Finance and Career Tips from Someone Who’s Been There
My name is Shannon and I’m a new contributor to Ms. Career Girl. I started off writing my first post about a financial checklist for young professionals but then I realized something. Why should you take my advice if you don’t even know who I am? So today I’m taking a minute to introduce myself so you can understand why I’m writing about personal finance and career tips. (And not to worry, the financial checklist for young professionals is coming soon!)
To start off, I’ll tell you a little bit more about what I’m doing now. I’m the Community Outreach and Customer Support Manager at ReadyForZero, an awesome San Francisco startup that empowers people to get out of debt faster, on their own. While much of my days are spent making sure we’re helping our users in every way we can, I also get to do a lot of writing for our blog. I can honestly say I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my career and – at 29 years old – it was a long road getting to this point.
My First Career Goal
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little kid. When I was young I could always be found with my nose in a book and three more next to me. I was so convinced I’d be a writer someday that I named my dog Murphy Brown, who I considered to be my inspiration. Yep, that Murphy Brown. It’s funny now, but when I was a kid she was one tough cookie in the journalism world (fictional as it may have been). Naturally, I majored in journalism in college but quickly realized I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would have. Against my better judgement (the part that really hoped to get paid to write someday), I switched my major to English literature. I fell so in love with my classes that I didn’t even care how difficult it might be to find a job later. I did manage to land a few internships and work on some really exciting projects…but I was still in for a rude awakening upon graduation.
Post-Graduation Job Search
Nowhere in my Ohio city was there room for inexperienced writers. With multiple large universities around there were more journalism and English majors seeking work than there were job openings. It killed my self-esteem at the time, but looking back it’s no wonder that I couldn’t find a job in my field. I ended up taking a job as a bank teller just so I could get out of my college waitressing job. The pay was terrible but I figured it was at least a chance to get some sort of a career going. Essentially, I took the easy way out and gave up on my dreams. I was convinced that I’d stay only long enough to save up enough money to accomplish my other dream – moving to New York. You see, I thought I needed to have more work experience to get a job in New York and that I would have to stay in Ohio until then. Boy, was I wrong.
Moving to the Big City
A few years later, I finally decided to just take the plunge. I was in a relationship with someone who got a job in New York and wanted me to come – but I didn’t want to move for another six months. I had already planned to go at the start of the next year and was scared to change that plan. Luckily, I was convinced to go early. The relationship didn’t last (which I expected) but it was the right move to make. I moved to New York, landed a job in less than two weeks…and on the first day of my new job the economy as we knew it tanked.
I was lucky. My job was at a stable company which was affected by the crash, but not so much that they had to let me go. Had I stuck to my original plan, who knows if there would have been a job for me in New York. Who knows if I even would have had the guts to move in a down economy. I stayed with that company for 3 ½ years. I still wasn’t getting paid to write, but being in New York gave me the kick I needed to make the writing happen outside of work. I still remember the day I met a friend’s friend who was a literary agent. I asked him for advice on how to finish a book and he said, “Just write, kid. Write for 15 minutes every day. Even if it sucks. Just do it.”
And I did. Now I have one book complete and another book half complete that I will send out for submissions as soon as it’s finished. By doing this, I accomplished one of my greatest dreams. But still, something wasn’t right. As great as my job was, I wanted to do something that gave back to the world and, ideally, allowed me to write.
Finally, It All Comes Together
Enter my next big adventure. My boyfriend (now fiance) and I began talking about moving to San Francisco. I was anxious to try living somewhere else since I had only moved once and he was down for giving it a try. We saved up some money, gave our notice at work, and made the cross-country trek. All I had as a job was a short-term contract with a young startup, but I figured if I could do this once, why couldn’t I do it again? If you go where there is opportunity and apply like crazy, odds are you can find a job. I’d already made a mistake by waiting so long in Ohio so I certainly wasn’t going to do that again.
Well, it wasn’t quite as quick and easy as finding a job in New York was, but it worked out even better than I’d hoped. The whole week-long drive across country I kept saying I wished that ReadyForZero was hiring. I’d been introduced to them by my fiance a year ago and started writing personal finance articles for them on a freelance basis. I already knew I loved their mission and that they were a great team to work with. Lo and behold a month after moving my contract was up, I was looking for work, and they were looking for an intern.
Was I hesitant to take an internship? You bet! At my age and level of experience I wanted a salary, benefits, and the knowledge that my job was a sure thing. But the opportunity was too good to pass up. They were willing to teach me about social media and digital marketing while still letting me write for their blog if I also took on customer service. Seven months later, my internship turned into a full-time job and now I literally have the job of my dreams! Yes, it was a long, hard road. But it has been so worth it to get to this point.
What’s the point of me telling you all this? So I can share with you the things I learned the hard way. So you don’t have to make the mistakes that I made. (Or so you can make mistakes just to learn from them, but at least know what to expect.) Because time, trial, and error have taught me that when you have a dream you have to just go for it. The path to achievement may not be a straight line or a short one. But as long as you keep your eye on the prize and do whatever it takes to make it happen (including leaving home, taking a lower paying job to gain experience, and so on) then you will see your dreams come to fruition.
Image Credit: Advantage Lendl