Mission Accomplished

Well, it took 8 months longer than I had planned, and had some unexpected twists and turns, but I have finally finished my list of 30 ways to broaden my horizons, or as my friend Tara called it, my “20’s Farewell Tour”. I feel that the last thing on my list is the most significant item out of everything on there. That is, changing my attitude and view on my job hunt, which resulted in me finding a full-time job.

I’ve known since I was 6 that I wanted to be a writer. I decided in my senior year of college, 7 years ago, that I wanted to be an Advertising Copywriter. Since then, aside from my two-year stint as a part-time manager at Gap, I’ve been solely focused on getting a job at a creative ad agency.

Because most of my readers are friends who already know my story, I won’t go into all the details of my two experiences with ad school, my back and forth with if I was going anywhere with Gap, or all the feedback I got on my portfolio, but the basic message I’ve been getting since I finished The Book Shop back in December up until July of this year, was to “keep working on my portfolio”. By the end of July, I was- to put it simply- burnt out. I understood the feedback I was getting, and I knew that if I REALLY wanted to, I could get in touch with an Art Director, and keep working on my portfolio. The problem with that was, I didn’t feel the desire to anymore.

So, I was faced with two choices, to keep applying for Copywriting jobs at ad agencies, or to–drum roll please– broaden my horizons and look for jobs that weren’t necessarily “Copywriting” positions, or at creative agencies. It took a lot of soul searching, a few conversations with very supportive friends, and learning that “letting go” of expectations does not mean the same thing as “giving up”, for me to choose the latter.

When I really got to thinking about it, I figured… I’ve been working as a freelance content writer for a company that does social media marketing for the past year. Plus, I’ve had my two personal blogs for almost two years, and at the beginning of this year I was introduced to SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, through my internship. So in other words, I had skills in a lot more areas than JUST “copywriting”.

With that acceptance, I posted my resume on a few job search sites, and started applying for a variety of different positions. One of the most recent positions I applied for was found by chance one day on Craigslist. I am usually skeptical of the ads on this site, only because Craigslist is free to use so anyone can post ads… and I have seen some questionable job posts. This one though described a position that sounded perfect. It was writing content for social media. The person needed to have SEO knowledge, and it was full-time. So, I applied. In addition to applying I did some LinkedIn research (a.k.a social media stalking) and figured out who was in charge of the department I’d be working for, and emailed him with my interest (don’t know if that helped, but it apparently didn’t hurt). I got an interview the next week, on a Thursday, was offered the job on Friday, and started the next Wednesday. It all happened so fast that it felt surreal!

I have to say, I’m incredibly thankful I made the decision to adjust my attitude about my job hunt, and accept that a position at a creative agency just might not be the right fit for me. Maybe it will be someday, but for now I’m happy with where I am at, and I’m really excited to see where it will take me. I’m also not going to take it for granted! I know I’ve been given a great opportunity and I’m going to learn as much as I can fit in my brain about SEO, social media marketing, and insurance (It’s an insurance marketing company). J So stoked to see what’s in store for me.

Happy Reading!

~Jen~

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Student for life

Yipes, I’ve neglected my blogs again. :-/ I always have these random thoughts of “I should write about ‘this’ or ‘that’ in my blog” but then at the end of the day I don’t seem to find the time to sit down and do it. Also, I actually started a post a few weeks ago and forgot to finish it and post it… OOPS. It’s now posted. 😉 Luckily, tonight I am caught up on work (what what!) and I finally feel relaxed enough, yet not too exhausted, to update.

So what have I been up to? I must admit, I’ve been a bit self-absorbed as of lately. I’d like to think it’s in a good way though. I’ve really had a lot to think about since that Portfolio review in May. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had some constructive feedback from a couple of people. One person is an instructor at an ad school down in San Diego. NO, I’m not going to ad school for a third time… haha… they just offer a “branding” class that I was interested in looking into. This instructor was kind enough to sit down with me and talk about my goals, and even gave me pointers on how to improve what’s in my book now. She also said what I’ve been hearing for the last couple of years. That is, agencies today are looking for copywriters who can “do it all”. Sure, they want you to be able to write, but they also want you to be able to design, or at least know the basics of design and art direction, enough to know what can be done and how to do it. The other person I have been consistently getting feedback from is my brother. He is a graphic designer himself, and he’s been trying to encourage me for awhile to take a class in typography and/or design to learn the basics.

I’ve been admittedly hesitant about “going back to school” again, but I have to admit that they both have a point, copywriters need to know the basics of design these days. So… I took a chance and enrolled in a graphic design class at Saddleback College. It’s a 6 week class condensed down from a 16 week class so it’s VERY intense, and I was definitely overwhelmed in the beginning, but now I’m getting the hang of it, and it’s becoming pretty fun. I spent this afternoon and evening working on an “abstract art” piece for my class, that I created by simplifying a picture I found online and cutting out colored paper to create. It’s interesting, when you hear “graphic design” you typically think everything is done on computers, but there is a surprising amount of information to learn before you even touch a computer. We will be using illustrator to do a branding project in the class, but so far it’s been very hands on, artsy projects. I love it! I don’t regret taking this class. It’s keeping me incredibly busy but that is also helping me… okay well FORCING me… to learn how to manage my time better. 🙂

One last thought before I sign off for the night. You are never too old to learn something. Learning is adapting. You can’t move forward in your job or even your life, without adapting to the changes that are taking place. Don’t be scared to take a risk to learn something new. What’s the worse that can happen?

Happy Reading!

~Jen~

When I get to where I’m going.

I’ve had something interesting happening to me in the last couple of weeks. All of the sudden, I’ve had people reaching out to me on LinkedIn, and wanting to connect with me, because they think that having me as a connection will help them get their foot in the door of the ad industry. I’ve had three students whom I’ve never met try to connect with me. I find it quite odd, since I consider myself way on the bottom of the food chain as far as getting a job in the ad industry goes! 😉

This got me thinking though, have I gotten to the point where people are looking to me for guidance? Part of me is terrified by that concept, but another part of me is honored and filled with a sense of confidence. I know that it has taken me a LOT longer than some to figure out what I want out of my life, and I know that most of that is purely because I either haven’t tried hard enough, or lost confidence along the road and fell off track.

Most of the people that read this blog pretty much already know my story, but if you are new to it, here’s a summary:

I didn’t figure out what I wanted to do for a living, be an Advertising Copywriter, until my senior year of college. When I graduated, I was directionless, with no clue of how to get into the ad industry. I applied blindly for jobs, and got a few interviews that never panned out. I was then put in touch with a man who had gone to ad school, and he told me I needed a portfolio of work, which I never knew. So, I flew off to Chicago to attend ad school for a year and build a portfolio. The work I ended up with was mediocre, I know this. But, actually being TOLD this at a portfolio review back in 2009 REALLY discouraged me, and made me feel like I didn’t belong in the industry. Since I had been offered a management position at my retail job around that time, I took it. I was there for two years when I realized I was not happy and I really DID want to get into the ad industry. However, a lot had changed in just a couple years, and my work was outdated. So, I went back to ad school again, this time in L.A. through “The Book Shop”. Fast forward to May 2013. I went to another Portfolio Review. I was again discouraged. I was told that I “wasn’t ready” to be in this industry. Not that I didn’t belong, just that I wasn’t ready. It was a bittersweet comment. On one hand, I still felt that I “belonged” but to be told that I still “wasn’t ready”, after two stints in ad school, was a blow to my ego.

Over the last month I’ve been questioning how I wanted to react to that feedback. Part of me was devastated, and for about a minute (literally, 60 seconds) I did think maybe I had made a mistake leaving retail management. The other part of me was more motivated than ever before, and wanted to do everything in my power to just keep improving. I’ve received constructive feedback from a couple people since the Portfolio review, and I now have a clearer understanding of what I need to do. As for those people who apparently are looking to be for guidance, stay tuned… because I am still learning, still growing, and still making mistakes along the way. I’ll be happy to share what I find out, when I get to where I’m going.

Happy Reading!

~Jen~

Why is everything always so complicated?

I suppose the better question is, why do I make things so complicated? I’ve been known to overanalyze, take statements to0 personally, and worry far too much about what others thing of me. (SSHHH, you don’t have to say DUH so loudly!) I’ve had brutally honest friends tell me this, and I’ve had my Dad tell me this as well (I asked him to be honest… I promise he’s not mean… haha).

Lately, I’ve been on a quest to “find myself”. I feel as though I’ve been on this journey for quite some time though… probably since I left college 7 years ago. I’ve come to realize that the only reason I haven’t quite gotten there yet though, is because of the things I mentioned above. I’ve definitely hindered myself in some ways, due to my lack of self-confidence and also my fear of letting go of what’s comfortable and familiar. The people I love are moving on though, and if I don’t get myself on track, I’m going to be left here alone. I have to stop expecting so much of them. They have their own lives, obstacles, goals and motivations. It’s time for me to accept that I may not be as big of a priority to certain people as I used to be. It’s not a bad thing, really. I’m happy for my friends when I see that they are taking steps towards bettering their lives. I have to assume that if I do the same for myself, they’ll be happy for me too. So, it’s time for me to take action and control my own life. Nobody else is going to do it for me!

 

 

Spontaneity is the spice of life

What?! Did just say that spontaneity is he spice of life?!  😉

As most of my close friends, and even some family members will tell you, I am not a spontaneous, last minute person. I am a planner. I have a reason behind everything and I [over]analyze about every decision I make.

So… when I announced that I was taking a vacation to Portland with no real plans in mind for when I got there… let’s just say some people were shocked. 😉 That being said, I did have a reason I wanted to go there. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to do when I’m done with my portfolio. You know, where I am going to look for a job. I don’t have much of a desire to live or work in L.A. (though there are a couple agencies I’d make an exception for) and there is not much opportunity in Orange County. So, I’ve been thinking more seriously about where I’d be willing to go if I had to go out of state for a job. While Chicago has been at the top of my list since I lived there for my first round of Ad School, it’s very far away… I feel like I would be too far away from my family.

I have friends who have at least visited both Seattle and Portland, and I’ve heard wonderful things about the Pacific Northwest. Honestly, it’s absolutely my kind of weather. I’m one of those weirdos that loves rain! Plus I love actually having weather under 60 degrees for longer than two weeks. So, given that and the fact that I’ve heard of some good ad agencies in Portland (Wieden and Kennedy, anyone?), I decided it was worth checking out. I had just recently paid off my credit card, FINALLY had “disposable” income, and have free time since my job is work from home. So, I figured what the heck, I’ll go!

And you know what? I LOVED it there. I love the weather. Downtown Portland is cool. Definitely smaller than Chicago, but I like it. My favorite part was Powell’s City Bookstore, that covers an entire city block! I could see myself living there, and I’m so glad I visited to find that out. 🙂 I’m also glad I could ‘surprise’ even my closest friends by doing something out of character. BTW, I encourage everyone reading this to take at least one solo trip in their life, especially if you are young and single. It’s refreshing, liberating, and just plain fun.

Happy Reading!

~Jen~

Bunco!

So, after declining an invitation to be a sub for my friend’s bunco game last month, because I thought it would be boring, I decided to join her this month and give it a shot. I was wrong, it was not boring! 🙂 It’s actually pretty fun. It requires no skill, it’s all luck… and I was pretty lucky tonight. I won the most rounds and was part of a three way tie for the most buncos. I ended up winning $20! I met some nice people and just had a good time. I’m glad I went. Plus, when I got home tonight, I discovered I can add it to my list.

🙂

Money may not buy happiness…

… but it does relieve stress, which eventually leads to happiness!

In my last post I mentioned that I was very excited about something I’d be able to add to my list on Feb. 15th (my next paycheck). I’m happy (actually ecstatic) to say that I was able to complete this thing yesterday. 🙂 What is it, you ask? I PAID OFF MY CREDIT CARD! I’d been using it to pay for school, plus had some unexpected purchases over the past year (laptop, iPhone), so I was definitely getting myself in a hole. My goal was to pay my card off by my 30th birthday, and I ALMOST made it, but I hadn’t done my taxes yet and I wanted to make sure I’d have enough. Luckily, thanks to Turbo Tax, I made some deductions I didn’t know I could and didn’t have to pay as much… YAY. I am seriously so relieved. It almost feels surreal that I don’t have any debt. It’s been a LONG time. So yes, that is getting added to my list.

There is one more thing that it is getting added as well… I watched the Super Bowl! Okay so I only watched the second half but the fact that I watched Football, and was actually interested in it (I swear, ask my Dad) says a LOT, for anyone who knows me. 🙂

I definitely had a great weekend. 🙂 I did nothing but RELAX Saturday, did taxes and hung out with my Mom in the evening, then Sunday went on a 7+ mile hike with my hiking group, went to the mall for awhile, and then came home and watched football. That sounds so weird… I came home and watched football. 😉

I have a lot more I want to share in this blog post but I’m beat! I have a busy week ahead but after this weekend I can honestly say I’m ready for it. Bring it on!

Happy Reading!

~Jen~

 

Skydiving and Charmed

So, about 5 months ago I bought my dad a belated 60th birthday present. It was a pass to go “indoor skydiving” which is where you are inside a plexiglass tube and get blown upwards by a giant fan. Indoor skydiving is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since being told I could not fly in small planes because of the pressure combined with my oddly shaped ear canals. NOT that I had any desire to go ACTUAL skydiving, it just bothered me that I was being told I “couldn’t” do something because of something so minuscule, and in doing research, I discovered indoor skydiving. So… my Dad and I both worked up the courage, and took the leap (literally, you kinda jump onto the air). I am so glad that we did it. We both had a great time and it was definitely a fun experience. I don’t know that I will ever do it again because it hurt my arms a bit… haha… but I am glad that I can say that I DID do it.

Another random thing I have always wanted to do is visit the house that was used for outdoor scenes for the T.V. show “Charmed”, which I was addicted to through high school and college. I mentioned to my Dad that it was up near Universal City Walk, which was where we were going for indoor skydiving, and being the AWESOME Dad that he is, he drove us to where it was. I got to take a picture in front of the house and took pictures of other houses that I recognized on the street. It was crazy how different of a neighborhood it was than what was portrayed on TV. Of course, on the show the house is supposed to be in San Francisco, and the actual house is in downtown L.A., so the surrounding area definitely looks different. It felt so surreal to stand in the front yard, where Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and Rose McGowan have stood. Yes, it was years ago, but it was still cool, and an experience I will never forget.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, both of these took place on my birthday. It’s safe to say that my 30th birthday has been the best one yet. I started celebrating by going wine tasting, which was a gift from my awesome friend Kim, for me and our friend April who also had just turned 30. Kim had the idea to dress 80’s style to go to Temecula, just for fun… and it WAS fun. We got some funny looks but more than that, we got compliments. 🙂 I continued the 80’s theme for the next weekend and had a party at my house, complete with 80’s toys used as decorations (thanks to April, who saves everything), bright neon decorative lights, courtesy of Kim, and some ‘tubular’ movie and music posters from the 80’s that I found online. It was an incredibly fun night and I felt truly loved by all my friends who took the time to come celebrate with me. (Thank you friends, you totally rock!). Then of course I finished off the birthday celebrations with the skydiving and Charmed house. 😉 I can honestly say I left the 20’s with a bang. I don’t feel 30 yet though… I guess that’s a good thing!

So now that my fabulous birthday weekend is over, I am finding myself refocusing on my work and my portfolio. I slacked off far too much over the holidays and beyond. I am proud to say that the last two days have been incredibly productive. I haven’t been on Facebook for social purposes, I haven’t gotten up 10 times to play with my dog, and I haven’t wasted time on Words with Friends or wasted time watching T.V. It feels good to have gotten so much done, and to be able to show myself that I am capable of being this productive. I will say that my brain is very tired and I’m already looking forward to the weekend, but I am happy!

With that being said, I think it is time for me to stop typing and go to bed. 😉 I mostly just wanted to share that I am able to add two things to my branching out list, skydiving and visiting the Charmed house! I am extremely excited for something that will be added to the list on February 15th, but you’ll all have to wait eagerly to find out what it is. It’s probably only exciting to me, but that’s okay.

Happy Reading!

~Jen~

“I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am”

Well, here it is… 6 days left until my 30th birthday and still 10 things left on my “30 before 30” list. Oh well, as I said in a previous post, I still plan on branching out and trying new things, it just won’t be before my birthday. Although, I did accidentally add something to my list yesterday.

I was supposed to go on a hike yesterday in Caspers Park, which is off of Ortega. I had looked at Google Maps the day before and saw that it wasn’t that far up Ortega, but I didn’t look at exactly where I would need to turn. So, I went to leave and I put the address in my GPS, and started driving. I failed to notice at the time that I put in an Ortega address in Lake Elsinore, and NOT San Juan Capistrano, where I actually needed to be.

:-/

I drove probably about 3 or 4 miles passed Caspers Park when I realized I had been driving too long, and that I should be there by now. I glanced at my GPS, which I didn’t hear due to me turning the volume down on my phone and up on my radio (GO ME), and realized it said I had 16 miles to go. HA. So, I stopped in a turn out and looked more closely to then realize the whole SJP/ Lake Elsinore mixup. Unfortunately, I am not hugely comfortable with making a u-turn on busy streets ANYway, so Ortega was NOT one I was going to attempt this on. I decided to just keep driving until I saw somewhere I could turn left into, and then turn around and turn right back onto Ortega.

That took me almost that whole 16 miles. :-/ So by the time I got to Caspers park, my group was gone and I missed the opportunity to go for a hike. I was pretty disappointed, and embarrassed/upset with myself. Since I’ve been trying harder to see the bright side of things this past year though, I decided to try to come up with something good that came from it, and I did.

I drove Ortega!!! Something I said I would never do. I’ve been on Ortega (I was actually just on it the day before, as a passenger… which makes the whole situation more embarrassing… but oh well… haha) but I’ve always said I would never actually drive it because it freaked me out too much. Honestly though, it wasn’t that bad. It was a beautiful day, there wasn’t TOO many people on the road. I did turn out once to let some motorcycles and a car pass me but it was nothing major.

So yes, I get to add something to my list. Gotta love unplanned adventures, right? I’ll let you know about my next one.

Happy Reading!

~Jen~

Resolution

Merry Christmas!

Okay so I’m a day late. I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday. I know that I did! I got to spend time with family, and even some old friends, in the form of work. I decided to go back to Gap for the holidays. I was really missing the social aspect of it, both from the friends I’ve made over the years, and the customers. And actually, once I got there, I discovered just how much I really was missing it, so I’ve decided to stay until I find a full time Copywriting job. I’m not leaving my current writing job, which I still love! I just hope to work once a week or every couple weeks at Gap to get OUT. It gets a little boring working from home.

Anyway, I’ve digressed from what I really wanted to write about tonight!

Resolutions. Each year I ask myself “why make a resolution?” Nobody ever keeps them… even if they have the best intentions to do so. I myself am finding that I will be unable to keep my resolution from last year, and that was to do 30 new or “out of my comfort zone” things before I turned 30, which will be in 1 month. I thought it would be easy, but I have been met with challenges for financial, time, or other random reasons (such as my veins being too small to donate blood!) 😉 I still fully intend to get the last 10 numbers on my list filled up, if not in the next few months, then definitely by the time I turn 31!

In the meantime, I am asking myself if I should even try to make a resolution this year. I keep hearing this ad on the radio… it’s for a car (though I forget the make)… that says “this year, make a resolution you will actually WANT to keep”. This brings up a good point. Yeah, sure, a lot of us WANT to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean that we “want” to work for it, so resolving to spend more time at the gym or resolving to follow a certain diet is only going to last for as long as it takes for the excitement to wear off. So, why don’t we resolve to find a way to be happy with who we are, regardless of the size of our bodies? I mean sure, we should definitely make healthy eating decisions and exercise, but why should resolutions be so definitive? I feel like that just makes it harder to attain. Resolutions should be probable, in my opinion.

So what resolution am I making? Well, when I think about what I want… I want a career in Advertising. I want to meet as many people as I can both in the industry and outside of the industry, because I truly believe now that it’s “not what you know, but who you know”. How can I do this? By attending as many networking events as I am able to. I’ve skipped out on a lot of them this past year, due to just pure laziness. I’m done with that. Also, I am going to start hiking regularly with the group I joined awhile back. Regularly might mean once or twice a month, but that’s better than nothing, and it IS definitely attainable. Not only will this help me with my health and fitness goals, but I will be able to reach my other goal of meeting as many people as possible.

So I guess my overall resolution is to take steps every day to ensure that I am working towards what I want for my life. If that’s not clearly defined, it’s okay.