What I learned during the interview process

When I was actively searching for jobs, the interview process always freaked me out.

People asking you to basically brag about yourself…it really wasn’t something I was good at. I would prep the night before and then freeze on the phone or worse, in person!

I wanted desperately to be perfect.

Why?

Because I had been so out of practice with interviews. You have to remember, my last job interview was almost seven years ago. A lot had changed and these were for more professional positions…positions that I wanted desperately, but never felt good enough to have.

There’s no doubt that the job search is hard! It’s another full-time job. And honestly, writing cover letters and submitting various versions of my resume was the last thing I wanted to do after working all day. I was so mentally drained when I got home that I could barely muster cohesive thoughts let alone translate them into a Word document.

Nevertheless, the very few (three, in fact) interviews that I had taught me a lot!

  1. I DID NOT want to be in sales
  2. I could use these moments as practice
  3. I needed more skills related to the jobs I was pursuing.

Sales? Practice? Skills? Whaaattt?

Let me explain

I did not want to be in sales

I was once told that I’d be good at sales because I have a great personality. While I appreciated the character compliment, sales just never fit me. A lot of people have great personalities and don’t work in sales, and there’s a reason for that.

For one, being in sales takes a completely different mindset. You have to be good at persuasion, spend time learning product and then translate that into a genuine conversation with a customer. And that’s even more difficult if it’s not what you want to be doing. And sales was something I didn’t want to be doing.

Yeah, but isn’t the money decent?

Sure, but to me, my mental health and sanity far outweighed the money. So this is a great example of how money isn’t everything.

My first two interviews following college were for sales reps positions with AT&T and an office supply company. Now, I’m not knocking people who work in these industries and find fulfillment in it…that’s great! What was most disheartening for me was that these job descriptions and titles were labeled as wanting people who were SPORTS MINDED and MARKETING MINDED.

Perfect! Two of the industries I was trying to pursue, right?!

WRONG! Those titles and job descriptions couldn’t have been further from what I ended up interviewing for…sales.

About 5 minutes into each of these interviews, I quickly realized this and shifted my thinking to using these as practice interviews, paying more attention to how I answered or how I presented myself, rather than focusing on getting the job.

In the end, both companies called back…because, again, I’d be great in sales, remember?

I never returned their phone calls and moved on.

I could use these moments as practice

I kinda explained this above, but I used the very few interviews I had as practice to help get me back in the game. I had done so much and accomplished a lot between the last time I had a job interview until now. So, I was welcoming of all the resources and live action I could get.

With each passing interview, my confidence grew just a little bit more. And I had to keep reminding myself that every bad opportunity was leading me closer to the right one. Little did I know that it was all just a leading me in a direction and desire to pursue freelance writing and work for myself.

I needed more skills related to the jobs I was pursuing

I’ve touched on this topic in a previous post, but I find it so important to my current development that I have to mention it here. By the time I was denied for a job that I truly wanted and would have been great at, I realized that I had to find a way to develop the skills that I wanted. I also hadn’t written anything in a while because I felt so defeated by my failed attempts at finding a job. I didn’t have the motivation to write anything.

In fact, I almost gave it up altogether. But deep down, I knew that I couldn’t just walk away from something that I felt in my heart was right, just to take another corporate or office job that paid better. I’d be giving up on something that hadn’t even started.

So, I set out to gain those skills. And I can honestly say, I feel more fulfilled and like I’m actually gaining skills that are invaluable. I’ve been able to read up on things in my industry and watch 14 minute YouTube training videos.

In the end, the interview process was just another thing that I can reflect on, now. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to keep pursuing your dreams and always remember that eventually, you’ll be right where the universe needs you to be.

It’s a frustrating process. Trust me, I know. But I have found something so rewarding in this endeavor that I feel I can pass these thoughts along to you, hoping you find some encouragement in my struggles.

If I really loved myself, I would…

I came across an old journal entry that didn’t sound much like me, but it was written by me…

I recently cracked open one of the many journals I have stashed around the house (anyone else? no…just me? OK.) And that’s how my journal entry began on March 6, 2019. Following that ope- ended statement is this list:

  • Quit my job
  • workout more and enjoy my birthday (which, base on yesterday’s post, we all know I didn’t.)
  • find what makes me happy
  • try new things
  • challenge myself

What’s crazy, is that I’ve accomplished just about every single one of these things on my list, and that was just a few months ago.

As I sat there staring at the words on the page, they read like someone else. Someone I didn’t recognize. Someone I didn’t want to be. But they were my words, and I can still vividly remember how I felt writing them.

I felt angry. I felt scared. I felt confused. I felt unconfident.

Now? As I sit here and reflect on those words in the journal, I can honestly say that that’s not me anymore. And…if I had to make a new list based on where I am today and the current head space I’m in, it’d probably look something like this:

  • Learn new strategies for client engagement
  • Be booked solid with projects for the rest of the year (6 months or so)
  • Be creative with my approach and my writing
  • Spend more time with family
  • ENJOY THE PROCESS

You see, the air is clearer for me now. I’m finally doing something that makes me really happy! I’m finally taking the time to develop those skills that I’ve always wanted to have, and I’m finally enoying the process.

So, if you’re list looks more like the first one, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate where you’re at. Because trust me, things will get a whole lot more uncomfortable if you don’t, and you’ll end up miserable and defeated.

While I’m far from where I want to be, I recognize that I’m the one in control of that and it’s all about what I put into this. If I half-a** this, then I won’t get much out, but if I continue to learn new skills and practice those skills and then monetize those skills, well then I’ll be unstoppable.

And isn’t that kind of the goal?

But if you’re list looks like the second one…full of ambition and goals and life… Then you’re well on your way to getting to where you want to be in this world.

Isn’t it refreshing?

While I don’t have all the answers for you and I’m not quite sure how to make this work smoothly yet, I will promise you that you’re not alone! It’s easy to feel that way in today’s world, but know that there are others out there just like you. You just have to be willing to find those that encourage you, believe in you and trust you.

That’s when you can take that first list, and turn it into the second list.

 

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27…That was a rough one

Turning 27 was not fun for me, but I’m turning it around for the last 6 months of 2019.

Everyone has their “rough” birthdays, right?

For me, this year’s birthday was rough…to say the least. I wasn’t looking forward to turning another year older and heading further into this next quarter of a century.

really struggled. I didn’t want a celebration. I didn’t want to recognize it. Even a candy bouquet from my grandparents and tacos at one of my favorite Indianapolis restaurants (shout out to Lucianas!) didn’t do the trick.

The truth of it was, I felt embarrassed. I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything in my life up to that point.

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“But, Jen…you completed a MASTERS degree. Most people don’t have that.” 

And you’re right. No one can take my education away from me. No one can take away all the experiences I had working at and covering some of the biggest sporting events in the world. No one.

Yet, something just made me dread this year’s celebration.

Looking back, I can honestly say it was just because I felt stuck.

Anyone else hate feeling stuck?

Stuck at work?

Stuck in life?

just…stuck?

Yeah…same! I hate that feeling! And before I took the dive into freelancing myself, I felt stuck.

I can honestly say that I don’t feel stuck anymore…and 27 isn’t so bad. I mean, I wish I could go back to 25, but that’s beside the point.

Over the last two months, things have really fallen into place. I’m just amazed at how it’s all worked out thus far and I certainly am excited for what’s to come. I’m not saying this has been easy…trust me…there have been lots of tears and fears. But not once have I questioned whether or not this was the right choice for me. Instead, all I can think is: “OK. How am I going to make it?” What can I do today that will get me one step further to where I want to be?”

I finally feel like I have control over my life and where it’s headed. I’m no longer tied to what someone else says I’m worth. I’m not fed lies about how much I’m valued in my position, but not worth the pay. I have say over what I charge now, and it’s all up to clients to see my worth for what it really is.

Truth is, I have a lot to offer. I have great ideas and inspirations, and it’s draining to be told repeatedly that I’m not good enough. When in reality, I’m more than enough and I bring a lot of experiences and ideas to the table.

I know I’m not alone in this and that brings me comfort. My husband reminds me every day that I have people who care in my corner. And now that the haze has lifted and I can see more clearly about who I am (but lowkey still kinda figuring this out) and where I want to be in life, I’m no longer scared of 27.

Other than it being an annoyingly odd number, I’m actually excited about what the last 6 months of 2019 have to bring for me. I’m going to keep chugging along and building every day towards the type of lifestyle I deserve.

And you can, too.

So, here’s to no more rough birthdays and optimism for the future and killing this thing!

My Freelance Journey

“I just have to go for it. If I don’t, I’ll regret it and nothing in my life will change. Big risk, big reward.”

It’s still how I feel to this day. While I’m just a few months into my freelancing journey, I can honestly say that I’m already enjoying life that much more.

I’ve spent the last seven years pursuing my degrees while keeping a full-time job…in an industry that had ZERO to do with my major. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to have steady income while I got my degree, but once I finished my masters, it went downhill…and fast.

I finished my masters degree in sports journalism in the Spring of 2018…so about a year ago. In the months that followed (or really…going back to the Fall semester) I began my job search. I knew that where I worked currently wasn’t really a good fit for me and my goals. The hard part was that I liked the people I worked with and the small business atmosphere wasn’t so bad. But my job gave me such anxiety and took a major toll on my mental health. In fact, things started to get really bad when I began crying at work almost on a daily basis and even traded my desk chair for a bar stool in the middle of the day. By the end of it, it wasn’t a healthy situation for me to be in and I had to get out.

While there were many pivotal moments leading up to my decision to quit my job and dive head first into freelancing, the one shining moment that will forever stand out is when I was turned down for a job at the NCAA. Not because of lack of schooling or training, but lack of years of experience. I just remember hanging up the phone and tears instantly streamed down my face. I couldn’t stop crying…so I sat there for 10 or 15 minutes, cried it out, collected myself and my thoughts and resigned from my position that afternoon.

Taking a leap of faith isn’t easy, but I’ve never done anything risky, so I’m more motivated than ever to make this work.

WHAT A RELIEF!

I’ve never felt so much weight lifted off my shoulders before. Did I have any idea what I was going to do at that moment? No

Did I have clients or know where to find them? Absolutely not.

All I knew was that I wasn’t gaining the skills I wanted or needed for my goals and career path doing mondaine paperwork, day in and day out. That was the moment I knew that if I wanted my life to be different, then I was the only one who was going to change it.

Not my boss.

Not my bosses boss.

Me. And me alone.

So I quit.

And this is where you find me. I’ve been at this for about two months, and while it’s been hard, frustrating and challenging, I still feel more free and alive than I was working for someone else. I love my freedom and having say over my days, and I could see how easy it would be for someone to just get lost in the midst of it all. I’m still figuring it out, but there are three things I’ve learned thus far…

All items pictured are from Target.

1. Routines are key

I’m a routine girl. I didn’t think I would be, but I’ve found that if I’m going to get anything done during the day, I have to be out of bed before 9 a.m., exercised or showered (or both), caffeinated and on my couch (the home office is in the works) and working before noon…otherwise, FORGET IT. I’m useless. I’ve become such a morning person and knowing my peak hours of productivity have really helped me keep a routine. It’s also just good business practices, so if you’re thinking that I’m just enjoying the stay-at-home-housewife life while sleeping in and enjoying the leisure walks with my dog, then you’ve got another thing coming. I’m still busy, probably more busy than when I worked a full-time job. BUT, I’m enjoying every minute of it!

2. Networking is key

Sure, I’ve signed up on every job board imaginable and I still frequent Indeed and UpWork, but in the short amount of time that I’ve been at this, I’ve had more success with landing clients within my network. I am NOT one to ask for help, so stepping up and touching base with people I’ve worked with in the past or have networked with in the past has definitely made me uncomfortable, but it’s worked. I’ve also taken advantage of a connection I made with a recruiter from a financial planning office a few months ago. I reached out to him, just to say thanks for connecting me with people in his office, and that while it didn’t work out for me to come work in his office, I’d love to connect with people in his network to offer the services that I’m offering. He welcomed my message and has made it known that I can reach out at any time. While there are still people that I need to touch base with, I’m finding out that networking is the way to go. I’ve also joined Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups in an effort to connecrt with others like me or people looking for freelancers.

3. Keep it simple, stupid

When I set out on my new journey, I wanted to do it all! I wanted to run social media sites for small businesses. I wanted to blog content every day. I wanted to interview decision makers. I wanted to write web copy. I mean, the opportunities were endless and I have the time. However, I’ve discovered that too many niches make you replaceable. But focusing on a couple and being really good at them makes you valuable. So, I’ve decided to shift my focus away from wanting to do it all (after all, this is my business now, and I can switch it up if I want), to focusing on a couple of ways to earn cash and maintain my new found lifestyle. So, if you’re still with me, and are curious as to what exactly I’m doing, here it is:

I am a freelance write with a concentration in copywriting, content creation/editing and social media.

I can write. I can create catchy social media posts. I can blog. I can edit.

I have learned a lot and will continue to do so for the remainder of my life. I’m just glad that you’ve all chosen to ride on this journey with me as we I go. I’ll be sure to write more tips and advice as I go, but for right now, I’m enjoying this process. I get to be creative, write about whatever I want and have all of you along with me! So thank you!

For this, I am thankful…


Tasked with expressing what I’m thankful for is difficult. What I have’t decided is if the task is difficult because I don’t reflect on this as much as I should, or if I really am getting more jaded with age. Thinking about it, at 25, I shouldn’t be jaded. So I’m going to go with the fact that I don’t reflect on this as much as I should. So, I’m going to take this blog post as an opportunity to reflect on just a few things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for…

My education. This one’s easy. I’m thankful for both the opportunity to go to college and for the smarts go graduate with a bachelors degree and pursue my master’s. I’m not blind to the fact that this opportunity for high education will benefit me and my family in the future, nor am I blind to the fact that not everyone has the smarts to go beyond what they teach you in high school. While I guarantee my mother would have preferred a different profession for me, I couldn’t be more pleased with the education I received while at IUPUI. I have been so blessed with the professors and connection I have made over the last five years. I have fallen in love with the city and with the community IUPUI provides to its students. I have covered more events and have learned so many great “tricks-of-the-trade” if you will. So for this, I am thankful.

I am, also, thankful for…

Sports. Because, well…sports. I love sports. But that’s not why I’m thankful for the activities that enthrall almost every aspect of my life. I’m thankful for the fact that despite the outcomes of presidential elections, despite the economy, despite holidays and family gathers (which totally annoy me), sports will always be there. Sporting events take place throughout the entire world. Without sports, societal changes may never occur. Without sports, entertainment would be limited to what Hollywood can put up on the big screen. Without sports, I wouldn’t be able to pursue a passion and making a living. Sports are the very thing guaranteed to bring people together, despite differences in political views, religion, skin color or anything else that people rely on to divide themselves and their neighbors. So for this, I am, also, thankful.

Lastly, I am thankful for…

My husband, Trent. What kind of thankful blog post would this be if I didn’t mention the one person I love most in this world (sappy, right?)? But seriously, this man is my rock. He not only has supported me through my education, he actually helped me get to the path I’m on with my career. My freshman year of college was challenging as I was struggling with figuring out who I was. Being the natural teacher that he is, he unknowingly (at the time) gave me some great advise about doing something you’re passionate about. It was something one of his professors told him at the time, and it really resonated with me. I still remind him to this day about it. I’m also thankful for him because he loves sports just as much as I do. I know, I know. I scored. Guys totally into sports are so hard to come by these days (wink). But without him to challenge me and answer all my questions when I don’t understand something, I’m not sure where I would be. He knows more about football, I know more about basketball, and we love explaining aspects of the game to each other. We just get each other. So, lastly, for this, I am thankful.