I’m currently going through a phase in life where I constantly feel as though I’m on the precipice of a huge change that will forever alter the course of my future. Through rife with the melodrama typical of a 23-year-old, that sentiment does have a bit of truth to it. With every new semester, there always came a new set of classes and a new internship to dramatically change my perception of the future. For instance, after interning in broadcast journalism for six months I very defiantly made the decision to never again work in journalism. At the time, I was in a position to make that choice. After I graduated from college, I faced the fear that whatever my first entry level job was going to be would dictate the rest of my career. After all, how does one acquire the mandatory three to five years of experience unless you’re completely sure of what you want to do from day one?
After careful thought and consideration, I’d decided on a career in fiction publishing. I considered it to be personally, deeply fulfilling as well as a match for my skill set. While undergoing the rigorous job application process, I was met time and time again with utter disappointment. The only things worse than an empty e-mail inbox were the messages that read: “Thank you for your interest, but unfortunately we have chosen not to pursue your candidacy for this position. We will keep your resume on file if a future opportunity that better suits you opens up.” After three months of the rejection game, I grew bitter. My heart turned an ugly shade of black and I found myself spitting at my computer screen, exclaiming things like, “I don’t even need you!” and spilling white wine all over myself.
This was not a good look for me. The conventional job application method was obviously not working and networking made me unbearably uncomfortable. Yet at the same time, I was terrified of the empty space and time associated with unemployment. The new year was quickly approaching and I decided that previously unexplored options might be just what I needed to get myself going. I was hitting a wall in publishing that felt oddly symbolic as opposed to a product of circumstance. A lack of new and inspiring writing also meant a lack of opportunities for capable and confident editors. I couldn’t even get hired for an internship, which made me reassess my thoughts on the entire industry. Maybe publishing really was dying. Or maybe it just didn’t have room for up-and-comers. Either way, I had to make some kind of executive decision. I bit the bullet and signed up with a temp agency, hoping I’d be able to explore a variety of new options until I found the one that felt as right to me as publishing previously had.
My first temp assignment — just a week after I signed up — was as a receptionist at an advertising agency. Everything I knew about advertising had been learned from watching marathons of Mad Men in my basement over winter break. It seemed interesting and exciting, but more focused on scheduling meetings, wining and dining, smoking and generally being more excessive than creative. At my first day on the job, I originally thought my assumptions to be true. My duties included directing calls, greeting guests and making sure the coffee maker was turned off on Friday nights so the place didn’t burn to the ground over the weekend. I felt content that at least I’d be able to write my rent check at the end of the month and that there was a 95% chance it wouldn’t bounce. I wasn’t exactly career-oriented at this point, but more intent on getting by from week to week while I continued to pursue viable options in publishing.
It didn’t take long for the ad world to seep under my skin and open my eyes to the fact that this industry is so much more than just a paycheck or the adultery featured weekly on Mad Men. From my position at the front desk I get to witness Boston’s most creative talents come together to produce amazing campaigns with snappy copy and innovative art. I’ve seen more creativity in two months at the agency than during my entire publishing career. I’d come into the professional advertising world as a temp, but I no longer wanted to leave it that way. I didn’t just want a job in advertising after college — I wanted a career and I wanted it in Boston. I worked diligently at developing relationships with my co-workers, mastering the functions of my position and doing it all with incredible poise and grace. I didn’t have a degree in business, and I’d only taken one marketing course in college, but I soon realized that none of that mattered because I truly was as smart, ambitious and dedicated as I’d always thought. I was soon brought on full-time and given the opportunity to do some copywriting work while simultaneously paying my dues in reception.
I came to learn that the world of advertising offered me more writing and editing options than I’d ever thought possible and made me feel more connected with Boston than my work in publishing ever had. I started noticing commercials and billboards more. Every time I read a sponsored tweet or a blog post, I thought to myself, “Hey I could do that and I want to do that!” My position at reception wasn’t just a foot in the door or a stepping stone. It’s allowed me to work with members of every department on every campaign and truly get a sense of the creative process before embarking on my own creative path. My new job has made Boston feel completely new all over again, even after five years.
While I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for fiction and publishing — they were my original bread and butter — but advertising is going to be my main course. I’m ready to move into a new phase in life, leaving behind ghosts of employments past and enjoying my newfound sense of ambition and possibility. I plan to continue writing and editing, and hopefully transfer those skills to full-time copywriting one day. Right now, I’m just enjoying taking it all in — the artwork, the account management, the pitches, parties and perks. I feel as though I’ve been given the opportunity to dip my hands into so many different creative pools. I don’t feel limited to one path or one career. I could work for the rest of my life at the same agency and fill dozens of different roles. For once in my life I’m excited to be a bit unsure of what tomorrow will bring, because I know that as long as I stay in advertising it will be something fantastic.