There are a few agencies in my area that I find particularly inspiringly awesomely fabulous. When I was nearing completion of my diploma program, I began applying to jobs – and some of them were at those inspiringly awesomely fabulous agencies. I didn’t get any of those jobs.
There are several reasons why those agencies appeal(ed) to me for employment – most of it comes down to the recognition that I will never make as much in my current field as I have (and could have) made at previous jobs in an unrelated field. Accepting that I’m not going to get rich in this field means that, barring an unreasonably low pay rate, I’m able to choose from agencies that do something I can actually stand behind.
(This, by the way, is a crazy-lucky position to be in and I realize most people don’t have that luxury. I live in a 2-income family and the other income supported us for a good number of years when the boys moved in and while I went to school.)
The problem I had was that the agencies I wanted to work for are also the agencies where a lot of other people want to work. Word gets out, y’see, about good places and good people – and since I was almost a complete unknown save for anyone who met me during my field placements, there wasn’t much hope.
At one agency where I applied they hired someone I knew who was there for a field placement – so she had an “in” and had expressed her desire to work there and they knew her. At another, they wanted people who had a track record of doing a specific job – “proven talent” – that I didn’t have yet. One agency that I wanted to work for had no openings (the place where I did my own field placement). Another was in major transition and pulled the job posting down before they even started booking interviews.
In the end, I got my current job by letting some (“key”) people know what I was interested in doing, proving repeatedly to them that I was good at doing it, and threatening to leave my resume on their desk every single Friday until I had a job. But in the end, they didn’t hire me – because there was no opening for anything – but they knew someone who was looking and.. shazam, Violet has a job.
When I was hired for my current job – where I am happy and learning and exploring and having fun – I obviously stopped applying for other jobs at other agencies. But I continue to idolize those other agencies and the people behind them. I’m in a position now where I professionally interact with those people/places (and this blows my mind) and while I’m interacting with them I’m also checking out how they operate – what makes them awesome? what makes them inspiring? what are their staff like and how do they recruit them? I join committees and groups and I go out there and see what’s happening.
I think I’m good at what I do – but I have room to improve and learn (and oh, how I love that I have the opportunity to do that improving and learning!) and that’s part of why I keep my eyes open to what goes on around me. How are other people doing it? I try to listen to what people want to do, but can’t (for reasons that span everything from funding to agency mandates) and see if I can help out in filling a gap.
My name is getting out there as being good at what I do – which happens because I love what I do and, so, the work isn’t work. And now, when I email an agency and someone replies, “Oh! Are you the Violet with the purple hair? We’d LOVE to have you come!” I get a bit giddy. When I meet an agency’s director and we shake hands and she says, “Oh, YOU are Violet! I’ve heard SO many good things about you from [other agency staff].. It’s great to finally meet you!” I’m damned-near euphoric.
It’s good for the ego, of course. It’s better for me, though, in feeling like I made a good choice to leave that previous career path and move to this one – even though I had to start over at the beginning again.
(It also makes me totally insufferable at home. You have to pity Coffee who spends his evenings listening to me say things like, “OMG, THE DIRECTOR OF THIS AGENCY KNOWS WHO I AM AND SHE HEARD GOOD THINGS ABOUT ME!” and “THEY WOULD HAVE HIRED ME IF THEY HADN’T DECIDED TO GO INTERNALLY AND THEY TOLD ME TO APPLY THERE IN THE FUTURE BECAUSE THEY’D STILL LOVE TO HAVE ME!” and “I AM GOING TO A MEETING WITH THIS DIRECTOR AND I AM DYING OF THE HAPPY RIGHT NOW.”)
(That’s right. I get excited about meetings.)
I’ll be honest – I’m barely keeping my shit together at times. I could skip around my office like a complete moron. I incoherently tell my coworkers about my giddiness, tripping over my own words. And god help us all when I make a new connection or hatch a new plan and when things start going really well on something that I want – no matter how small – because it’s about as exciting as winning the lottery.
Many of you will remember how miserable I was at my old job. I was (really) good at the technical aspects but the environment was awful because the work I was doing didn’t really have meaning for me and the ways of the corporate world are not really compatible with the ways of the Violet. It’s possible to live an entire life doing that sort of work – and a lot of people do. Get up, go do that thing, go home. I could have, I think, taken a lot of pride in my work there – because I did it well, efficiently, easily – but .. well, yeah. No.
So it is unfuckingbelievably awesome to get up and go to work doing something I like – and something that likes me back. It is an amazing feeling to have external validation about something that has meaning for me.
Doesn’t hurt that I get to do all of this while wearing jeans and a ponytail, either.