something full-time comes along.

Meanwhile, i’ve decided to focus my free time on getting into shape and figuring out how to be healthy inside and out. I’ve stopped taking the anti-depressents (wow, I took them for a whole 25 days, and now, I’m done) and am looking into herbal stuff instead. (Yup, I bought some St. John’s Wort.) I can’t figure out if all of the nutritional supplements end up costing me more than a psychiatrist and Lexapro, or if they end up costing about the same. In any case, I figured out that my lack of energy and dizziness is probably caused by iron and other nutritional deficiences. This week, I even tried eating red meat (I’ve been a vegetarian for about 10 years, though I started eating fish a year ago) – but after downing a half-pound hamburger yesterday I got sick to my stomach. Let’s just say an hour or so after eating that burger, I only digested about half of it. The rest? Don’t ask. (Yuck.) So I’m done with red meat (again) for now. Instead, I’m looking into other supplements to help the cause of mission get healthy (without – getting broke.) Think I can do it? Well, I certainly hope so.