Job history: real world edition

laelene Post in general blog,Tags: , , , ,

If you missed the first three parts of this series, you can go read about the jobs I had in high school and the jobs I had during college (while school was in session and when it was summertime).

Communications think tank and consulting firm

In December of 2008, I officially entered “the real world” after finishing my final quarter to earn my double BA in Psychology & Economics. I was still taking time in the new year to ponder my direction when I happened to chat with a friend who thought I should join her in Singapore. She was working for Caelan & Sage, a small communications consulting company, and felt like I would enjoy it there. We arranged a Skype chat with her bosses, the co-founders, and next thing I knew I was flying to Singapore to work for a few months!

sitting at desk laughing

Enjoying one last sit at my C&S desk before leaving.

Out there, the culture was much more different than I had expected. It was neither the Western culture I had grown up in nor the Eastern culture I had been influenced by. While I enjoyed the people I met and worked with, it got to be lonely (especially since Panda was still in LA). Work ranged from meeting with clients to tapping away at proposals. Eventually I fell into a more internal development role, since I was interested in that sort of thing. I’ve always been fascinated by company culture and managing the activities and resources within a business. I got to work building an internal reference database and doing support roles for the projects.

Green conference

Nearly half a year later, it was time to return to the US. My stint in Singapore had been a rich experience but my heart was still stateside. As I was still trying to figure out a direction for a job hunt, Panda and I happened upon a recycling machine at Whole Foods with an ad for a green company. We went online to learn more and somehow stumbled upon the Opportunity Green website. I think being green (or more accurately, resource-conscious) has always been important to me. My parents raised me to not waste water, electricity, and the like. In college, I started to learn about all these green initiatives and it became a growing passion. Opportunity Green seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore the world of green solutions and they were looking for interns, so I immediately applied!

manning press & speaker registration table at opportunity green 2009

I loved interacting with attendees as they arrived for OG 09.

I worked with OG starting in September for a few weeks leading up to the conference that year, then stayed a few more months after. Pre-conference, I managed press and media partnerships, ensuring that we were getting the coverage promised by various media outlets and they were getting the appropriate number of press passes for the event. I helped set up many of these agreements and then managed a spreadsheet listing all the coverage OG was getting, for reference. When it came time for the actual conference, I managed press and speaker registration. I welcomed them all (many of whom I recognized by name from all the correspondence we had done) and ensured they had all the information they needed – press kits and directions to the press room for the media folk and escorts to the speaker lounge for the speakers. Once it was all wrapped up, I followed up with our media partners to get final articles and videos out for the world to read and watch.

Online & affiliate marketing firm

By the end of 2009, my parents were getting anxious that I get a “job” job, so I had to leave OG and focus on my job hunt. I found many exciting opportunities and ultimately ended up taking an offer with WebYes!, LLC. My start date was February 1st and it launched me into quite a learning experience over the course of the next two years! WebYes dealt in many areas, mostly in the online marketing realm. I was brought on to be an affiliate manager, so I was trained to set up offers, both in terms of negotiating agreements with affiliates and uploading the appropriate information to a platform we were using. A few months in, my manager left and I worked directly with the CEO to try to hold things together. I was still very new to all this, so it was definitely a challenge. I didn’t want to run to the CEO every time I had a question, so I had to learn a lot on my own.

centerfield media (formerly webyes) office

There were TVs everywhere with a laidback vibe at Centerfield.

A few months of keeping it together on my own (I basically was my own department at that time), a new manager was brought on to expand our affiliate marketing efforts. In addition, our CEO decided to bring on a co-CEO with expertise in many areas of online marketing. The company was rebranded to become Centerfield Media. We expanded to SEO and SEM, among other things. I finally found myself with someone to work with, and soon the one or two reports I managed grew until much of my day was consumed with reporting. I created spreadsheets to track a ton of performance metrics and others were hired to focus on the sales side of things. My new manager then parted ways with the company and I sort of got absorbed into the team of another manager. The new co-CEO took over the projects that my former manager had been working on and I found myself splitting my time between the new manager and the co-CEO.

The combination of my role evolving away from what I wanted to do, having been in a long-term long-distance relationship with Panda (he moved out east for a job), not seeing as much growth potential for my role anymore, and the hope of a new business opportunity with a business partner led me to decide to leave. Oh yeah, and the horrible commute I endured was wearing down on me too (3 hours a day roundtrip). This was early March 2012 and I felt like I needed to make a change, so I spoke to my new manager. He kind of saw it coming, perhaps because he too recognized that my potential was not being fully utilized. I’ve always wanted to start my own business, and the timing felt right. I finished my last day in late March after training a few coworkers on the work I had been doing.

Soon after I left, they hired a girl to supposedly take over my role but then I got an email from the manager asking me if I knew someone suitable for the position. I had helped the company find a designer over a year earlier, so he thought I might have the right connections for this position too. I reached out to my network and as luck would have it, a really great candidate surfaced. He actually was the one who told me about the demoing opportunity I took a few years back! He eventually was hired to help take over the reporting I was doing and I’m sure much more too.

My own ventures!

sitting at desk working on making origami jewelry

I even tried my hand at making origami jewelry for PandaLoves!

Meanwhile, I was settling into life as a self-employed businesswoman. Over the course of the next year, I would try many things, mostly in the e-commerce realm but also in blogging and social media. The business that I was working on with the coworker had to take a backseat when he began wedding planning, so I began to sell trinkets and beauty products online. I created to sell iPhone cases, since ones I had gotten for myself were getting compliments from strangers. I also opened up for gift items like skincare, jewelry, and trinkets. I sold both through those sites as well as on eBay. It got to the point where I was sending out many packages a week and really getting the hang of things, but I wasn’t sure how to expand my operations. I explored a couple of avenues, but they didn’t end up panning out.

I then thought that since I was selling all these fun little things from Asia, it’d be fun to explore putting together a subscription box of trinkets. Each month, I could send out 3-5 cute items sourced from various Asian countries – the stuff you’d expect to find in the markets and bazaars out there. It would be like getting a piece of those regions for those who couldn’t afford to go themselves. Plus, I could include the back stories of the cultural significance of the item or the life story of the person who made them. I began to put together a Kickstarter, since that’s a great way to get funds and ensure you have an appropriate customer base to start.

New direction

Right around that time, Panda and I started to find some tension in our relationship. I didn’t feel like he was that supportive of my ventures and I was discontent with not being able to spend much time with him. When we finally hashed it out, I came to the conclusion that the most important thing to me right now is being able to settle in with him and the most important thing to him is being able to not have to worry about my career and financial future. So, we agreed that the best thing at this stage would be for me to move out east and find a job. We’d settle out here and I could do some selling on the side. That Kickstarter would be tabled. And that’s where I’m at now! I’m currently interviewing for a position at a company I’m really excited about and I hope I get to join their team! I’m focusing on the new condo we’ll be moving in to at the end of the year and saving up enough money for us to comfortably afford the down payment and get everything else we’re going to need – a car for me to drive to work in, some furniture to fill the condo with, a new laptop for me and maybe him, a pair of sneakers to exercise in, and a few other random purchases I’d like to make.

What has your job history been in the “real” world? Did you switch jobs a lot or stick with the same organization for a long period?

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