Today I reflect upon a delightful thought and the idiom "the apple does not fall far from the tree."...
In high school I thought I wanted to be a chef, like my grandmother, who attended culinary school in Lithuania. However, the culinary world and its fast-paced demands and alternative schedule was one I was not ready for at age 18. So, I subconsciously took the path of my mother, graduating in 2005 with a degree in education. I spent nine years with some of society's youngest, still cherishing the memories they (and countless colleagues and parents) helped create. In 2014, however, I re-discovered my innate passion in the creative realm: writing. This had been the path of my father, but much of his path was walked prior to my existence.
I was thrilled and discouraged at the same time... thrilled I'd found what felt like something I had been looking for all along; discouraged wondering if I'll have to go back to school AGAIN in order to compete with copywriters and journalists, many of whom can say: "I went to school for this."
For three years I worked to make it in a world not backed by my degree. I published a poetry book, often considered an "irrelevant" project. Took a full-time job in a managerial position for a healthcare organization, just to prove I could succeed in a corporate setting after spending the first part of my career in academia. I also finished my Master's degree in media and technology, convinced my new tech skills would provide the edge I needed to kick-start my creative writing endeavors.
I launched a website. Then another. Then I re-designed them, all of them, when they weren't good enough. Established a portfolio. I re-designed that, too. Did some freelance work. Did some pro bono work. Interviewed. Interviewed more. Met new people. Networked. Asked questions. Heard other people's stories. Hustled. Stayed up late. Woke up early. Focused on my health. (Because without that, what else is there?) Remained calm. Remained patient. Tried again. Tried harder. Read a lot of books. Read a LOT of books. Read the good ones twice. Listened to others' success stories. 'Followed' inspiring people. Worked to master resistance and face my fears, every single day. I kept writing.
"...But can you write corporate content?"
Feeling Good, Professionally.
I wonder what it feels like
to have the best job in the world?
A task you love to do so much,
it t i n g l e s .
Of course I can write "corporate" content! Duh!
I still had to prove it, though. So...
I quit my day-job in healthcare for a better paying day-job, in healthcare. (I thought the salary increase would help me keep up with all of my writing and publishing projects.) When the new gig did not work out as expected, I resigned–on Halloween–unsure if my decision would prove to be more trick, or treat.
I gave myself a hard deadline, 34 days (just short of five weeks), to get a new offer. Not only would this timeframe allow me to continue my writing projects, it would keep the roof over my head and grub in my stomach. During my first week of unemployment I applied for what seemed like every position out there. One day I applied for over 50 jobs. Of course, those jobs came with some interviews, but only for roles not quite as their advertised titles depicted. Needless to say, I declined those interviews. I wasn't that desperate, yet.
During week two I slowed down, searching only for jobs in industries I was actually interested in: writing/editing, digital media and technology, and education. That week I spent most of my time sending out three versions of my resume and got several calls for interviews, one for a role as "Operations Manager". The recruiter asked me to follow a link to select an interview time, and I was pleased to select one from his seemingly empty schedule the next day. However, when Ted didn't make the scheduled call, he followed up with an email stating: "Sorry, I was in an interview that ran long. Can we reschedule this?" I agreed, only to be stood up once again the next day: "Sorry again," he wrote, "it has been 100% booked the past few days! I have time early tomorrow (before 8am) and pretty open Monday and Tuesday. I will be sure to block time off prior to our call to ensure we connect."
While the recruiter failed to call twice for something he was getting paid to block off already (I especially loved his word choice "100% booked", since his schedule appeared 0% booked), the lost appointment allowed time for me to contemplate some things, one of them being that I didn't actually want to be an "Operations Manager." What I wanted to be is a writer. So, in my final response to Mr. Ted, I respectfully stated my disappointment in our inability to connect, but this time declined any further phone interviews. I was on to bigger and better things.
During the end of my second week of unemployment, I put away two out of three resume templates and only sent out one: Writer/Editor. I applied professional resume writing techniques to my original design and immediately noticed a better response than I'd had–in years. Then, on an unsuspecting Sunday night, I received an email from a recruiter through Indeed.com asking if I was interested in a Content Writer position.
Interesting, I thought. I hadn't even applied for this one!
While there was no Um, YES! button, I selected the closest option and confirmed my interest.
I prepared a phone interview script to make sure I let the new recruiter know the finest points of my credentials and personality, and why I would be suited for the role. Then, the night before my in-person interview, I studied as though I was preparing for a final exam in a course called Life 101: Basic Principles for a Happy Existence.
To me the interview felt like a success. I was calm, professional, and spot-on with my answers since the interviewers had asked most, if not all, of the questions I had prepared for the night before. I wrote thank you letters to the interviewers afterward, and also thanked the recruiter. "I look forward to talking to you soon," he wrote. Though the line seemed positive, I wouldn't know for sure for two weeks.
Meanwhile, I pursued other writing positions all over the United States, and even went on more interviews. Thanksgiving came and went. The unemployment agency of Michigan decided they owed me nothing. Then, on the Wednesday morning of my second week of waiting, as I thought of calling the recruiter to follow up, he called me instead with great news.
Funny, it wasn't until after I started to apply for positions all over the country that one finally appeared near my home town. It's as if the universe finally decided I was ready and serious about becoming a professional writer. To top it off, the day I received the job offer I received a second offer as an editor for another company and was able to negotiate the best option for myself. (I still went with writer, of course.)
Content Writer in Auburn Hills, MI. Full-time, with benefits. And I didn't even have to move (at least not yet)! Getting to this point wasn't easy, but it wasn't impossible, either. It was effort. It was always effort. And it was always up to me.
However, I got here with the help of three key people: my grandmother, the chef, my mom, the teacher, and my dad, former journalist and current author. Their stories helped tell mine.
OK, make it eight (since we're counting)...
John Lennon and Paul McCartney, for their lyrics on a decorative piece of wall art that welcomes me to my bedroom:
All your life,
You were only waiting
moment to arise.
Gary Vaynerchuk, who cursed just enough times to remind me of the following:
-I'm lucky to even be alive
-Since I'm lucky to even be alive, I may as well live my dreams before I'm lucky enough to die
And my brother, Paul, whose relentless realism, positive energy, and encouragement (however outlandish my ideas) kept me going this whole time. I'm unsure what I would have done without all of those chats! Also, his support system, Erin. (They're a package deal).
On to the next chapter!
Carmen Harada of Mexico specializes in pencil drawings, watercolors, and shodo (the art of traditional Japanese calligraphy). For two years Carmen worked to understand the basics of 3D pencil drawing technique, the same technique used in her featured piece, "3D5".
Follow Carmen on Facebook: @PencilDrawingsWatercolorsAndMore