Tuesday, January 26, 2016

switching lanes


I give myself nine months at every new job, the length of time I stayed at my first company. 

I don’t tell myself to quit after nine, but I give myself this mental out in case things don’t work out. I don’t know if it is me too jaded or maybe just being prudent to go in thinking that there will inevitably be parts of the new experience that won't work. And just in case the negatives outweigh the positives, I allow myself to go.

Nine is a meaningful number because that first company was one I had reservations about, but grew to really enjoy and see great potential in. I didn’t quit but had to leave because the company closed.  
 
I was halfhearted the job at first. I wanted to work in advertising but with no experience, no agency was willing to take me. While I got offers from other non-agencies, the only job I was willing to take was at MTV Philippines. It was a short-term contract, the department was PR, and I figured it was still within the marketing communications sphere and it couldn’t hurt to get at least get some job experience. 

I don’t think we practiced PR in any sophisticated way. We would write press releases about new shows and events, and a big part of my scope was printing, packaging and labeling them to go out to our Excel sheet of media contacts every month. Work wasn’t particularly demanding, and I read my first fiction book in four years on the job. I even started to go to the gym almost every day.

It wasn't challening but it was extremely fun, the perfect first job for a fresh graduate. We had events almost every week and part of our work was to manage press at these concerts and parties. I don’t think I did much managing, but I did enjoy the copious amounts of alcohol served. I was also super young and felt cool because we had minor celebrities in our midst and I never got hangovers. 

Halfway through my contract I started calling agencies again. The parties were fantastic but like a real millennial I was worried about career growth. Somehow the digital team found out I was looking for work and invited me to join instead of leaving for an agency. I wasn’t clear on what they did exactly, but I liked the idea. My contract was renewed and converted to the digital team. 

Immediately they tasked me with creating content for our website. I started to take photos and videos at our events and interview the artists that would come to our studio. I started making (passable) webpages that went up on our site using manual WYSIWYG because the CMS was shite. I worked with our marketing and content teams to come up with integrated initiatives - we had the channel, the VJs, local content and the website. We even had media partners for additional amplification. I found myself thinking through-channels with an emphasis of course on digital. I managed our community which was, pre-Facebook, an email fan list. I loved it. It was dynamic and two-way and media-rich. I was sold.

I would have stayed longer, but by some twist of fate MTV decided to close. I was too young and junior to understand why we weren’t profitable enough to renew the license locally. But nine months after starting at a company that I was lukewarm about at first, I left with a strong affinity and a new digital orientation.

I still wanted to get into advertising but I took my digital aspiration with me. As I was looking for a new job the agency I had interned at called. The role was in accounts, which I wasn’t keen on. But it was advertising and I finally had an opening. So I took it. And I told myself to stay for at least nine months, at least as long as MTV, to give it a real shot.

I stayed with that agency for seven years.

Seven years.

I only lasted in accounts for six months, but I asked to take a new task to launch and grow our digital services. I was eventually invited to make the career switch into planning, still with a digital slant. I got to set up my own planning team. If you count my time under the same agency brand, but moving to a different market, I stayed for eight.

Today it doesn’t even seem to be possible to stay at one place for that long. 

In my last two jobs I've only stayed for 12mos+. One that ended because of changes in global alignment, and the next because of value misalignment. 

This week I started yet again at another new place. 
I'm telling myself - nine months.

I've gotten so jaded and my new employers probably don't know that a couple of times each day I've had "fight or flee" moments, when things don't seem like they make sense, or when I'm taken aback by what seem like weird processes.

I'm pre-judging of course, and reminding myself to get a hold on the situation before I make a real call. I'm keeping in mind that nowhere is perfect and that what to keep in mind is potential. Inhale, exhale. 

It has been four days. 

And if I ever stop counting I'll know that I've found a new home. 

I don't know if I'll make it to seven years again, or eight, but not to be counting the days, weeks or months that I've managed not to leave would be a good start.

I'll let you know how I'm feeling in nine months......

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