Saturday, June 4, 2011

Finding Mr. Right Career

Big things are in the works for me. I found out a couple weeks ago that I got a new job that I had been dying to get. Seriously - a rare, doesn't-come-too-often, awesome, exciting job! I know I'm a hard worker in general, but this was something I worked even harder for, and the fact that it paid off just about makes this one of my most prized accomplishments to date.

I hadn't been actively looking to change jobs. My current one was working out fine, and I just love my co-workers there. The 3-mile commute was grand, and getting off at 4:30 every day made life pretty breezy.

And therein lies the rub.

I don't want to always take the easy route. I don't want everything to just slide on by to the point where I'm barely using my brain anymore. This hit me big time about a month ago when I was invited to a BBQ/trivia party. I don't think I knew the answer to more than 3 questions the whole night. It got me thinking - am I getting dumber?

I've noticed for awhile that I needed a challenge. Half of the reason I've taken on new hobbies and volunteer opportunities is because I felt the need to be more dedicated to things. I was going to work, coming home and not even giving work a second thought. That disconnect is what led me to pursue this new opportunity.

Many weeks ago, I saw that Big PR Agency Downtown was hiring a mid-level executive. This was the same agency I'd interned for in San Francisco, so I thought that maybe that would be my "in." I applied for it and got a call for a short phone interview the following week. The minute I started talking with the HR person, I knew this job was amazing. The clients are mainly food and wine, and the job requires some travel to places like Miami, New Orleans, Boston, Seattle. I immediately was bound and determined to get this job.

Thankfully, I was asked to come into the office for a full-on interview. So I updated my portfolio and got some writing samples together. I remembered all of the basic techniques of a job interview, and having helped interview many people for work, I knew that it was going to take more than a clean portfolio and decent writing sample to get me to stand out. Everyone knows to do that stuff, but not everyone goes above and beyond what is asked of them.

So I whipped out my creative side and drafted a pretend food-related blog post for their company blog (something they are very well known for). It was rather cheesy, I'll admit, but I wanted to showcase my writing skills, food knowledge (beyond just "I like it") and creativity.

That interview went so great. I equivocate it to an awesome first date - you feel comfortable, at ease and like this is where you belong. It sparked this new desire in me that I hadn't experienced since college - that whole "the world is my oyster" kind of passion that drives me to go after what I want rather than just going through my days with a perfunctory approach.

And like that date that goes so well, eventually major insecurity ensues. "What if they don't like me? What if the chemistry was just my imagination?" I even found about.....get ready for it.....another woman! Through some sleuthing skills, I discovered a girl whom I assumed was going for the position as well. After reading her credentials on LinkedIn, my heart sank. This girl seemed perfect for the job.

I hate to admit that this actually led to me shedding tears, but since we all know this story has a happy ending, I can throw that in there for drama. I was so disappointed that I'd gotten my hopes up, and here this perfect person was going to take it all away from me, even though I just knew I could do that job.

Thankfully, I put to good use another invaluable skill in the PR world - utilizing who you know. I contacted a girl I knew from the SF office, and she got in touch with a girl who worked with her but had recently transferred from Sac. She was able to do a little recon for me, which I feel like is the whole reason I got this job - she discovered I was still in the running, but if I had any more proof of my food and wine skills, I'd better demonstrate it.

That refueled my fire, and I got to work right away, drafting an email to all those who'd interviewed me. I wanted to provide supplemental information, particularly because a 1-page resume and quick interview can't fully demonstrate what I'm capable of. I highlighted my relevant skills and did so in a catchy, gimicky way.

It worked.

I was offered the job a week later. When I was first offered, I don't think it sunk in. I had been so prepared to make my rejection speech, it totally caught me off guard when they told me they wanted me!

So there it is - my exciting news about how I'm movin' on up in the PR world! My passion, drive and excitement has been re-ignited. I'm no longer on autopilot, and I'm ready to put in the time and elbow grease.

Some girls fantasize about snagging their dream man. I fantasized about snagging my dream career, and I think it's safe to say that this little PR lady will be living happily ever after.

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