During #PopChat, Brianne Fleming asked an intriguing question: “Have you ever closed a chapter of your career or made a big pivot?”
The question was great, and the answers were even better. You should read the thread.
Many of the responses given had a lot in common: When people closed a chapter, they were often making risky and stressful decisions and finding themselves in tough situations. Think of going freelance, pivoting from B2B to B2C, or discovering who you are as a person.
I tried to answer this question too. I soon realized that I have not closed a chapter. On the contrary: My professional career is an entire book. A book with 3 chapters closed, 1 chapter that is being written, and many chapters to be written.
And maybe your career is like a book as well. A story in which you, the main protagonist, have an end goal, face many struggles along the way, but grow as a person and as a professional.
Let me present my first 4 chapters to you. Maybe we have some experiences in common. And hopefully, you’ll soon realize that a chapter closed, that big pivot you make, is bringing you more good than bad. During each chapter, you’ll find yourself in a new situation, meet new people, learn new things, and develop yourself.
Chapter 1: A short stint
Little prologue— In 2020 I got my Master’s degree and I decided to stop freelancing and start looking for a full-time job.
In September, I got my first job as a Marketing Assistant. During this gig, I learned how working from 9 to 5 and working in a team felt. I was introduced to SEO and Copywriting (and to #MarketingTwitter), I did some influencer management and I wrote my first long-form blogs (which ranked on Google – yay).
Then – plot-twist – January 4th, 2021: laid off, without any good reason. Man, that stung, especially because I generally heard I did good work.. Was all the effort I gave not enough? The notice period was stressful, not pleasant and I was close to burnout.
What I learned? You can work overtime, give 200%, and still get fired. So while you’re part of a company, you should still focus on yourself: your personal growth, your goals and your well-being. Separate professional and private life.
Imposter syndrome introduced itself in Chapter 1, and would play a massive role in my next chapter.
Chapter 2: A jobless networker
Chapter 2 took place from February 2021 till February 2022. It was a period where I applied to many roles, had many interviews, had high hopes and then had my heart broken by another rejection. At some point, I felt like nobody wanted me and that the things I had done weren’t impressive (imposter syndrome told me this!).
During this time, I decided to teach myself the skills I wasn’t taught at uni. Get certificates, read books, and learn from other marketers.
I became massively active on Twitter, went from a lurker to a distributor to a creator. I wrote blogs, newsletters, recaps of seminars and shared them with my audience. I also engaged a lot in the #MarketingTwitter community.
And because of all this, I learned how to write effective short-form content and engaging long-form blogs. I built a strong personal brand and my own portfolio without even realizing it— and without realizing the positive effect of these activities on my future.
I learned that my voice matters and that there are people out here who don’t want to boast but just share value and build meaningful connections. And I learned that it is very helpful to have these people in your life. They share valuable advice and cheer you up when you need it the most.
But how did the rest of Chapter 2 go? Right before the Christmas break I was rejected once again, ‘celebrated’ New Year’s Eve with tears in my eyes because 2021 was not a good year and because I was not positive about 2022.
Then, I decided to do things differently. “f- it and let’s keep applying for interesting job positions even when you are already in some interview rounds. Don’t fixate too much on one or two roles.”
Two weeks later, I had three final rounds, one assignment, and a first interview in one week. Three weeks into January 2022, I found a new job.
Chapter 3: chaotic good
Chapter 3 lasted one year, but I could write 300 pages about it. Getting a new job, moving to a new place, living on your own, exploring a new city and making new friends, traveling a lot and broadening horizons.
For a Dutch brand, I executed the marketing activities in Germany and Scandinavia. The role was both B2B and B2C. I met with stakeholders and I had to hop on phone calls. As result, I learned how important building and managing a good relationship is and how to do this effectively.
I learned that it’s okay to do new things, go to new places, and just take the first step. You should never tell yourself to not do something because of “what if…?” Doing something new is scary and uncomfortable, but it’s the only way you’ll grow (and actually doing these things is often freaking cool, too!).
I was able to use the skills learned during my gap year, so I kept on creating and I published content that ranked high on Google. I also got the chance to organize and execute international campaigns, my first introduction to “managing and organizing.” And I learned to write content in another non-native language: German.
In November 2022, a mix of circumstances made me realize that I couldn’t work for the company much longer, even though we both wanted to continue (long story short: economic insecurity and the ridiculous housing market in the Netherlands). During that moment, I didn’t know what to do anymore.
But soon, everything became clear: it was time to follow my own path and dreams. I wanted to move abroad and work for an international organization. So I decided to use the “take your first step, dive into the unknown and see what happens”-mentality and applied for multiple jobs.
Three months later, I found my current job.
Chapter 4: Get structured
And that’s where I am right now: Chapter 4, two months into my new function as a Social Media Specialist for an international brand, focusing on the Dutch market – with the intention to move abroad.
The exciting part about this job is that we basically started our social media team from scratch. It feels like a start-up environment and this can be a bit chaotic at times. To navigate through that chaos, I realized I needed to organize myself and the environment.
I’m learning how to plan my day more efficiently, I’m using Excel to keep track of projects. My previous employer had clear folder structure, so I decided to follow that structure while organizing data, folders and social media content at my current job.
The previous chapters are helping me as I navigate through Chapter 4. Inspired by the copywriting books and tips suggested by #MarketingTwitter, I’m writing more engaging copy. I also kept training my writing muscle, so that I’m able to turn ideas into content fast. During Chapter 2 and 3, I learned about the value and practices of networking and relationship building, and I’m using this while managing our online community and talking with influencers.
My next chapters
How long Chapter 4 will be? I don’t know. What happens in the next Chapters? I don’t know either. What I know, is that I’ll face more tough situations in the future. But I. the main protagonist, will grow, as I’ve learned from the events experienced and the characters met in the previous characters.
Your life is a book
Maybe, you could consider your professional life as a fiction book as well. A book full of cliff-hangers – tense situations in which you don’t know what’s going to happen and good chapters that are followed by less fortunate events.
But once you go through these chapters of your professional (or personal) life, you can often say you’ve made the right decision (and if not, you’ve learned from a mistake). You’ll experience a new environment and you get to deal with new people, situations and problems. And while you do this, you’ll learn and grow, just like your favourite main protagonist in a fiction book does.
And don’t forget the following: all books have cliff-hangers, tension, situations in which the protagonist is in discomfort, otherwise they would be boring! So if you’re in a stressful situation, don’t forget that 1) it will get better and 2) in most of the cases, the situation will benefit you as a person and professional.