For the last several years , I have been trying to figure out what I want to do with this career that I have seemed to stumble into. The short version of the story is I started out with a journalism degree and after being laid off moved into corporate communications. I have primarily done internal communications and all that that implies (change communications, HR communications, executive communications, writing, editing, intranet management, project management, PowerPoint editor, document formatter, webex runner – the list goes on) for the last 14+ years.
In my current position I have stalled a bit. I don’t have a career path and the culture has been downward trending, to put it nicely. In the past, when I needed a promotion or a change, I just got a new job. It wasn’t always a cake walk, but usually didn’t take more than a few months. This time around I have been looking for a new job for more than two years. I have sent my resume to more places than I can count (actually I can count – I have a spreadsheet) and I’ve had several interviews. But I just don’t ever seem to be the person they’re looking for.
It was starting to get me quite depressed. That is until I changed my medication and decided to take a different tactic. A couple of months ago I was ready to quit without even having a new job. I gave myself a deadline of July 31 to come up with a plan of what I was going to do. Initially I told myself that by July 31 I was going to be giving notice come hell or high water. But then a few days went by and I came to terms with some things – mainly, I can’t afford to not have a job. And then I did what I’ve so often done in this situation, nothing. I let another week go by just existing and focusing on other things.
A quick conversation with my psychiatrist reminded me that ignoring it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. What if what I needed was a big change? Not just another corporate internal communications job. So I wrote some emails to friends asking for feedback. I started looking at freelancing and contract positions. I started thinking outside sitting at this desk. I spoke to some people who offered different perspectives.
And what I realized is what deep down I’ve probably known all along. This isn’t my dream job. If I could do anything, I’d be a talented writer who has the means to pump out witty prose and read as many books as I want to without having to worry about paying the bills. But, at the same time, I know that there are aspects of internal communications that I really like. I like being able to help people. I like learning new things. I like feeling people benefit from something I produced.
The problem is, right now, in the environment I am in, none of those things are happening. I don’t like helping people here as it doesn’t seem to make an impact. I haven’t really learned anything new lately because what’s the point. And I don’t feel like anyone benefits from my work because I’m not given the chance to create something useful. And because of these and other reasons, I’m not out there advocating for myself to change the way we communicate within the organization.
I have seen the enemy, and it is myself.
I am now on this road to getting back the joy that I once found in this job. I am working to learn the new things that will make me productive, that will help me craft communications I can be proud of and will create value in the workplace. This is one of my first steps.