Me draw pretty one day


Remember that one time I woke up and decided to go to grad school? Well let’s just consider this the sequel.

No, I’m not going back to school for a PH’D, but I AM going back to school – kind of: I decided to self-teach myself graphic design.

What started as a passing thought (so passing that I even Googled “Do you have to know how to draw to be a graphic designer?”) quickly caught my imagination. Originally I had thought about learning how to code and do web design but after talking to the hubby, decided to focus on graphic design. I know it seems like a pretty radical turn but it’s not. I’ve always appreciated good design, especially logos and packaging (as evidenced by my crazy attention to details Christmas gift packages and pretty much every party I’ve hosted and the wedding). As of now, I had been hacking away making magic with nothing more than Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (and borrowed designs) but I don’t want to be a hack anymore. I want to actually know what I’m doing! I used Photoshop to design all the signage and stationery for the wedding and I really enjoyed doing that so much so that I entertained the idea of opening an Etsy shop for invitations and other designs (like only a million other people). Basically, I was officially hooked and it only makes sense to develop the rudimentary skills I do have into something more substantial.

I had been looking around at design courses at some extension programs at Berkeley and SFSU but I just couldn’t stomach the cost of another several thousands dollars on top if my current loans. I even looked into courses at the local junior college but even that came with a hefty price tag. The hubby recommended checking out and I even looked at a few other online design courses before settling on SkillShare. While they both don’t offer a structured graphic design course, SkillShare was a lot more affordable for me ($10/month versus a minimum of $25/month for – more if I want access to the project files that the instructors use).

I’ve been using SkillShare for about a month now and so far I have really enjoyed myself. I’ve completed I’ve learned a few cool tricks already (like  masking layers) and I’m excited to learn more. I do plan on creating a sort of portfolio here to document my progress and give me an opportunity to practice explaining what I’ve done. I’m not the best at explaining things since I’m usually so focused on following the directions that I can’t really explain why I did something outside of “that’s what they told me to do.”  Plus I want to show off my pretty pictures. No lie. So be prepared for the occasional “This is what I did in school today” posts and don’t forget to ooh and ahh.

And if that isn’t enough, I do still plan on learning web design. The hubby found a promotion that got me a free membership to Treehouse for a year so I can start learning how to code as well. I haven’t started those classes yet but when I do, I’ll let you know how those are going as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about SkillShare or just want to try it out for free for a month, sign up through my referral link!

Where I spend my days

Now that I’ve been working for three months (three months!), I’m starting to get a firmer grasp on what I do and have been slowly earning more responsibilities. I even led my first vendor call last week. It definitely didn’t start out smoothly but thankfully it ended well.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering what I do for 9 hours of the day in some office somewhere in the City. I’m in charge of the day-to-day details so my boss can focus on the larger long-term details and new business development. The day-to-day details pretty much involve generating the various client reports we do (monthly and biweekly traffic reports and lead reporting, depending on the client), data analysis, campaign management and optimization, project research, and coordinating with clients and vendors (contracts, tracking codes, content management, you know…stuff). Me and Excel are totally like, BFFs now.

While staying pretty busy for most of the day has been an interesting transition from the previous job, what has really been a big adjustment is my new title of “Social Media Czarina.”

Okay, so maybe I’m the only one who calls me that (silently, in my head) but I have become the go-to person for all things blog, Twitter, and Facebook related. Now, while I was looking for work, I toyed with the idea of going into social media, because I thought, I’m on Twitter and Facebook all day anyway, AND I blog (or did blog with some what more regularity), I can totally do that. No big deal.

Except it is kind of a big deal. People, managing social media is hard. I’m going to let that one sink in.

Here’s the thing: what you would blog about, tweet or post on Facebook from your personal account might not be appropriate or relevant to your job’s social media profiles. My rants about BART? No problem. Expound upon my obsession with Kings Hawaiian rolls? Totally the appropriate from my Twitter account (seriously, have you witnessed the love lately?). But on the company profiles? Not so much. I’m getting the feel for the voice and tone of my company’s social profiles (fun and laid back but still serious), so I’m not as hesitant to post about stuff though I’m sure I’m still missing a lot of potential content. But I’m also learning about a whole new industry, so figuring out what to post, whether on Facebook, Twitter or expand in a blog post, adds another layer of difficulty.

Besides, there’s so much more to managing social media than simply tweeting. I spend my week preparing the social media plan (which includes a quick report from the previous week) for the upcoming week, proposing, researching and writing a blog draft, and comment on other blogs, tweets and Facebook posts. In an attempt to stay current, I’m subscribed to over 50 sources: tech blogs, newspapers, industry blogs and news, marketing blogs in my RSS feed which I scan for content several times a day (I probably spend about 1:30 to 2 hours a day SCANNING my RSS feed only to read a few articles!) and have HootSuite opened all day so I can scan our Twitter feeds for tweets I can respond to or retweet. This is on top of all the other stuff I do during the day. Good thing I have two computer monitors. Yes, I have two.

Let’s just say my time management skills are in need of an overhaul.

Once I get more comfortable and knowledgeable about the industry, I’m sure I’ll be able to come out of my virtual shell and engage a bit more with our clients and other folks online.  Plus, once I figured out how to work in some dedicated time to draft my blog posts (it’ll probably come down to me putting in a calendar item so I’m sure the time is available), perhaps that will help me get back into the writing groove and get some posts written up for here.

So hey, blogging for work just might make me a better personal blogger. Not bad a trade-off.

Love what you’re doing

It’s only been five days but I LOVE MY JOB. Is it weird to be so bold after such a short period of time? It feels weird but not really, if you know what I mean. While I just barely clocked in a full workweek, I am very happy presently. I am excited to wake up and get to work, I’m excited at work, when I’m heading out (not because it’s over, but because I had a great day – yes, it’s sickening), and I’m excited to be able to do it all over again the next day.

I’m so excited that I pick out my clothes the night before.

The first day was a little overwhelming but not in a scary “What am I doing here?” way, but more in an energizing “I can so do this!” way. Every day I learn a new aspect of my job responsibilities, which is almost like unwrapping a present every day, and I’m looking forward to the moment when I’m aware of what I’m supposed to be doing and can just get it done without direction. Sometimes, when I listen to my coworkers talk, I’m amazed at how knowledgeable they are about what we do and I’m kind of jealous that they can so easily explain things, but that’s silly because I know that with enough time, I’ll be able to speak just as soundly as they do.

And you know what? I cannot wait for that moment.

After being out of work for the past two years, I’m very grateful for this opportunity. I was just thinking on Friday how amazing God is. He provided me with the perfect job where I feel satisfied and challenged and one that I can grow into. I definitely risked it by being so picky but I have to say this was definitely worth it (even my Mom had to admit that she was glad I didn’t settle for just anything even though she was pressing me to). I work with a group of amazing people and I know that I can and will make a meaningful contribution. I’m not bored during the day (I’m actually too busy most of the time to even check my Gmail account for most of the day which is so radically different than my last job) and the time just flies by. Seriously, I get in, start my computer up, go through some emails and suddenly it’s an hour later.

What I really like is that I have a defined set of responsibilities and reports to create (I get to create my first one on my own next week. Yes, I am unapologetically excited by this) and none of it feels like “busy work.” I really like coming in every day and knowing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I don’t have to worry about hovering around my boss’ desk sniffing out something, anything, to do. Right now I’m still in the training phase, learning a new piece to my job everyday, but in a short time, most likely starting next week, I’ll be released on my own to assist with client work (which includes billable hours. I’ve never had billable hours before!) creating those lovely reports and doing some data analysis, campaign management, search engine optimization and managing social media profiles.

Yes, I do kind of get paid to tweet and Facebook, granted, not my personal accounts (ironically, I don’t have much time to check my own accounts), but the company’s account. I have an uncanny knack of landing in some pretty cool jobs.

Now if I could only figure out what to say for my company bio.

Working Girl

I have really dropped the ball on writing about my job search escapades. Probably because there really wasn’t much that I could say. My days were filled with networking meetings, trolling job boards, employment agency boards, company boards, Craigslist, everywhere I could think of reading through job posting after job posting and I don’t think there was any way I could make that interesting to read. Can you imagine reading that post? Hey, I applied for another job today. The end. 

Yeah, that would not have been good.

So I spent my days wading through job postings, stressing over making my cover letter as interesting and unique as possible, searching LinkedIn to try to find who would be receiving my application (you know, to personalize my cover letter. Yes, I’m thorough) and logging in my results on my handy dandy worksheet. I was called by an employment agency who raved about my work history and told me how they were looking for more people who had that kind of experience and right as I was about to reach the peak of my excitement, they asked if I was interested in Executive Assistant positions. My entire body deflated in a matter of seconds as I politely declined.

And here’s the thing with that. I know it seems stupid to decline an opportunity to work, especially since I was going on my second year of unemployment and was facing losing my unemployment benefits since I was exhausting them as I crept towards becoming a ‘99er.’ I really wanted to find a job but I wanted it to be the right job, something that would help jumpstart my Marketing career and honestly, an Executive Assistant type position was not going to accomplish that. I have been incredibly blessed to have the luxury to be so picky and yes, I did take advantage of my position but you know, I took a necessary risk.

Looking  for work has not been the easiest thing ever.  I placed a lot of pressure on myself to find a job and I broke from the stress a few times but I knew I couldn’t give up, even when I had several people telling me to just find something, anything to tide me over in the mean time. Part of me didn’t want to give in because I knew I would just stay there and be stuck in a less than ideal situation (it is not easy for me to up and quit jobs) but another part questioned whether this stubbornness was the right way to go.

Competition for work is fierce. I know for two of the jobs I applied to received over 700 applications and the other over 200 before they turned off the posting. Isn’t that crazy? I applied for 122 jobs in the past year, though it’s probably more since I didn’t consistently keep tabs until July when I was required to record my job search efforts, and out of those I only received two interviews. Demoralizing? Yeah, it kind of was, but I had to push past the overwhelming feelings of defeat and inadequacy and remember that it didn’t matter how many times I was turned down, I just needed to find that one person who’d say yes. And you know what? I found the yes!

I’m so excited about my new job. It’s the perfect job to get me started in my career and I get to learn more about Interactive/Online Marketing, which is what I really want to do. It’s the perfect situation for me, since they’ll be training me in online marketing and everything. I can really grow into this position and more. I was so serious about landing this job that when they invited me to the first interview, I spent the weekend cramming for it, reading everything I could about SEO and online marketing (many, many thanks to the bf for helping curate resources to read!) and spent another week cramming for the second interview. I hadn’t studied like that since high school.

Sidebar: Funny thing happened on the way to the second interview. There was a really bad accident on the freeway so it ended up taking an hour and a half to get to the BART station and I was cutting it really close to making it to the interview on time. I ended up running three blocks in heels to get to the office and then had to coax a janitor to let me in since I couldn’t wait for someone to buzz me in. I ended up being a couple of minutes late a little frazzled and noticeably flushed but thankfully I still got the job!

It has been such a relief to finally have a job so I can get on with life and earn a paycheck again. Everything worked out and I thank God that it has. People, I’m going back to work!

And I already know what I’m wearing the first day.

Yeah, I’m a little eager.


The new hustle - Just getting on your radar because I may need something from you soon

Since deciding to undergo a career makeover, if you will, I’ve been facing a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to actually getting people to pay attention to me. Yes I have an MBA but in all actuality, I have very little marketing experience so I couldn’t employ the usual “send out a 100 resumes and hope one bites” approach. Besides, with the amount of people out of work and/or also looking for “green pastures,” there are a lot of people competing for the same job.

Don’t y’all know I have plans for my future?! I need this!

So knowing all of that, I have to get a little more creative. If I learned one thing in my years of working, it’s that who you know is just as important, if not more, than what you know. I used to feel conflicted about this: it didn’t seem fair for someone to get access to a job on account of knowing the right people and not necessarily based upon what they know. However, I’ve come to realize that sometimes knowing the right people helps to open doors to opportunities you might otherwise not have known about. Networking works: it’s how I landed my last gig. Plus, they are an invaluable source for information and career advice. Who better to talk to than people who have done it before?

My old job has been a treasure trove for industry contacts and I have had the opportunity to meet some great individuals that have been really helpful just in the time and advice they’ve given me, often times based solely because someone I knew thought they would be a great person to speak with. I am continually amazed at their generosity considering that they didn’t know me but were happy to carve out some time to meet with me and chat about their careers and introduce me to more people. But I’ve also found that people are willing to chat even if you don’t know them. One of the folks I talked with, a former coworker, was someone I randomly reached out to while I was in college to discuss his job, so talking with him kind of brought us full circle.

I’m feeling really good about my own personal career plans following the networking meetings. I even received some confirmation on what I have been thinking about and am gaining confidence in pulling this whole thing off. Now if I can only settle down and write out my proposal.

On a related note, while skipping through the Internet during some basic social media research, I came across Antonia Harler’s blog post on why she is worth hiring. I thought it was an ingenious idea and I really wish I thought of it myself. Reading through it made me think about my own self-worth [in the working sense] and began to think this would be a great exercise for myself [I did find that I agreed with a few of her statements for myself]. Here are five reasons why I am worth hiring:

  1. I’m willing to learn. I don’t know everything nor do I act like I do. Learning is a lifelong process and everyone has some capacity to learn something new. I’m always interested in developing new tricks. Tell me how I can improve myself. I want to know this! This is why I went back to school and also why I’m now researching more about social media and how to use it within the framework of marketing. Learning doesn’t stop so why should I?
  2. I am comfortable taking risks. Look, I am not a loose cannon by any means but I’m not a stick in the mud either. I know when it’s time to veer off the beaten path and when it’s time to stay on. I took a risk in deciding to attend Michigan [Go Blue!] sight unseen. While most people visit a school before deciding, I first step foot on campus the day I moved into my dorm. And I loved every minute of it, so while I may not always take risks, I always make the ones I do take matter.
  3. I’m optimistic. Sometimes I think I’m a Disney movie come to life [except without the singing. And animals.] but what’s the point of doing anything if you don’t believe it could actually happen? I honestly believe pretty much everything I put my mind to doing is possible and in my experience, it has been. Go to college? Did it. Get a job in the sports industry? Check that one off twice. Go back to school to get my MBA? Done. So what’s keeping me from achieving my next whim? Nothing. Sure there was a lot of background work involved but I gave myself a goal and accomplished it, which is all that matters.
  4. I’m not afraid of failing. Don’t get me wrong: I do not like to fail and try really hard to not fail, but I know if I gave something my very best effort and it was not the success I had hoped it would be, it is not the end of the world. We’re not always going to be successful in every endeavor but knowing that gives me the confidence to give it a shot anyway. It’s not like I have anything to lose. If it doesn’t work, just step back, reevaluate and try again. I do not let the fear of failing keep me from try to accomplish a goal. You really only fail when you don’t try.
  5. I can make you laugh and, most importantly, I can laugh at myself.
  6. There’s nothing more annoying than someone who can’t take a joke. Don’t be that person.

And here’s a free one for you: You need someone to take the lead? I’m your girl. I’m kind of Type-A so I do have the habit of taking on leadership roles but I also relish the opportunity to take ownership of a project. I also am fairly adept at managing and coordinating between different groups of people. After completing scores of group projects in undergraduate and graduate school AND wrangling professionals several years older than myself [with egos to match] I’m pretty comfortable with my leadership style. I have learned that it takes a balance of support, structure and a touch of ego-stroking [where necessary] to engage your team and motivate them to work together.

So there you have it, my five [okay, six – I count like I’m in the Big Ten] reasons why I am worth hiring. So I have a little favor to ask of you: please feel free to tweet, Google+, and pass this post on for me. I really appreciate your help!