a hope design

You can’t make comfort food with whole wheat flour…or can you?

In Career Moves, Life is Random on August 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I haven’t posted to my blog in a while because I have been stressed again about the job search. I was afraid that anything I tried to write would come out as a bunch of whining. That makes me feel guilty because, as a whole, my life is pretty darn good right now. My kids are healthy. I’m getting my bills paid despite the fact that it is no fun to have very little money left over afterwards. I have a home that will be mine in 29 1/2 years. My car runs and is very gas efficient. I get asked out on dates and asked in for interviews. Things just haven’t come together as quickly as I want them to.

The thing is, I’ve done a lot of really interesting things with my career. I didn’t finish college as I had planned back in the early 90s. This meant I had to get a little creative to make things happen. Creative is a good thing. I believe it proved to prospective employers that I can take care of business…and I CAN! On the first night of my first real job, cashier for Crafts, Etc., I was running a cash register on my own within an hour or two of arriving for work. I require very little training when I begin a new position, even when jumping from one career path to another.

I took a job as a bank teller just to make some money while taking night courses to get an Associate’s Degree. It was not what I had planned to do when I was in high school. My dream job was to become a graphic designer and work at an ad agency. With a new baby and new husband, whose employer had just filed bankruptcy, it was nice to know we’d have a steady income from somewhere.

One day, perusing the classifieds looking for my husband a job, I came across an ad for a position at an “advertising office.” I didn’t have my degree, but I saw this as a possible way to get my foot into the door for a career in advertising. That is close to an ad agency, right? I took a chance and sent in my resume. I accepted the job offer making over a dollar more an hour than I had been making at the bank as a teller. My training was to sit and listen to the Advertising Director make sales calls over the phone. I took to it naturally. Pretty soon, I was building my baby, a small start-up magazine called The Goat Rancher.  I did not know the first thing about goats, but I took the revenue of that magazine from about $500 a month in ad sales to over $10,000 a month in ad sales. I also took over making the cold calls and sending out media kits for the main publication of the advertising office.

For two weeks out of the month, I made calls to sell ads to national companies. For the other two weeks, I was the Production Coordinator for The Stockman Grass Farmer. As Advertising Production Coordinator, I was in my element. I sketched out ads on paper, helped clients come up with ad copy, talked with the typesetter about ad designs and handled all the proofing. I may not have been working for an ad agency, but I was helping my clients develop their marketing plans. I was on top of the world. Eventually, I was editing press releases for the Grazier’s Gear column and overseeing the yearly production and sales of the Buyer’s Guide. Coordinating these projects was a natural fit for me. I find happiness in being in charge of a project.

Six years later, the economy tanked, and I was looking for another job. I took a short stint at a local hunting and fishing publication, helping the company get their national ad sales going, but my heart was done with selling. The dream was tapping my shoulder. I wanted to be a graphic designer. I wanted to use my love of computers. Thanks to two very good friends, Sandra Goff, a graphic designer, and Jeff Wall, a pre-press supervisor, I had my chance. Sandra gave me a good reference and Jeff hired me on at the printing company as a pre-press operator with on-the-job training. How often does a person get a chance to accept a job without the skills to do the job? There was one skill I possessed that might be the most valuable to an employer: the skill to learn skills. There I learned Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark Xpress. Within three months, I was being taught imposition, a promotion. It is always better to get paid WHILE you are learning than to pay to learn.

Fast forward almost 10 years and you will see that I had that agency position. I have also worked as a designer for a daily newspaper and started a very modest freelance design business. I went back to school, taking online courses to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in May 2010. Today, I’m teaching myself web design. You can check out my first site using CSS here. Not bad for a little bank teller who had a baby at 19.

Penelope Trunk posted on her career advice blog that it is important to look as if you are on top of the world while you are looking for a job…even if you are not. I read that this morning and came home thinking a little comfort food would help perk me up to be more positive to continue the search. I have been down on myself because the job hunt has dragged on beyond the one year mark. I have let myself forget the awesome things I’ve accomplished in my life. This has given me a negative outlook…not good for job hunting.

So I go to the kitchen to make my favorite comfort food (other than ice cream), chicken and dumplings and realize I only have whole wheat flour. Whoever heard of making chicken and dumplings with whole wheat flour? Did I let that stop me…?

  1. Nah… you’d never let a little thing like that stop you!

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