For me, a career in marketing always sounded glamorous. I imagined myself in a New York City skyscraper on the 32nd floor at 7p.m. I was sitting in a room full of folks who were all tired, notebooks sprawled across the table, picking at stale Chinese food and desperately trying to outdo the last iconic Nike slogan just minutes before the deadline. Suddenly, I’d have that “ah ha” moment and save the day. However, what I thought and what I got in the world of marketing were two very different things.
My Degree and Me
I found my way into sales at a young age. And while I “lucked” into this high-dollar career field, I wanted more.
In 2004, I finished my marketing degree and was ready to blaze a trail in the wild and woolly world of advertising. After all, I had already proven that I could sell ice to Eskimos. How hard could advertising be?
Shortly after graduation, I was picked up by a prominent technology company and I jumped on the fast track. I helped come up with new marketing material, mission statements, wrote spiel that could make your head spin, helped author internet ads and was a titan in my field. In just two short years, I was overseeing marketing, sales and fulfillment, as manager.
I was elated. I was living the dream. I was making the big bucks. It seemed as if nothing could go wrong.
My Day to Day
I would get to work at 9 in the morning and I would coach, write and manage until 8 p.m. each night. I was scanning ad copies, talking to the sales reps, teaching new marketing materials and running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I was a successful young professional, but that often comes with a price.
My price was having three young children at home who needed me. While it would be easy to say that I walked away from a high-powered, six figure job for them, that’s not the whole truth.
Burn Out and Melt Down
My brain was on its way to a catastrophic meltdown that I didn’t see coming. I was running on fumes and on the cusp of a long undiagnosed mental handicap ready to explode. My disease reared its ugly head and I had a complete breakdown.
Almost overnight, I wasn’t acting like myself, I wasn’t able to function, I was abusing alcohol and after three months and several complaints from employees, I was fired.
At the Worst Time
My firing came in 2007, just as unemployment numbers hit their apex. There wasn’t any more work for me to go into.
When times are tough, some of the first cuts made in any company are in management and then the advertising and marketing departments. Corporations went back to a primary campaign of word of mouth advertising, taking marketing dollars out of marketing companies and leaving me jobless.
Eventually, I quit looking for a marketing gig and took a job with less pay with a local homebuilder. I scrimped and saved and took my time out to make a plan. Instead of waiting for my next big break, I made an opportunity for myself. I invested in two online franchises and embraced entrepreneurship.
As it turns out, my experience in sales, marketing and management wound up culminating into a trifecta of skills that helped me successfully transition from manic marketer to enigmatic entrepreneur. And, frankly, there is no place in the world I’d rather be.
If I had one thing to share with anyone out there who is considering a career in marketing, it would to talk to people who have been there and done that, before signing up for the degree program. You might just find marketing is the job for you, but you might also find that there are greener pastures elsewhere.