I got a job! Not just any job but my dream job. The kind of job that makes you want to scream: “Look Mama, I made it!” It has the title I deserve with the salary to match and not to mention, it is in a city I’m finally ready to settle down in. But for someone like me who has taken quite a few turns in her career, this major milestone sometimes seemed like it was a long way off.
A year ago, I was gung-ho about being a full-time entre-prenegro, A.K.A a Black entrepreneur. I felt the disappointment from the traditional work environment and that pushed me to take matters into my own hands. The problem was, my hands were broke. While I had a plan for running my own shop, the lifestyle I was accustomed to living would be a long time coming using the business model I had created. The only cushion I had while making these movements was graduate school, which I’d somehow forgotten was supposed to be my ticket to career elevation. Nonetheless, to make ends meet I picked up a part-time job as a marketing writer. While it didn’t pay much, it kept the lights on and in many ways helped me to stay the course as a marketing and communications professional.
As I worked part-time and grew my small, social impact business, I began to realize what I thought I could financially profit from was simply a catalyst to elevate my passion. So there I was, with flourishing passion-work in one hand and a half-empty career in the other. I realized that, in order to be able to help others I sure as hell needed to be able to help myself. I learned that I wasn’t quite cut out to be the full-time entrepreneur I thought I wanted to be. While I enjoyed the independence of building my own business, truth be told, I missed the steady paycheck. It was a no-brainer; I needed to get a full-time job. But what about all of the hard work I had put in over the last year? Was it all for nothing?
I had not worked so hard to build my personal brand and business to see it all disappear with a new job. So this time when searching for a job I would make sure the job benefited me as much as I would be a benefit to it. And instead of hiding the fact that I have a small business, I made it part of my employment pitch. I used the brand-building, media and marketing successes of my business as selling points for the positions I interviewed for. To my great surprise, the organizations I interviewed with weren’t intimidated by my entrepreneurial spirit, they just wanted to know if I could do the same for them. And when I received the offer from the job I really wanted, I knew I had made the right decision. Winning!
So what does this mean for me now? It means I get to have the best of both worlds. I become the director of marketing and communications for an amazing non-profit but I also get to remain a thought-leader for young Black philanthropy and the owner of a growing social impact organization.
I’ve observed the career paths of many great executives. The ones that stand out to me happen to be the ones who have a strong personal brand and whose companies or organizations recognize the value and support them in that. These individuals are able to not only fulfill their vocation but also become leaders within their industries. One such person that comes to mind is Carla Harris. She has built her personal brand as a motivational speaker, author and leader all the while maintaining a very successful career on Wall Street. It is the blueprint Ms. Harris created and those like hers that have helped me to merge my passion-work and my career.
Had I known a year ago what I know now, I may have simply endeavored to find a better-fitting job rather than leave the workforce altogether, but as we know, hindsight is 20/20. Who knows if I would have been able to grow my brand or be confident enough to take on my new job without that experience.
My career has yet again taken a turn I never expected but this time I can say it’s at least one I can actually see myself holding on to for a while–finally.