Category Archives: When I grow up, I want to be…

Still trying to figure out my dream job…

At last – a job for love AND money!

After blogging wishful witterings about my job situation in September, my work life has turned round! I was offered a freelance contract until Christmas that was well paid, based at a company I’d worked with before and with people I loved. Just as I was signing up for that, another company got in touch to offer me an interview for a permanent job I had applied for 5 weeks before! It’s amazing what a difference a few days can make…

Fast forward to the end of November and I was once again having a farewell lunch with my work colleagues. They had agreed to release me early from my freelance contract as I’d been offered a permanent role… On 28th November, I started the next phase of my career, possibly in one of my dream jobs; Social Media Community Manager for a large retailer. 

One month on and I’m totally immersed in all things Facebook and Twitter. My friends can’t believe I get paid to be on Facebook all day, and it does sound kind of cool when you say it like that! The actual job reality is far more involved. My days are spent juggling expectations of many different departments who all want to flaunt their wares using these social channels, without understanding that our job is to build conversations within a community, not just flog them stuff!

It’s immersive, intensive and the long hours are ruining my plans to go to the gym after work each night! But I’m loving the challenge and looking forward to 2012 being a whole year of job satisfaction…

Is work about the love or the money?

Freelancing as a career can mess with your mind!

It’s great when work comes in a steady stream – I love meeting new people and being able to slot-in as part of their team, applying my skills to whatever industry they happen to be in (and believe me, these industries can be really random!)

When work slows down – I know all freelancers experience this, but after a short break you start to wonder: Will someone else hire me soon? Am I good at what I do? Should I start applying for permanent jobs?

I’ve had a little quiet time on the work front recently and I’ve thought all of the above. However, I’ve also done a couple of unpaid favours for friends during this time – a CV rewrite, some profiling and blog editing – and it reminds me that I’m good at what I do, so I mustn’t lose heart!

Although I’m freelancing, I’m also on the lookout for my permanent ‘dream job’ – I’m not 100% sure what it is, but I do know it will involve or be inspired by:
Social media
Girlie stuff

An eclectic mix I’m sure you’ll agree, but a spark from one or more of these favourite things will lead me to a brilliant role one of these days!

It’s not just about the money, it’s about the love of the job that’s really important to me…

Is blog honesty the best policy?

Last week, I joined the More To Life Than Shoes website, and after only a few days, got a message from Nadia (our fabulous leader!) She passed on an ad from a company looking for a part-time copywriter / blogger, so I sent an email to investigate…

The initial feedback sounded interesting. The company is based within the film and TV industry, located within a half hour drive and, there is potential for an avalanche of copywriting. The owner is interesting and engaging to talk to, and has seen a spark of potential in me through reading this blog!

I have often wondered if blog honesty is the best policy. I’ve written in detail about the highs and lows of searching for a great copywriting / blogging job, and did wonder if it would ever come back to bite me! My out-of-the-blue email enquiry, backed up by my blog, is either going to fade into nothing or, provide a great step into an interesting new world…

There’s ‘more to life than shoes’ apparently!

As my work life is about to experience a big upheaval, I thought it was time to look out for new potential opportunities. Several months ago, I saw a flyer in my local Starbucks for a women’s group called ‘More To Life Than Shoes‘. I went along to my first meeting a few weeks ago and it was a real mix of women from various backgrounds, at different stages of their lives and careers. 

About 15 of us mingled in small groups, introducing ourselves by name and supplying the small crowd with a quick snapshot of our lives to date.

The main discussion topic was ‘decisions’ – it couldn’t have been more apt for me if I believed in luck / horoscopes / karma etc! We split up into different groups to discuss what influences our decision-making processes, how we prioritise our thinking and the speed involved. Later, we moved into ‘sliding door moments’ when decisions we had or had not made, had shaped our lives in a particular way. This was an easy one for me as I have two:

Randomly choosing Other Half to send an IM to while in an online chatroom
3 1/2 years later, accepting a job that meant moving from the North to the South to be with him.

I can report my life is very happily shaped due to both of those decisions!

There was  also a section called ‘The Buzz’ where you bring along any interesting articles, gadgets, tweets etc to share with the group. Finally, we buddied up and each decided one action we would definitely do over the next month, then made a firm decision to contact your buddy during that time to update them on your progress i.e. this means you actually have to do it!

It was a worthwhile way to spend almost 3 hours on a Tuesday night, and I was really inspired by the amount of women who were taking a risk and making changes to their lives. I felt like I was in good company and plan to have some business cards ready for the next meeting…

Coffee and a slice of advice please…

Girls think too much – fact! However, when two girls get together, all those extra words and thoughts mean you can tackle the biggest problems and come up with amazing solutions!

Last weekend, good friend CB and I met up for Starbucks and a girly chat. Amongst delicious sips of skinny latte, we talked about my current work dilemma – how the ideal job I thought I’d got is anything but – and together, we figured out what the next stage should be in my work/life plan. It’s so good to have someone to talk about it who is removed from my personal situation, but at the same time, has similar experiences herself. CB reiterated many thoughts that had run round my head for the past few weeks and as we parted a couple of hours later, I was buzzing as a result of our chat, rather than the espresso (I’m a one shot wimp!)  

Buoyed by the thought of a light at the end of this work tunnel, a phone call later that night from my parents (who knew nothing of my new plan), simply reconfirmed the decisions I had made earlier that day. You know in your heart and mind when something feels right,  but it doesn’t mean you don’t feel nervous at the same time! Breaking news of the plan to my wonderful Other Half at breakfast the next day was scary – not because I didn’t think he would support me – but because I didn’t want him to think that I had failed. He didn’t, of course, and this attitude is one of hundreds of reasons I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have found him. He simply gave me more words of advice and encouragement and, offered to help me progress the plan using his own area of expertise.

Change is a scary thing; it’s much easier to carry on with the familiar each day, bemoaning the life you feel you are missing out on, but doing nothing about it. Taking a risk takes courage; I’m at a point in my life now where I’m prepared to go all out for what I want to do because YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE! I’m scared and excited and nervous and happy – a combination that keeps adding spice to life…

Is the grass any greener on the new job side?

I’m 5 weeks in to my new job/career as Website Content Exec for 6 fashion brands, so it’s time for the first analysis!

The Good…
Proper salary for the first time in 14 months
People in my department are lovely and friendly
My manager has so much knowledge, she will be a great Yoda to me
We are based near lots of great town centre shops
Sample sales are amazing – any 15 items for £10 (includes all clothing, shoes, accessories, hats, jewellery etc)
Lost 5lbs in a month from new job stress!

The Bad…
Parking costs £4.40 a day
Two lunch breaks a week is the norm
Working alongside 6 different brand teams is a constant ‘challenge’
We ‘finish’ at 5.30pm but that’s just a dream…
Every night I go to bed thinking about what needs to be done the next day
I wake up on a Saturday and Sunday morning thinking about what needs to be done on Monday
I miss my workmates from the exhibition company I temped at 

The Ugly…

The car park has a strange old toothless bloke who takes your money and leers at you, while trying to engage you in pointless conversation 
I have visited the gym 4 times in 4 weeks – it used to be 4 times per week!
I always thought being conscientious was a good thing, until I had a hundred things to think about! Now I don’t know how to turn off at the end of the day…  

I’m no maths whizz, but at this point I’m feeling about 60/40 in favour of the job. Just goes to show, the grass might look greener on the other side but when you get there, it’s actually just a different shade…

Not just a job but an actual career…

It’s happened at last… I’m in the middle of my first week in my new job as a Website Content Co-ordinator for a range of fashion brands!!! See how I learned from the last time when I was offered a job but never got the contract? This time, I thought I’d work there for a few days before I shout it from the rooftops… The wait is over, I’ve found the job I’ve been searching for, for 14 long months.

Don’t get me wrong, when my savings disappeared because I needed to pay the bills and there was no temping work, I felt like crumbling and just applying for any job going. It’s rubbish when everyone else is going on holiday, but because I didn’t have a secure salary coming in, we couldn’t afford to go. BUT, I always knew that if I was patient, believed in my skills and applied for jobs that really interested me, my day would come. I have worked with so many people who hate their jobs, who want to make a change, but 10 years down the line are standing still in the same old job. I made a conscious decision over a year ago not to be that person. 

If you need a little nudge, read my cheesy American magnet quote;

Risk more than others think is safe.
Care more than others think is wise.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.

I bought it a year ago on holiday in Palm Springs because it inspired me, and I just needed a little something to reinforce my own self belief at that time of change. I hope it sparks a little bit of something for you too…

Job patience is my virtue…

After a short blogging break to deal with some important family stuff, I’m back!

Since my last post, I have struck lucky and returned (for the fourth time!) to my favourite temping haunt at the Exhibition Company. Even luckier than that, I’m there ’til Christmas (which means the family is guaranteed a pressie under the tree) AND I’m doing interesting marketing work for a lovely boss too!

On top of all that, I have an interview for a full-time, permanent post as a Content Co-ordinator for a fashion brand – yes I know, excitingly, I have a shot at a genuinely-interesting-job-with-a-future! In the past, people have laughed or thrown me a pitying look when I tell them I’m temping until a job I really want to do comes along. Why is it so naive to believe that your work life can be as enjoyable as your home life?!?

If this year has taught me one thing in particular, it’s to seize opportunities as they come along. That way, you have no regrets and can cherish every brilliant moment you experience. Which was exactly my line of thinking when a small lump sum unexpectedly came my way. It has been sensibly sitting in my savings account as emergency bill money should the temping dry up. Now I’m employed ’til Christmas, it has transformed itself into a wonderful down payment for a Florida villa, for two weeks over my birthday in March… 😮

The fax of life…

Thankfully, I managed to survive my two temping weeks at the law firm (see last blog entry), and Top Dog Solicitor even knew my name by the last day! My new “Tonight Matthew” temping role is that I’m pretending to be… a Data Entry Clerk! It’s just for the week and it’s pretty simple work once you memorise the computer processes needed. My whole day is summed up in this circle of activity;

Print invoices – print checklist – write and print out fax headers – send faxes (around 100 at a time) – staple fax confirmations – enter into computer and repeat!

It’s a bit mind numbing (although I welcome it after the stress fest of the past two weeks!), but it actually makes me appreciate that when I eventually land my dream Copywriter/Web Editor job (wherever that may be!), I will be lucky enough to indulge the creative side of my brain on a daily basis.

And of course the hardest part of working here (get your hankies out folks), is the out-of-town location… The Starbucks staff in town must be wondering what on earth has happened to the one shot skinny latte girl this week!

I’m on the wrong side of the law…

My three-month temping stint at the exhibition company has ended which was really sad; I’d got to know an entire floor of new people and there were 17 of us at my farewell pub lunch (and there were only three people I didn’t actually know there lol!) My agency had a new booking for me a few days later at a small law firm, so my latest “Tonight Matthew” moment is that I’m pretending to be… a Legal Secretary! The agency tells me I will be working alongside one other Proper Legal Secretary.

I arrive on my first day… 

Me: “Hi, I’m filling in as your Legal Secretary.”
Proper Legal Secretary: “Hi, have you done legal before?”
Me: “No, didn’t the agency tell you that?”
Proper Legal Secretary: (face has visibly fallen) “No, we haven’t heard much from them but we thought we were getting an experienced temp.”

Fact – pretending to be a Legal Secretary sucks when the law firm you temp at was expecting a Proper Legal Secretary with experience! I’ve hardly had time to breathe since starting, the audio typing, ringing phone and visiting clients are constant, then throw in the emergency typing that needs to be done before the post goes. You have to know how to apportion fees properly so that people get charged (the maximum possible), and this isn’t obvious to a non-legal temp. There are two Proper Legal Secretaries  on holiday so the one that’s left is trying to pick up all their slack and keep me right. 

 After three stressful days (for both of us), I visited my Agency Lady…
Me: “Agency Lady, I think they were expecting a Proper Legal Secretary to temp for them and if you have one available, I’m quite happy to let them take this on.”
Agency Lady: “No, I never said that, I will ring Proper Legal Secretary and see how you are getting on!”
Agency Lady: “Blah, blah, blah, (because you know what agencies are like!) Biscotti came in because she was a bit worried that she wasn’t being as much help as you needed?”
Proper Legal Secretary: (I’m interpreting what I can’t hear) “Yes it would have been ideal if she had actually had any legal experience but she is doing ok.”
Agency Lady: “Blah, blah, blah well you know it’s really difficult to get actual Proper Legal Secretaries for temping and when you do, they want to charge you a fortune for being there…”
Agency Lady listens to what Proper Legal Secretary is saying and gives me the thumbs up while I’m standing there, wishing the ground would swallow me up.
Agency Lady: “Yes, well she’s a really bright girl so I’m sure she will be fine.” (i.e. “We have no one else to give you!”)
Agency Lady puts the phone down with a smile on her face.
Agency Lady: “Yes everything’s fine, she says you have picked up the computer system quickly so don’t worry!”
Interpretation – “Don’t leave, you are better than nothing!” 

The man I am Secretary for is the Top Dog Solicitor, (who after 4 days, still doesn’t know my name!) He is one of these old, scary, unapproachable, serious, busy type of men, and I feel like a stupid kid whenever I have to speak to him. I get the impression he also thought he was getting a Proper Legal Secretary to cover as he will say, “Do you know how to write a brief?” or “Can you open this in Laserform?” My stock answer is “No, but I’ll ask Proper Legal Secretary!”
Most embarrassingly (so far!), he rang down for me yesterday to ask me to bring up a file I had been working on.
Top Dog Solicitor: “Err, (still can’t remember my name) can you come up and bring the Cool file with you?”
Me: “OK, did you say Cool file?” (I didn’t recognise the name at all)
Top Dog Solicitor: “Yes, the Cool file.”
Me: (panicking as I know I haven’t worked on a file of that name) “Is that spelled C-O-O-L?”
Top Dog Solicitor: ‘Click’ – he had already hung up before I finished spelling out the word.
Straight away the phone rings and as Proper Legal Secretary is tied up on another call, I have to take it and am stuck there for 5 minutes, still wondering what the hell this ‘Cool’ file is.
I grabbed a random pile of files I had been working on and took them upstairs.
Me: “Sorry, I got held up on the telephone. I’m afraid I can’t find the Cool file.”
Top Dog Solicitor: (Looks at me as though I’m stupid) “But you typed this letter to him today?”
He shows me the letter addressed to MR COLE
Me: “Oh, COLE!” (frantically looks through pile I had brought up, and thank heavens, it was there!)  Just when I’d thought that I’d got the knack of understanding the southern accent… (He’s also quite posh so I think that added to my confusion!)

So, I’m eagerly counting down the five days left – I don’t know who will be more relieved when this ends – me or Proper Legal Secretary..!