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....

1 comment:

Andrea said...

I love reading posts like this! It was fun learning the complete story and I look forward to part two :-)