US economy Archive

Guest Post: Changing Careers in an Uncertain Economic Climate: Are you Courageous or just Plain Crazy?

Today’s post is brought to you by Kell’s Think Tank. Kell answered the call from the series I was trying to do about the economic downturn…enjoy and if anyone else wants to submit a guest post, email me at blackgirlinmaine@gmail.com

After 10 years in the telecommunications industry, I decided it was high time to shift gears and pursue the career in communications I had always dreamed of. When I shared this dream with colleagues and friends, many of them were aghast and incredulous. “What if you never find your dream job?”, some asked. “Not everyone is lucky enough to have a fulfilling career, so why do you want to risk it?”, a few folks wondered out loud. “Aren’t you afraid that you may fail?” an old acquaintance asked. Not to be outdone, a dear friend of mine finally asked what everyone else was probably thinking: “Are you crazy?”

 WordNet, defines crazy as brainsick: affected with madness or insanity; “a man who had gone mad”. I knew that my decision to leave the telcom industry, apply to graduate school, and pursue a communications job where I can interact with the media, draft and edit press releases, memos, and articles, build brand awareness, and incorporate social media in traditional environments was a bold and courageous move. But, was I cuckoo? Hardly.

 Sure, I decided to pursue my career goals while America lay in the grasp of soaring unemployment, a mortgage meltdown, and a near financial collapse. But, I don’t think I have gone mad, I think I have tapped into a well of courage, tenacity, and mettle that had been dormant for longer than I care to remember. For me, deciding to pursue a career in communications was a no-brainer. I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Temple University and spent a semester abroad in London, England as a marketing and communications intern at a Top 40 radio station.

I spent the better part of my career in telecom developing and maintaining strategic relationships with customers, writing and editing training materials and procedural documents, and prepared and presented PowerPoint presentations to senior leadership. I chaired monthly brainstorming meetings and managed a $15M annual budget. Telecommunications touches nearly everyone’s lives so what better place to hone my communications skills than a telephone/cell phone/broadband company that consistently ranks in the top 20 of the annual Forbes’ Fortune 500 ranking of America’s largest corporations?

So, armed with a toolbox of transferable communications skills and a wealth of experience, I bid adieu to my telecom tenure and said hello to the next phase of my career. I began my first semester in the Master of Arts in Communication program at The Johns Hopkins University last fall and never looked back. Since then, I have become a blogger, a researcher, and an author of literature reviews on media issues. I have sharpened my critical thinking skills, learned about a variety of research methods, and how to evaluate the work of others.

 As a Johns Hopkins student, I landed an amazing Public Relations internship at an award-winning national newspaper. I drafted and edited press releases and pitched stories to reporters. I supported an amazing team of publicists in developing and implementing special projects and had the opportunity to learn about both internal and external communications being executed in a deadline-driven environment.

 So, while I continue my search for my dream communications job, I continue to do what I have always done quite well: multitask. I enrolled in a Public Relations Writing course where I have weekly writing assignments which will make a great portfolio. I network on LinkedIn and keep my Facebook and Twitter pages up to date because as the saying goes, “Be ready so you don’t have to get ready or people will think you are crazy!”

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Stop playing with us

Am I the only one who hears the news reports about the economy and thinks, quit bullshitting us? Seriously, just this weekend, I was hearing how the “experts” think more people will get out and travel this summer…after all gas prices are cheaper. Gee, its jumped like crazy in the past few weeks to a lovely $2.40 a gallon but hey its not $4 a gallon, so therefore its cheap. Yes, gas is cheaper than it was last year but lets be honest its not like gas is 75 cents a gallon or some ridiculous price. I suspect more people will be on the road but maybe its because after months of living close to the bone, they just feel the need to cut loose for a moment before they go insane. Its the type of logic that a dieter uses after weeks of being good and following the diet and they just need to take a day or two off.

Then there is the report I just read a few minutess ago, that consumer confidence is up, folks are starting to shop more. That might be true but I suspect the fact that good weather is here and again folks are cutting loose for a moment, considering that unemployment is still rising and in some states and cities its already in the double digits, I doubt the recession is over.

On the other hand its easy to spin shit and make us think things are getting better. Funny thing is I know very few people who are not feeling the impact of this economy in one way or the other. I was just having lunch with a fellow non-profit consultant who is thinking of looking for a regular gig since her work load has dropped…I know that feeling all too well as the past 6 months has seen all my work dry up and potential new clients can’t afford my rates which are reasonable.

Too many people are struggling, over the weekend the NY Times reported that the newest wave in foreclosures are not folks who got the the sub-prime create a loan with shaky credit but folks who used to have good credit and jobs. Folks who lost a job and realized they couldn’t find a new one that paid at the rate they used to make, folks who have exhausted all their resources and when it came down to putting food in their bellies, and keepsake the phone and lights on (useful things to have when looking for a gig) versus paying the mortgage and starving, they took option A.

After all it takes quite a while to actually be foreclosed on or evicted from your dwelling so you play that mental fuck fuck game thinking your ship is going to come through soon, only it doesn’t and the next thing you know, you are the face of poverty. The new face of poverty or the working class in America is someone who played by the rules…someone who got that degree, figured they work themselves up from the from being a desk jockey in a cubicle to actually getting an office with a door. Only they changed up the rules and there are a whole lot of Americans with fancy degrees who are feeling they were sold a bum deal.

If I sound a tad bitter today its because in some ways this post is about my life and while thankfully as long as I pay the taxes on my house I will always have a place to rest my head, I know for many others that is not the case. Yet at the same time as I think about my rather large student loan debt and those lovely degrees I possess and how they have not translated to financial stability, I get a tad pissed. Truth is my life in many ways was a lot simpler and stabler when I was a simple working person with no degree. See, I could off less without Sallie Mae wanting her money back. I gotta earn more because I have more expenses and even with bankruptcy Miss Mae still gets her money.

No, I get mad these days when I think of how the powers to be have manipulated us in the past (college as a surefire way to economic stability for one) and continue to manipulate us (things are getting better..oh really? For whom?)

So my mood will pass, it always does but lets be aware of how the powers to be and media try to sucker us with their spin…Happy Tuesday!

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Bonus…I don’t think so

Its no wonder the US economy is all kinds of fucked up. Whatever happened to the days when good old common sense was in abundance? You went to work, did a good job, the company had a good year and then they rewarded the workers with a share of the goodies. See, that’s the way I am used to thinking of bonuses. Of course having spent most of my professional career in the non-profit sector, bonuses are not something I have experienced too often. At best, I am used to a gift card or gift certificate during the holidays as a thank-you for my hard work.

However common sense clearly does not apply to the jokers on Wall Street and in this case the fools at AIG who not only did a lousy job of running their company but did such a bad job, that the greater US economy felt the pain of their stupidity and these clowns needed some tax payer cash to keep the doors open.

Now for the average man or woman on the street when you hit hard times and need some government help to survive, you have to be in bad shape. That means no hidden stash of cash and other goodies, no valuables, you have to be poor in order to get any help from the various entitlement programs. On the other hand when you are a large corporation and you get government aid, well you can live life as usual and that includes your annual bonus.

This weekend the story broke that AIG plans to pay out a chunk of change to the amazing talent at the corporation who helped fuck up not only AIG but the US economy. It seems these jokers have contracts and if they are not paid well they can sue. So we the American taxpayers are being told we will be sporting the costs for rich guys to stay rich while the rest of us plebians get broker. It seems the masses are finally waking up and most of us including yours truly are none to pleased with that idea.

The thing that is bugging me is that the AIG folks keep telling us they have to do this to retain the top talent at the corporation….um, newsflash, these folks weren’t too talented so tell them that the bonus this year is that they still have jobs. Fuck the bonus you idiots you are still employed and still being paid too much. Look, if these bonuses were going to folks like the janitors and secretaries, truthfully I would be less bothered but to reward rich fuck ups is just wrong.

Anyway no one is listening to me since if I was running the show, I’d tell them not only are you not getting a bonus but keep complaining and I will replace your non-performing ass with some cheaper help. There are millions of unemployed Americans many with skills and talents that could almost certainly do a better job at a cheaper price.

So the bailout saga continues, how much more will we pour into a sinking ship?

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