Stuck in a self-made career rut

If only I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I know that sounds silly but I thought that I had life figured out to some extent two years ago. I graduated from college, got a job in magazines, had a great relationship, etc. But looking back on it now I’m not sure that even then I knew what I wanted to do. Even then I knew that I was soon to be an Army wife. I turned down interviews for other positions because I was moving in about a year. I regret still not knowing what my niche is. And here I am in graduate school, in a program that is exactly what I want to learn about to succeed, but I feel like the fact that I will move again stops me from getting a real job.

Honestly. It scares me that someone won’t hire me because I’m not in this area forever. After a personal reflection of my resume: lots of experience, lots of internships. When do I get out of the internship lull? When do I trust myself to just apply for jobs that I know I am qualified to do? What do those people need to see in my resume to say “yeah, we should interview this one.”

Me on the job as a newspaper reporter. Photo by Scott Hansen

I went to my first Hiring Our Heroes job fair this week and overall it went well. The fair was aimed at veterans so many recruiters were focused on the needs and skills of those transitioning out of their service branch, but I spoke to about half the employers there and asked about communications positions, most directed me to their website for a full listing, some even suggested other non-obvious departments like Philanthropy.

I have no idea what to do moving forward. I got some good leads at the job fair. But more importantly, I need to figure out what I am looking for. Right now it’s tough because I love being in school full-time but I have a desire to work. Seattle is a great space for digital media but I’m learning that I can’t do work and school, at least not both full-time, and remain sane. And the commute is tough. And maybe I need to apply, talk to recruiters, and see what sounds right for me. But I keep asking myself: what do I want?

MCDM (my Master’s program) offers career counseling classes for current students. I attended one class and our career coach told us to write down what we want, basically a set of career values. That’s the first step. And then it will all start falling into place. But I feel so torn. Do I abandon publications all-together? Do I go the way of an agency? Or corporate communication? What if I don’t know? I guess this is why I took an internship this year, to figure that out. But I still don’t have a clear answer.

Here is what I do know:

  • I love working in web production, alongside content strategy. Basically, I want to help develop and create the content, and put it online.
  • I love social media. I’m on Facebook far too much, and Pinterest more than that. I get the majority of my news via Twitter.
  • I’m a foodie at heart. And not like I need to eat truffled lobster everyday, I just like good food, and cooking, and talking about it. I like trying new restaurants, and yes, indulging in things like truffles and lobsters now and then.
  • I need to either work closer to home (Pierce County would be amazing) or have flexibility to telecommute. Or for the Sounder trains to run for more than 4 hours a day. (Seriously, this blows my mind. I was spoiled by the excellent mass transit in NYC.)
  • I don’t want to start in an entry-level job. I’m not saying that I’m qualified for Senior-level positions, I don’t think I am, but I don’t want to maintain someone else’s calendar or be the go-to copy girl. So one step up from entry-level, seriously I have been working and interning for years, I have done coffee runs. I have paid my dues. I know I’m able to do more.
  • I need to feel trusted and supported in my position. I’ve worked in places where I’ve felt my work was second guessed. And this just leaves me feeling disheartened and not confident. I’m not saying my work was ever perfect, but if it needs edits or a second go, tell me what to fix and give me specifics, and no badgering, let’s have an adult discussion about it.

I know a lot of this is in my head. But I worry. I really do. I think one day I’d like to have a consultant business, but until then, I need the experience. So what’s a girl to do? Guess it’s time to finish my list of must-haves, evaluate my schedule, and network like crazy.

What have you done in a career rut? Any tips?

17 responses to “Stuck in a self-made career rut

  1. You should become a full-time army wife blogger! You know how those mommy blogs got famous? You should try doing that. 😛 Then you could live off the ad revenue and start charging peeps to advertise on your website. Do it!

  2. There was someone on te Fort Lewis Officer Wives page on Facebook looking for someone to work in Tacoma in some sort of Social Media outlet. It was last week, I think, that she was asking. If you’re interested, I’ll see if I can find her/see of she is still looking for sometone.

  3. Hey Jessica — I definitely feel your pain. Have you considered not mentioning the fact that you’re a military spouse in the interview and still go for full-time jobs? IMO, that’s not a piece of information that needs to come out in the interview/application phases. Things change in the business so frequently that it’s not common for people to stay in positions for 1 year or so. Maybe it won’t give you a leg up, but it’ll prevent you from starting in the hole.

    The other option (since you’ve presumably got health benefits through the military) is to explore contract work. I had some pretty good success with that for the past four years, albeit in a different field.

  4. I’ll be joining this club soon. I’m graduating from grad school in May and will be moving to a base for the first time. Even though I’ve been married over a year, I’ve only been to my husband’s base once! My life and career are very “civillian” right now. So though I’m so looking forward to living with my husband, I often worry about the opportunities I’ll be giving up in DC. Especially because I’m switching coasts. Do you use LinkedIn? I’d love to connect to you!

  5. I’m moving to Fort Lewis. I’m definitely looking for “civillian” employment. It’s just tough because of all the connections I’ve made in DC, but I’m hoping those people have connections to someone in the Seattle area. My background is sports medicine, but my graduate degree is business so I am hoping to find something in the gray between those two. Plus, the Mister is not a 20-year guy so there’s a good chance I’m only on base for less than a year when the contract is up. It’s going to be tough taking a job knowing I’ll leave in a year. Sorry for rambling!

    • An early welcome to JBLM!!! There are pro and minor league teams out here as I’m sure you know, so I hope that helps! But yeahhh the timing thing: never a fun one to think about for the career. Good luck! And glad we’re connected on Linkedin too 🙂 If you want to meet up after you move/settle in let me know!

  6. You should definitely look into a social media position. There are a lot of companies desperately in need of someone who is media savvy and the positions tend to be ‘more flexible’ as far as telecommuting due to the nature of the job. You may want to consider, with your journalism background, a career in public relations. You know how editors work, you know how to pitch a story…just an idea.

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