As you can probably tell by this title, my professional journey doesn’t have the happiest twist.
And to any future employers reading this, I can totally explain! I have a lot offer, I promise! *sweats profusely*
At my first job, I got a few months of experience as a “Jr. Paid Media Specialist” where I shadowed account managers on client meetings, and Google meetings, helped write ad copy and pace account spending. I think maybe after this, I got ahead of myself. I thought paid ads were no biggie and that I could easily jump into a new job with confidence.
I got hired at a premier marketing agency as an Associate, with a jump in salary from my last job. I was pumped. I was making more money, going to work everyday at a cool company with a fun and flexible work culture.
Agency life was definitely a grind and I don’t think I was really prepared for the learning curve I would have to deal with. I’m definitely more of a creative person, than analytical. I’d say I’m 35% Analytical, 65% Creative to be more detailed, but I’ve always been a slow learner when it comes to technical knowledge. It would take me longer to do certain types of analyses that involved multiple advanced Excel functions that I’d never done before. I could do them, and I could certainly do them well with practice, but the learning curve was steep. Everyone around me was an Excel and math whiz, or so it seemed. I felt like an amateur surfer trying to paddle my way up the wave and hoist myself up, only to be mauled by water crashing on top of me.
When client churn became an issue, the learning curve went from looking like a log function to a skinny parabola (like my math reference?).
One thing I’ve trouble with, both personally and professionally, is advocating for myself. I used to be afraid to ask too many questions for fear of sounding stupid. My personality is generally pretty agreeable and I dislike conflict, which has some consequences in the professional world. For any college graduates or younger ones reading this, please take this as a lesson: When it comes to communicate, it’s always better to over-communicate than under-communicate.
When my manager said “I’m afraid we’ll have to part ways” in a one-on-one meeting, it was gut-wrenching. I felt like I had spent night after night until 1 AM only to have the rug swept from under me.
I’ve always had a rocky relationship with my own ego; teetering between inflated or deflated, rarely striking a balance. I was stubborn and bullheaded and hated being told that I couldn’t do something or that I was slow at it. So when I was told that the company had to tighten the belt and my skill set wasn’t where it should be, I burned the midnight oil to validate my ego. Never once did I ask myself whether that line of work actually gave any real enjoyment.
I think I liked the idea of being a sharp, technical and analytical PPC whiz, but not really the hours and hours of real conceptual understanding that was required to excel in it. I had a loose understanding of the fundamentals but I hadn’t truly grasped it, and it showed. In my next job, I went from doing it at an agency, to managing over 10 different ad platforms in-house at a tech company. Though I had great chemistry with my coworkers, and was fascinated by the company software, I once again, walked into a job where the requirements and knowledge far exceeded my experience, and didn’t have the foresight to point that out, or ask as many questions as I could.
When COVID-19 hit, they didn’t have the resources to keep me on the team or train me further, so they made the decision to lay off myself and 20 other employees.
Being laid off twice in a year is a blow to your self-esteem. I felt like I didn’t have much to offer, which isn’t true, but it’s the place your mind goes when something like that happens to you more than once. Resist the urge to wallow in that. Cry, vent, mourn, do whatever needs to be done to let those emotions pass through your body, and then when you can gather your thoughts, think critically about what went wrong. Here’s three things I did after I got laid off that helped me keep a healthy mental attitude and narrowed down my careers of interest:
* I do want to acknowledge I am coming from a place of privilege. I am single, not supporting a spouse or children, so I get to prioritize myself instead of those I need to take care of. Regardless, if you can find time in your job search to do this, I highly recommend it!
Jobs are kind of like relationships. Some are a good fit, and some aren’t. And you aren’t just trying to prove yourself worthy to this company, you want to ensure that the job and the company are a match for you, too. Just like a partner, there is a job out there for you that will challenge you, reward you and fulfill you, and that might take some time. Be kind to yourself in the process and know that you have a lot to learn, but you also have a lot to offer.