I’m Ready To Start Freelancing, But I’m Afraid To Pitch!

I feel like I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again: I fell into writing by accident. This blogging this started on a lark, as a way to vent about the stress of my PhD program. I didn’t expect to do it long-term, and I didn’t expect anyone to read it. But people did read it, and they kept encouraging me to write. And then I fell into my internship with A Practical Wedding. Over the course of my year-long internship, I learned so much about writing for the web, and got plenty of practice writing different types of pieces – essay, sponsored, roundup, etc.

When I started my internship, my goal was to develop my writing skills so that I could start pitching as a freelancer. I know I gained the skills, but I didn’t gain the confidence! I feel so intimidated by freelancers who have training (like degrees in English) and have published pieces for respected outlets. Beyond my APW community, I don’t have connections to editors. All I’ve got is a list of outlets that I’d love to pitch to and publish in, and a growing list of piece ideas that I’m a bit nervous about.

I think I’m suffering from imposter syndrome. I’m worried that my attempts to pitch will be seen as amateurish. I’m worried that my ideas will be rejected. My fear of rejection is paralyzing me. I haven’t even pitched anything to APW, and I have a blanket invitation! My brain is struggling a bit – I don’t wanna blame it on the baby…but it’s the baby. Maybe when I go back to work, my brain power will come back too? But beyond that, I’m trying to work on getting past my fear and just jumping into freelancing. I know that “no” is the worst thing that can happen, and yet I’m still nervous and afraid to truly put myself out there.

Any tips on how to get over my fear and just do it?

 

Remembering That Time I Was Brave, So That I Can Be Brave Once Again

She Who Is Brave Is Free

Last week, I had a breakfast meeting with my friend BL. I hadn’t seen her in a while and I wanted to catch up, but I also wanted to pick her brain about business ideas. See, BL is my inspiration for where I want to be – not only does she have a successful corporate career, but she has an equally successful side venture. In short, she’s doing what I want to do, so it makes sense to go to someone who is doing what you’re looking to do, right?

Over some yummy breakfast food, I walked BL through my ideas, my frustrations, and my fear of putting myself out there and trying something new. She gave me encouragement, some ideas and some advice. She also gave me a bit of a wake-up, when she looked at me and proclaimed, “dude, you married someone from Twitter, you’re already brave!” Ha. Yes, to most folks, marrying a person you met on social media seems like a crazy idea, so in that regard, I’m extremely brave. But I get what she meant – I’ve already conquered a fear and come out on top, so I simply need to do it again.

Later that day, as I was processing the day and everything we talked about, it dawned on me that there was another time in my life when I conquered a fear and came out on top. Ten years ago, I was a PhD student at my dream school. Up until that point, I’d achieved everything I’d set out to do. I’d made a few adjustments to my life plan, but overall I was still on the path that I’d set out for myself as a young teen, when I decided to pursue scientific research as a career. A PhD in chemistry was my last step before I embarked on an academic research and teaching career. There was just one problem – I was miserable! No one truly explained to me that life as a PhD student wasn’t as easy as they make it seem. I found myself working all the time, either in the lab, or teaching, or taking my own courses. Once my coursework was completed, my workload grew due to qualifying exams and other commitments. I enjoyed my research, and I learned a lot, but I hated the other parts that came along with research. I hated spending hours running NMR samples, or analyzing GC-MS results, because using industry-standard spectral libraries wasn’t allowed. Each Sunday, I got a pit in my stomach, because Monday was coming and that meant it was time for another meeting with my research group. I would sit in those meetings and pray that I had analyzed all my results correctly and prepped adequately, because if I hadn’t, I’d be publicly berated by my research adviser.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I hated my PhD program so much that it manifested as physical illness. I already suffered from migraines, but they became more frequent in the second year of my program. I also developed tension headaches, which forced me to abandon my lab in the middle of work and seek a quiet, dark place to recuperate. A visit to the health center diagnosed me, and I was given drugs to help the symptoms, but they did not give much relief. As my headaches got worse, my confidence and self-esteem suffered as well. I’d always felt I was smarter than the average bear, but graduate school made me question my abilities. Almost every day I had an experience with a professor or postdoc that left me wondering if I even belonged there. Of course, it wasn’t just me – we all swapped stories of how a professor treated us like garbage for not knowing the answer to a question, or received a bad test grade. My other classmates took it as par for the course, but I internalized a lot of the criticism I received.

The stress, the criticism, my health issues – I couldn’t take it anymore. I considered other options, such as transferring to a different school, or changing advisers. In the end, it was clear to me that simply changing schools wouldn’t solve my problem, because my problem was rooted in the PhD experience. A change of scenery or a different adviser wouldn’t change that. I toyed with switching to a public policy degree, but while I enjoyed the courses and learning something new, but my heart was still in the sciences and laboratory work.

And that’s when I pulled the trigger – I applied to graduate with a Master’s in chemistry, instead of staying to finish my PhD.

I could have pushed through three more years of research, and late nights in the lab, and writing papers. I could have written a dissertation and defended and graduated as Dr. Tucker. But it wasn’t worth it to me anymore. My health was suffering, both physically and mentally, and I realized that a PhD wasn’t worth my health. But it was so scary to make that decision. I feared judgement and ridicule from my peers, family and friends. I didn’t want to be a quitter. I wanted to make people proud of me. And I wanted to fulfill that childhood dream of an academic research career. Quitting my PhD meant saying goodbye to that.

Looking back, I see now how brave I was to give up the path I’d been on for years, and decide to pursue something new. As much as I wanted a PhD, I learned that it wasn’t meant for me. Leaving school and starting my career turned out to be a good decision and a blessing. But in the moment, it was scary and I was unsure it would pay off. Fast forward ten years, and now I feel the same way, only this time I want to walk away from a traditional corporate career. The fear I feel is bigger this time, because I have more riding on it – I’m not a broke PhD student living off ramen noodles, now I have bills and I’ve gotten very comfortable making good money. But my career is also a gift, and I have the luxury to pursue other passions while I work my day job, until I’m ready to make a move. And I have great friends to give me the push I need to take the first steps towards fulfilling my dreams and passions.

Big steps towards my dreams are coming soon – stay tuned!

I Changed My Definition Of Career Success

Successful career list

 

I’m a typical Gen Y’er and if you’re a Gen Y’er like me, you probably grew up with the same mantra – do well in school, go to a good college, so you can get a good job. Then work work work so you can get all the promotions and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Making lots of money, having an executive title – THAT was success, and hence what we all should strive for. This mantra was repeated by our parents, our teachers, our mentors, and reinforced in the media. So I adopted it, and I set my sights on achieving it. I started college as an engineering major and interning at a Fortune 500 company. I switched my major to chemistry but headed to grad school, to further my training, and hopefully make more money after graduation.I had a brief flirtation with the idea of going into academia, but in the end I decided to go the corporate route.

When I started my “grown up” career at 24, I was full of new grad optimism and enthusiasm. I wanted to learn as much as I could, and overachieve so that I could get promoted, because that’s what I was expected to do, right? So I volunteered for all these extra projects at work, and did the career development stuff that is pushed to new grads in large corporations. I believed all those stories that said if you work hard and don’t be a lazy young person, you’ll be rewarded. And I was, at least monetarily. My salary grew by leaps and bounds but that promotion? I had to change companies to get it. Despite my work, networking with allies and mentors and career development, for whatever reason, promotions in role weren’t coming my way.

It’s been almost ten years since I started my corporate career, and my view of success has changed drastically since I was a new grad. I had a feeling that my priorities and career goals had changed, and last week showed me that  my definition of success has changed as well.

Last week I had my performance review. I wasn’t super excited about it and expected the worst, not because of my performance but because of the drastic changes happening within my company. I survived many layoffs in 2015, and the subsequent personnel changes resulted in numerous changes to my chain of command. I’ve had 5 direct managers, plus many VPs and other executives that I report to. When the review period started, I realized that there was no one left in my department who could reflect and comment on my entire 2015 performance, because everyone was gone. Crazy, right? So I didn’t have high expectations for my performance review results. My score was decent, and I received a small raise but once again, I was not promoted. When I started with this company 3.5 years ago, getting a promotion was high on my list, but due to circumstances beyond my control it has yet to happen.

I expected to walk away upset, questioning myself, questioning if this is the place for me – the types of reactions that I’ve had before. This time I walked away with a #kanyeshrug and went about my business. And then I paused, and I asked myself if I should be upset because I wasn’t promoted. Like my initial reaction went something like this:

Me: Still got a job? Getting more money? Cool

My brain: Wait, you’re still at the same level you were when you started. Aren’t you upset? You should be upset.

Me: Wait, I should be upset? For why?

My brain: You’re supposed to get promoted! You’re supposed to want to be an executive with a fancy title and a big office! Did you forget?

Me: OH. For real? I’m supposed to want that?

My brain: DUH! Everybody wants that…right?

And that’s when I had to have a quick DM chat with a couple of friends, who talked me off the ledge. I was totally fine until I started thinking, and all those rules about success that I was taught as a child started flooding into my brain. I grew up with a message that success meant a fancy title, a big office, the big money, etc. Everyday I see lists about the Top 30 under 30, or see LinkedIn updates from people I went to school with announcing their promotions and fancy jobs and whatnot. I’ve been conditioned to want a specific type of success but I have not been able to achieve that, at least not yet.

I’m OK with where I am in my career. During these ten years I’ve worked, I see what it takes to get to those high levels, and nothing about it is appealing to me. I don’t want to spend my nights and weekends working. I don’t want to have a company cell phone and spend every waking moment being available for work. I don’t want to go on vacation but still log into work each day (that’s not a vacation). I don’t want to work 60+ hours a week, and not have time to do anything other than work and sleep. None of that is appealing to me. I love my work-life balance and I love that I can leave work at work and pursue other things in my free time. I don’t love that my hard work doesn’t directly benefit my bottom line, but I love that my direct deposit hits my account on a regular schedule.

I’ve arrived at a state of peace in my view of my career. I’ve realized that my passions lie elsewhere and that I value different things than I did when I was 24. I’ve learned that a successful career doesn’t look the same for everyone, and that I have the ability to define success for myself. After a moment of angst, I realize that not getting a promotion is a blessing as well, as it gives me time to focus on the things I enjoy, and less pressure in the office. If I do climb a ladder, it’s going to be my ladder, not a predetermined corporate ladder. I probably will never have an executive title, unless it’s a title for my own endeavor. And honestly, I like the sound of CEO of My Thing better than VP of Corporate Whatever.

What say you readers – what does a successful career look like to you? Have you achieved it? 

Things I’d Rather Do Instead Of Working A Traditional Job

I’ve reached the point in my career where I fantasize about all the other things I’d rather be doing instead of going to work everyday. Here’s the list, in no particular order:

  • Knitting fun things – hats, scarfs, coffee mug sleeves, fingerless gloves, mittens, etc.
  • Going to yoga practice
  • Writing
  • Researching wedding stuff – trends, cool vendors, interesting traditions
  • Writing about things found during previously mentioned wedding research
  • Completing yoga teacher training
  • Opening an Etsy shop to sell all those cool knitting projects I want to do
  • International travel
  • Going to movie screenings
  • Writing reviews of said movies seen during screenings
  • Domestic travel
  • Writing about the cool things I saw during all this travel
  • Continuing to knit cool things
  • Maybe teach some folks how to knit some of the cool things I’ve made
  • Teaching people how to do Six Sigma
  • Teaching people project management methodology
  • Advising college students – specifically Black college students in STEM fields
  • Presenting workshops
  • Still more knitting
  • Some more travel – I need more passport stamps
  • Throw some more yoga in there – more classes both as a student and a teacher
  • Doing wedding research for busy brides or brides who don’t know what they want and where to start

Any idea how I can make a career or at least make some money doing these things? Cause this corporate game has me pretty down. 

Career Stagnation To Career Progression

career chart

In my life, I have been blessed with both a gift and a curse. I have above-average intelligence and a strong desire to learn and understand new things. I also am both lazy and a procrastinator. Remember when we were all taught in school that hard work pays off? I was that kid who things either came easy to, or I was looking for way to cut the amount of hard work I had to do. I think it was my father who clued me in on an important lesson – it’s more important to work hard, than to work smart. Time and experience taught me that he was right. People say you need to work hard, but working hard without having some sense behind it can be wasted effort.

I grew up with the type of parents who wanted me to have what they had and even more. That meant that college was not an option, it was an expectation. It was never explicitly said, but I assumed that I’d follow the path everyone else does: go to college, graduate, get a corporate job and kill it. 17-year-old Jubi just knew she would be a VP of R&D for a Fortune 100 company one day, it was just a matter of time. I mean, it’s super easy to make it up the corporate ladder, right?

After college and grad school, I jumped into the corporate world full force. I’d read the books and the articles, I’d attended the career office sessions, and I was armed with lots of advice from my mentors. I had lofty goals to make my mark and zoom up the ladder to success. My first job was with a defense contractor, and I was the first new hire in the labs in 15+ years. I was also the only woman, the only person of color, and the youngest by at least 30 years. I jumped in with both feet, and I worked hard. I volunteered for everything I could, from community volunteer events to the corporate recruiting team. I asked for stretch assignments and my eagerness and desire to learn was rewarded with challenging assignments that a new grad probably shouldn’t have handled. I mapped out a career progression plan with my manager, and I set my sights on becoming the lab group supervisor in 3-5 years, knowing that the current supervisor was soon to retire. What I didn’t know was coming was the housing crisis in 2006. Central Florida was hurt hard, and that meant there was no movement – people who planned to retire were staying at work, given the uncertain outlook of their retirement accounts.

I took all of that experience and excitement and moved to a new company in a new industry. In that role, I had to work hard AND work smart. It was a very challenging role, in an industry I was learning, and I was expected to perform as if I’d been working there all my life. The standards were high, and I felt as if I’d be thrown into the deep end of the pool when I’d barely mastered treading water. When you’re drowning (or you think you’re drowning), you’re trying to not panic but inside you’re freaking out and trying not to die. The first 12-18 months in that role was a perpetual feeling of drowning. I tried to act like I had it all together and I knew what I was doing, but inside I wanted to cry every day. Some days, I did cry in the lab, or at home after work. I worried that I was failing, and that I couldn’t cut it. But somewhere in there, I realized that I learned a lot. I realized that I had learned to swim, and I was doing more than just treading water. I was providing value! I was learning and growing and figuring things out! But…I was not enjoying what I was doing. My company was not known for work/life balance, and it would only get worse with each promotion. That’s not the life I wanted, and I was also tired of life in the lab. I wanted change and so when the opportunity presented itself, I took it.

I changed careers and industries three years ago. In that time I’ve gone from loving my job, to hating my job, to wanting to walk out and never come back to my job, to loving it again, to now. At the present moment, I’ve settled on indifference, both towards my company and my career. I come to work, I do a few things, but the passion is gone. My attitude as of late has been “well, I’ll just keep showing up until they tell me to stop coming.”

I’m still not sure if the leap was a good move. After three years, I’m still at the same level in my company, despite my attempts at promotions. I survived some less-than stellar managers, including one who refused to promote any of the women on his team. I also survived several layoffs and three reorganizations, and 4 different managers in one year. I look at a few of my former teammates who also started around the time I did, and they have made more progression in their careers at our company. Some of it is strictly “right place, right time” but I wonder how much of it is me. Is this truly the right place for me?

Looking back, I’ve learned a lot about how the working world works. I know that my career progression isn’t going to be a straight line. I also don’t want to wake up and see another 5 years have passed, and I’m still stuck at the same level. Even if I do stay at the same level, I’d be happy if I found a challenge in my work, and I felt that my work added value. Right now, I feel neither.  I feel “stuck” and I worry that I will wake up five years from now, still in the same position, at the same level, in the same company. That is my greatest fear and so, all my energy is devoted to preventing that from happening.

Any tips for me?

 

 

Somehow I’ve Become A Contestant On Corporate Survivor

Three years ago, I received a job offer from my current company.

Back then, I was so excited! After much contemplation, I made the decision to take a break from life in the chemistry lab, and try something new. I loved my time as a lab chemist, but my last laboratory role left me burnt out and bitter. It was stressful working for a rigorous company, and I was overworked. I envied the work-life balance that other people had, and I wanted that for myself.

Making the leap to a new company and a new career seemed like a no-brainer. I traded my lab coats and safety glasses for heels and dresses. Instead of commuting to a manufacturing site in the suburbs, I began working downtown, enjoying both the easier commute and the after-work happy hours. No more spending my days running samples, or dealing with unreasonable requests data, or taking apart chromatography equipment. I traded all that in for a new career in supply chain, and I was so excited to start my new career journey.

As with most experiences, the beginning of my career journey was all sunshine and roses. I was so excited when I wore my first dress and pair of heels to work – seriously, I’d never done it before. That sort of attire isn’t really practical for the lab. Along with my new wardrobe, I also enjoyed learning a new industry, and I found that I had an aptitude for it. Spoiler alert: supply chain operations is similar to manufacturing operations. I met lots of new people and even got paid to spend 30 minutes at a time talking to people I already knew. And my pay was better. With all that, what’s not to like?

After the first year, I ended up with a new manager, a new project and my work life went from sugar to shit. It’s amazing how much your manager can make or break your work experience. I spent 15 months on a challenging assignment, that taught me a lot but also tested me hard. At the lowest moments, I contemplated taking my now-husband’s offer to quit my job and move to DC. But I stuck it out – partly because I knew it wouldn’t be bad forever and partially because I refused to let my then-manager have the satisfaction of chasing me out of the company.

I survived that horrible manager, and that horrible project, and I moved to a new role in a new area. Things started looking up again. I was beginning to feel encouraged…and then the bottom fell out of the whole thing. My company executed a massive layoff, slashing a large chunk of the workforce in a day. I call that day Bloody Tuesday and it actually fell the same week as our wedding. Talk about timing. That day was so tough, seeing so many people who I knew, worked with, my friends, walked out of the building with their belongings in a white box. It was so brutal. And that wasn’t the end of the layoffs – we’ve had an additional two more rounds. The gossip mill says there will be yet another this year, a large one to rival the layoffs we experienced this spring.

Is it bad that I’m hoping that I would be laid off?

I realized recently that my corporate life feels like a season of the game show Survivor. Each one of us is hoping to make it another week, another month, and hopefully be the last one standing on the island when the game is over. We know that hard decisions will have to be made and that everyone won’t end up on the island when the game is over. And it’s stressful to live this way. It’s stressful to try to produce meaningful work in this situation.

How can you plan your career when you don’t know if you’ll be around?

How can you do your best work, meaningful work, when you don’t know if you’ll be around tomorrow to finish it?

How can you put your faith and trust in a company when you saw them blind side people and leave them without a livelihood?

My coworkers and I all walk on eggshells each day. We talk to each other in hushed tones, whispering about the latest rumors we’ve heard. We don’t speak it, but each of us wonders if we’ll be able to survive. We congratulate the people who resign, as they move on to what are hopefully more stable pastures. We hope that one day that will be us, that we’ll be able to make it off the island.

So much has happened in three years. Things have changed, I’ve grown, and it feels like it’s time to move to the next opportunity. I hope to move to it voluntarily but who knows how this game of Corporate Survivor will turn out.

 

I Received The Gift Of Feedback And I Want To Return To Sender

I’ve worked in the corporate world for my entire career, and it can be a strange and challenging place. It’s had its ups and downs, but I’ve always been able to manage the corporate lifestyle without much struggle. Part of corporate life is feedback, and the 360 review. It comes in many forms and is called many things, but essentially they all involve various people you work with providing anonymous feedback about you. I had mine recently and it was…eye-opening.

On my team, I’m the only person of color. I’m also one of 2 people on my team who doesn’t have direct experience in our project area, out of a team of 12. I was hired specifically because I didn’t have the direct experience, to bring new ideas and perspectives as we improve processes. I jumped in, learned a ton, and made some impressive contributions in my first six months on the team. I even received an award from my VP! I thought I was doing great…until I received my 360 feedback. For positives I was listed as a strong problem solver with out of the box ideas who could relate well to others. Cool, I agree with all that.

Then I got my negative feedback and that’s where my assessment went way left. I was listed as very opinionated, and intimating in large meetings when I ask lots of questions and am vocal with ideas, and I’m only relatable in 1-on-1 settings. Apparently I should also stop asking so many questions and having so many ideas, until I know more. And finally, I should stop making old jokes with a teammate because I make other people feel uncomfortable…even though the person I’m joking with thinks it’s hilarious.

I can’t even lie, when I heard this, I was both pissed off and hurt at the same time. To date, no one has said any of this to my face. Not my manager, teammates, or partners on projects. So where is all this new feedback coming from? Why is it only shared in an anonymous survey instead of coming to me? And why am I still waiting for the person for the strongest comments to come talk to me in person, as they were encouraged to do by my manager?

Cause I live and work in passive aggressive Minnesota, that’s why. And nothing says passive aggressive like waiting until you have an anonymous venue to share all the stuff you don’t like about someone. What this really comes down is I am too opinionated, too assertive, and much about business. I am too damn good at my job, especially to be a Black woman who doesn’t have any direct experience in the subject area. And I’m a Black woman who refuses to kiss anyone’s ass or break my neck to play the corporate game to get ahead. I take care of my business and I don’t allow folks to walk all over me the way they want to in the office. Well boo hoo kids, cause it’s only going to get worse for you.

It stung at first, but my assessment was eye-opening for me. It showed me that no matter how great I am, I will always be less than to folks, because of my race and my gender. I can be excellent at what I do, and it won’t matter, because I’m an outsider and different. They want me to sit back and be quiet but that’s not what I’m about. I’ll keep on being who I am in the office…until it’s time for me to move on to my own business. Until then I’ll just be the opinionated Black woman in the office.

Playing The Game When My Heart Isn’t In It

I wrote a few months ago about how my relatively new job took a turn for the worst, after getting both a new boss and a new project. Both suck a ridiculous amount. I mean suck like a Hoover vacuum. New boss is a classic micromanager who is a great project manager but has zero ability to lead and develop a team. New project was bad bad bad bad bad – so bad that there was no fixing, it really needed to be burned to the ground and started all the way over. But of course that wasn’t going to happen.

In the beginning I was pissed off and angry and I hated going to work. Everyday was a struggle and I began to doubt myself and my abilities. I wanted to just say fuck it and jump ship…but it was the holidays and no one was biting. And slowly, over time, things started to get a bit better. Everyone on my team hates my boss and higher-ups have begun to catch wind of it, so now he’s attempting to treat some of us better.  Notice I said some though – there’s some folks he hates and some folks he loves. I seem to be in the middle, which I suppose is ok. The project that has been a hot mess since Day 1, well it’s not quite as shitty as it was before. It’s still incredibly frustrating though because they keep repeating the same mistakes as last year.

While my project and working relationship with my manager have gotten better, I know I don’t want to stay in this role another year. The great thing about my company is that they encourage employees to move around to different areas, and in some areas it’s frowned upon if you stay in your role too long. I’m trying to maximize my connections to move into a role that’s a better fit for me and with what I want to do long-term. My manager may be an obstacle to that, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

This morning my division had an all-hands meeting, where they present financials, company initiatives, and awards. My manager, my teammates and I were all recognized for our efforts working on this difficult project for months. I must admit, it felt good to FINALLY be recognized for all the hard work we’d put in on this difficult project. My team was handling things that really shouldn’t have been on our plates, but our team had the technical ability to do things others couldn’t. The recognition was cool, but while I sat in the meeting, I had a thought – I’m still wasting my talent in this job. I’m wasting my talent staying in a corporate role and working for someone else’s bottom line. 

I’ve mentally checked out of the corporate game. My heart hasn’t been in it for a long time. I’ve become jaded and cynically when it comes to corporate life for myself. I see people who work really hard, to give up their free time, their time with their family and friends, to do work stuff. And those same people don’t get rewarded for that hard work, especially at my company. This place rewards the popular people and that’s it. If you work hard and keep your head down, you’ll never get anywhere; but those who spend more time talking to people than producing get promotions. At least at my previous companies, work product was what got you promoted. Every day I people who produce nothing but are great at talking and making friends get ahead. There’s no incentive to do well, other than one’s own standards and work ethic.

I see the life I want and I see others living it. I have so much passion for what I truly want to do. I have a desire to help people get to where they want to be professionally. I have the knowledge and experience to make it happen. What I don’t have is a crystal ball to tell me that I will be successful at it. Instead I have a big dose of fear that I will fall flat on my face. A corporate job is a comfy safety net – I know that I can come to work, put in my time, and get these bills paid every 2 weeks. But I also have all the other things that come with the corporate life – a rigid schedule, a lack of time to myself, and the knowledge that at any time they can get rid of me, even if I’m producing. Seeing my company lay off high performers let’s me know that I will never be completely safe if I’m at the mercy of a corporation.

I have the plan. I have the vision. I just need more confidence to make my dream a reality.

Send me some good vibes and a bunch of “you can do it!” energy…..I’m ready to start going after this thing…

The Honeymoon Is Over

Remember my excitement last year over getting a new job? I switched careers, companies, even the area  in town I was working.

In the beginning it was great – a totally new experience that I was able to embrace. I was able to take the time I needed to learn a new industry and a new role, and get acclimated to the company culture. I enjoyed my projects and my team. Everything seemed like it was a great move to make…and then things changed over the summer. My manager transitioned to a new role, and a manager from a team within our department transferred over to replace her. These two managers are like night and day, and the transition for me was difficult. This is the first time I’ve gotten a new manager so I was unprepared for that experience. I had high hopes…but my new manager and I just don’t have a good rapport. His management style and my working style totally clash, and it’s been difficult for me to take his criticisms, since I feel most are unwarranted.

The first thing my new manager did was put me on a new project, which I can only describe as the seventh circle of hell. It’s been a complete and total clusterfuck since the beginning, and instead of recognizing that they screwed up, my company has instead decided to throw more and more people at the problem. The problem isn’t resources or manpower – the initial planning of this project was flawed from the beginning and no amount of people can now fix it. So I spend lots of time doing things that are “urgent” but really I just feel like I’m doing busy week. I’m way too smart to be spending time doing tasks that aren’t value added.

So I say all of that to say…I’m unhappy. Not as unhappy as I was when I worked in the lab, but unhappy. I want to do something different – I want off this project, off this team, and really out of this department. Unfortunately I don’t see my manager giving the go-ahead to move to a new team, especially since his entire team wants to move to other pursuits. I would love to just change roles/teams but I’m resigning myself to the idea that my only way to escape is to move companies. I don’t feel optimistic that an internal move would be approved. Beyond that, my company has already done one round of layoffs, which was not handled well at all. I have zero confidence in my job security, and I’d rather leave on my own, instead of receiving a layoff notice.

It sucks that I’m job hunting once again…but it must be done. Here’s hoping I find something soon.

Notes On The New Job

So I started the new job one week ago #yay and its been quite an experience. First, I have once again completely changed industries. I’ve also changed my career path, going from a very technical role to a slightly technical role. I’ve left chemistry behind & now I’m doing process improvement & project management in supply chain (think Six Sigma). I’ll still be using my skills in data analysis and process improvement, but without the hassle of the lab. I’ve also changed locations – I’m still in the Twin Cities, but I’ve gone from a manufacturing site way out in the burbs, to a high-rise building in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

So…I’ve had a lot of change lately! New position, new career path, new company, new industry, new location…and even new wardrobe. With all this change I’ve made some observations about this experience.

* Remember that post I did about 5 things my new job would allow me to do? Well this job satisfies a lot of those. I no longer work in a lab, so goodbye to my safety shoes, safety glasses & lab coats! I also have to wear nice clothes to work, as my company has a business professional dress code. I’ll be wearing a lot more dresses, skirts & suits to the office. I won’t be doing a ton of travel in my new position, but I do have a trip soon & I get to go on one of the corporate jets!

* The cultures btwn my last job & my new job are like night & day – I went from an industrial company that was big on “results above everything else” to a company that places relationships & collaboration above everything else. Because of that, I’m spending my first few weeks simply meeting people I’ll interface with regularly & building those relationships. This is completely different from my last experience, when I was thrown into the deep end with no context or understanding of what I was doing. My new company seems much more interested in developing talented employees & recognizing those who do great work, which I appreciate.

* Working downtown is awesomeness – I socialize a lot downtown so I was familiar with the area, but I had no idea how awesome it would be to work down here. First, I can commute into work via an express bus, bypassing the stress of rush hour traffic & the expense of parking. Next, there are so many stores, shops & restaurants here, and it’s totally fine for me to take 30 mins out of my day & pick up something from Macy’s or Barnes & Noble. And with the skyway system, I can go all over downtown without having to go outside. In my actual building, I work near the top (>30th floor) and my phone works in my office! \o/ And I’m no longer freezing to death like I was in my office, in fact, I’m a bit warm up here.

* I couldn’t have the new job without the old job – As much as I whined, complained & straight up hated the old job, I absolutely would not have the skills for the new job without it. I realized last year that I was meant to learn something from my last job & until I did, I wasn’t going to move on. I learned a ton in that job – about handling adversity, how to manage my manager, and lots of technical things like Six Sigma & project management. I learned & grew a lot & that’s never comfortable. I had a lot of growing pains, but I grew a lot from that experience.

I’m only a week in, but so far I’m enjoying this new experience. I’m just trying to make connections & soak up as much as I can.