Last week, I asked you to submit career related questions over on Instagram and was blown away with the response. From appropriate office style to strategic career moves, we’ve got a lot of Q & A to get to! Some questions were answered that day, most will be answered in Friday Career Corner posts, like this, and the big ones will be saved for their own posts over the next few weeks.
Let’s get started.
How did you decide to work for yourself?
It’s always been just out of reach and I finally decided the only way I’d really know if it was sustainable was to make the jump. 6 years ago when I started blogging, things were different. I was different. At an early age, I was taught that anything is possible but serious jobs were behind desks. So when I got to college and first considered stepping outside these lines, I was quickly jolted back to “reality” after a few come to Jesus conversations. I studied Criminal Justice, took a job at State, and fell in line. It was a cool job, I liked it enough, and I was being responsible but I was unfulfilled and I could only hold that feeling off for so long. After I made the decision to leave State and DC (you can read more about that here), other decisions became a lot easier.
I wasn’t completely satisfied in the job I’d taken up here and after all the changes I made to get to where I was I knew I couldn’t get to this point and just settle. I liked what I was doing but I wanted it to be bigger. I wanted to be able to help small business owners on my own terms. I created a business plan and figured out how much money, per day, per week, per month, I’d need to bring in to make this work. And I jumped.
I’m not sure I would have made this jump in DC. I was in a different headspace and wasn’t as confident in myself as I have grown to be over the last year. One huge, scary, life-changing decision led to another and at this point I find it second nature to bet on myself.
My advice? If you’re interested in going off on your own, make a plan. Chances are, if you want it enough and you’re willing to bust your ass, it’s possible.
What has been your biggest career win or biggest challenge?
I have three answers to this one question: My biggest win at State, my biggest win as a self-employed female and my biggest challenge with my company.
My biggest win in Diplomatic Security was getting a passport in one day. My boss bet me a bottle a (good) vodka that I’d never make it happen and dammit, challenge accepted. I was traveling overseas for work and convinced that my passport was current. No chance it was close to expiring. Fun fact: It had expired that day, two days before I was getting on a plane. I was extremely interested in this particular trip and my boss had done me a solid to make it happen and all efforts were potentially moot since I’d let my passport expire. Delight. Long story short, when you want to make something happen, you make it happen. Of course, I ended up having to take my picture a second time since the first picture taken in the back of that sketchy film camera shop next to the passport office downtown wasn’t the proper size. Go figure. A day later, I had a new passport in hand with a bottle of vodka that, to this day, resides on my bar cart.
My biggest win since starting my own company was landing “Wisconsin’ Royal Wedding” as my first client. I’ve always been really interested in design and since I was little I’ve wanted to be a wedding planner (more on that today on Instagram so make sure you’re following!). I’ve done wedding stationery for friends and party announcements for family but for whatever reason never considered turning it into anything even though I enjoyed it so much. Cut to earlier this year, I’ve just started my own business and while wedding stationery was not on my list of services, the requestor knew what I had up my sleeve. Moral: Never quit your daydream.
The biggest challenge I face every day is that I’m now essentially in a customer service position – something I never thought I’d find myself in. It’s just me: I’m the talent, I’m the accountant, I’m the contract specialist, I’m the HR rep, and I’m customer service. It’s nerve-wracking, stressful, and sometimes intimidating but it’s also incredibly rewarding to contribute something meaningful to someone’s wedding day or to help a small business unleash their full potential.
What do you do when you hate your new job?
Simple answer: Look for another one.
In the meantime, gain as much experience and exposure to new things as you can. Make the time in this position work for you. Constantly think about what you’re currently doing or what you could be doing within the position to add more beef to your resume. The older we get, I think it’s less important how long we’ve stayed in a position and more important what you’re able to show you learned in it. Instead of lolly-gagging for a year, bust ass for 6 months and GTFO.
How do you know when a job is no longer for you?
You can feel it in your body.
I knew it was time to leave when the job became my life. I was unfulfilled and I knew there was something more I needed but I was content with settling. Never settle. I would become uncontrollably overwhelmed with anxiety. I couldn’t picture my future because I couldn’t see past my job. It’s time to leave when you’re having more negative experiences than positive ones – job, relationship, friends, anything. You feel like it’s sucking your soul from your body – not in a funny Devil Wears Prada kind of way but in the kind of way where you can’t get out of bed. If it’s something you’re really struggling with, I recommend finding a good therapist. Friends and family can be helpful pillars of support but there’s something about working through your own internal issues with an unbiased third party that’s incredibly powerful.
That’s a wrap for our first installment of the Career Corner Q & A! I’ll be answering more questions next Friday, as well as sharing a new Career Corner post.