Sunday, November 13, 2011

Complete Full Circle, Part II

I arrived in Boston three days before school started. I was all alone in a house where I would be spending the next year with two girls I had never met. It was Labor Day weekend - a holiday that I would later come to learn is taken much more seriously in New England than it is in the Midwest - and everyone was off at the beach, lake houses or the Cape enjoying the last bits of summer. That's when it hit me. I didn't know anyone and was about to enter an intensive one year program.

Turns out I was really lucky to be a part of this particular class. Forty-five of us from all over the world. We were all so very different, yet shared the same open mindedness and passion for adventure, travel and communications. We clicked and these people became like a family to me. We worked hard and played hard -holidays, birthday, projects and presentations. Before I knew it, we were living in the school library completing our final capstone projects and preparing for graduation.

I got a summer internship at Massachusetts General Hospital and spent my summer writing press releases, doing research and helping to compile the annual report. I found myself enjoying the opportunities not living at Emerson gave me to enjoy the city. As the end of summer approached, I decided I wasn't ready to leave.

At the time my internship ended, there were no full time positions available at the hospital and another classmate of mine was leaving an internship to move to NYC. Her boss was working on a job for Tufts Medical Center and she passed along my name to help continue with the project given my previous experience in health care.

I took the job and immediately started working on the rebrand and website upgrade/migration project for the hospital. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the project. As the contract neared an end I was so very happy in Boston. I had a great circle of friends and was out enjoying all that New England had to offer. The city had stolen my heart and I wanted to stay.

The only problem was that I needed to find a more stable full time role. This turned out to be harder than I imagined. The city is very highly educated and I still seemed to be stuck in between being over qualified for some things and under qualified for the rest.

After a few months of unsuccessfully searching for something in the city, I began to realize I may have to leave. I wasn't sure I was ready to go back home as I really enjoyed city life. Many of my grad school friends had migrated to NYC and I decided if I were going to find a job anywhere, it would be there.

A friend was looking for an apartment and said I could move in with him if I came down. I began sending out resumes in the city and prepared to move down.

I arrived in the city in October of 2008 - two weeks after everything started to fall apart with the economy. I started to worry as I moved in and one of my roommates was laid off from his job. Maybe this move wasn't the best move.

I spent the next three months job hunting and trying not to go crazy being cooped up in a small apartment in a city where I couldn't spend any money. There were a lot of tough days and a lot of times I questioned my decision to leave behind all that I had built in Boston.

In February I finally started working as the Digital Content Manager for Cornell's Graduate School. It was my work on the Tufts project that landed me the job. I was lucky enough to be the first in the role and was given the opportunity to build the position in the two years I worked there.

But soon I started to feel as if I had reached the limits of the role. Working in the Admissions office instead of working with public affairs was difficult at times and I was really itching to learn some new things.

In December of 2010 I interviewed and was hired for a Marketing Manager role in the custom content division of Rodale publishing. I never thought too much about the move until a friend of mine from Canada was visiting the city and her boyfriend introduced me to a friend of his as a friend of hers from London and the only one who had stayed in publishing. Which wasn't really my goal, but somehow I had found myself right back in a publishing house.

Soon my role at Rodale began to change and as my division started restructuring I began to explore my options outside the company. I was contacted by a recruiter at a large PR firm at the end of August for a Webmaster/Online Marketing Specialist role for the company's global rebrand. I was offered the role and accepted the position. I've now been working there for about a month and finally feel like this is where I should be.

It's ironic looking back though because I never dreamed I would be working for one of the large PR firms - especially not in the NYC office of one. I never dreamed I would live in Manhattan. I never dreamed I would love working on websites and that I would be lucky enough to find a career combining my love of marketing with my passion for writing.

But, looking back, the pieces all add up. In one combination or another they all came together to point me down the path to where I am now:

PR degree > Working at publishing company in London for PRWeek > London led me to the Global Marketing program in Boston

Living in London made me feel I could take on NYC > My work in Boston for MGH and Tufts helped me get the Cornell job > The Cornell job gave me a strong background in content management > My publishing experience and GMCA degree sent me to Rodale > All of the above led me to my current role

It scares me to see just how much sense it all makes now given the indecision and agitation each of these decisions caused me at the time.

So, you see, there really was no other answer to my friend's question and I'm looking forward to the next link in the time :)

Now that my story's complete, this really is my last post here. However, that doesn't mean I'm giving up writing. For me, the stories are never really told. In all honesty, I just don't have the time to maintain two blogs at the moment and I'm looking for a different outlet now.

Something that provides me more creative license and less structure. A collection of thoughts and stories that may not always follow a story arc. If you're interested in coming along for the ride, make sure to find me at Visible Ink.

Thanks again for reading!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Complete Full Circle, Part I

"There's nothing more ironic or contradictory than life itself." - Robert De Niro

The other day a friend asked me how my recent changes were working out. I told her I was happy for the first time in a long time.

"You'll have to tell me your secret," she said.

She made it sound so easy.

"Seven years of hard work."

Honestly, that was the only thing I could possibly answer with. Looking back it's been a long journey to essentially get back where I started from.

Ironic, but somehow comforting because it makes me realize I always did know what I wanted. Maybe not in the sense of someone who decides they are want to be a doctor when they are four and spends their whole school career in pursuit of that goal, but, essentially, I did the same, just by taking the long way around.

Those of you who have followed along with this blog and my previous ones have heard bits and pieces of this story already, but I want to go back and tell it - mostly to myself - again. It's a long one, so I'll break it up into two parts so as not to overwhelm :)

Growing up I loved to read and write. In my spare time you could either find me with a book or filling notebooks with stories and poems. But for some reason I never considered it could be a career. In fact, when my kindergarten class made a book entitled "When I Grow Up" I actually drew myself as a nurse. Crazy, since there is NO WAY I would ever make it in that field for many reasons.

I continued on through high school and entered Iowa State as an undeclared major my freshman year. Urged by my LAS advisor to take a wide range of classes on my way to deciding on a major I happened to take JLMC 101: Mass Media and Society.

I LOVED the class but for some reason still didn't consider declaring as a JLMC major as broadcast and newspaper reporting never held any appeal to me. Time went by and as sophomore year began and the deadline to declare approached, I decided to give Journalism a try and signed up for a full schedule of JLMC curriculum.

All of a sudden I realized a passion for writing didn't mean I was limited to being an english major, an author, or in broadcast. I discovered the perfect combination for the girl who loved socializing, writing and was fairly organized - PR.

My junior year at Iowa State I got very involved in PRSSA and clearly remember the president of our chapter being awarded a summer internship at Weber Shandwick in NYC, which we all thought was the biggest deal ever.

I had developed an interest in health care communications and finished my senior year with an internship at the local hospital. As graduation approached, I decided to pursue another great passion of mine - traveling and made arrangements to move to London and work for six months before getting serious about job hunting.

In December of 2002 I thought I was all set. I would go to London, have a great time and then come home and get a job in PR at one of the hospitals.

Little did I know London would change everything.

In London, I landed a job as an editorial assistant at Haymarket Publishing. Working on Contact US, a supplement to PR Week, my job was to research suitable entries for the directory. One of the categories happened to be education and in researching all of the PR/Communications programs, a few schools popped up again and again in my research.

***Six months later ***

I return Stateside and begin looking for a job in PR. The job market at home was never good and I struggled to find something in my field. Three - unrelated - jobs later I landed in a temp job for a small computer engineering firm working as the receptionist/internet help desk/marketing girl.

I loved working there and helped with tradeshows, lunch and learn events, a Microsoft Across America event and had multiple copywriting tasks. I was learning a lot about technology and enjoying my coworkers. Unfortunately, six months after I started they lost a few clients and decided to eliminate my position.

I was at a loss. It had taken me three jobs to finally get somewhere I wanted to be and now I was looking at starting all over again. I began contemplating grad school. I thought maybe more skills would give me an edge since I lacked the years of experience everyone seemed to require.

Racing against upcoming application deadlines, I managed to apply to five schools. Two in the midwest, Columbia - just to say I had tried :), a publishing program in London - and this Emerson College I had read so much about while working at Haymarket.

I had applied to various programs at each school, and, as I waited to hear back, I started wondering which program would be the best fit for my career goals. I got into the program in London first and was so excited about the possibility of returning to the country I had been so sad to leave a year and a half earlier. I got into the two schools in the midwest and got rejected from Columbia - big surprise :)

As I tried to weigh the pros and cons of each of these programs, I wondered about Emerson. I had never heard of the school before London and had never been to the East Coast. I wasn't exactly sure what my career goal was and it was making the decision difficult. I eventually ruled out London as much as it broke my heart, since I decided a publishing career would not be a smart move. Since I was having trouble deciding between the remaining similar programs, I decided Emerson would be the deal breaker. If I got in, I had to go.

As the response deadline for each program approached, I worried more and more. Just in time I heard back from Emerson. They admitted me and I accepted. I surprised everyone by announcing I was moving to Boston in a month for a year-long intensive Master's program.

I was going to go and once I moved back to Des Moines at the end of the year I would be eligible to apply for all the jobs asking for five years of experience or a Master's degree. I was all set.

But once again, Boston changed everything.

To be continued....

Monday, October 24, 2011

Emerging on the Lighter Side of Darkness

I'm happy.

Only two words, but it's sad that I realize how long it's been since I was really, truly happy and could make such a simple statement.

I'm saying this from a place where everything is different...on too many levels to even address tonight in this entry, really.

But everything is.

A lot of differences makes one happier me and I'll be back to write more soon, but for now, excuse me while I'm off to go remember this.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Announcing Visible Ink

As I put words to paper again, so to speak, I realize one of the reasons I felt uninspired by blogging for awhile was that I feel this blog is too focused for some of the things I feel compelled to write at times.

I don't want to ruin that so I'm choosing to launch another blog for stories that are inspired by other things - the past and present, some real and some imagined. I make no promises as to where it will go, I can only say it will be nothing less than interesting.

For those of you who wish to come along, story time is about to begin:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

3 Strikes You're Out...I Mean, Third Times a Charm?

Standing at the plate with a full count. Hoping to hit it out of the park, but I've only got one more strike.

That's the perfect analogy for how I feel right now. After two tries at making NYC the perfect situation for me, I'm staring down a third. This time everything's different.


So all I can give it is one more shot. The pitch has been thrown and I'm taking a swing.

Let's hope it's a home run instead of an out.

Monday, September 26, 2011

When I abandoned this blog so long ago, I vowed not to return until I was beginning a new adventure and could start over with a new blog. But, because the past makes us who we are and because writing is like oxygen to me, I'm back.

I really wasn't fair when I said I was leaving until a new adventure came along because essentially every day in this city - or any other, really - is a new adventure. The time that has elapsed between my last entry and this one have been anything but adventure-less.

Stay tuned...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Signing off

I started this blog almost three years ago now. A lot has happened since then and I'm glad I have an archive of all that I've gone through living in the city. Looking back brings so many emotions. There have been some great moments and also moments of incredible loneliness. Moving to Manhattan has tested so many parts of me and I hope, along the way, I've gained more than I've lost.

I took a brief break from this blog a short while ago because I felt the words escaping me. The truth is, I don't want to write here anymore. I've always written this blog for myself and no one else and I don't feel that writing here is providing me anything more than unnecessary time spent dwelling on things lately.

So, when a new start comes, so will a new blog.

Until the next adventure....