I’ve worked in fast-food all my life alongside my schooling. That is up until March of this year when I started my first “real” job. By “real” job I mean a job that requires post-secondary education or an extensive knowledge in a particular subject to attain. I don’t mean that my “real” job made me any more money. It did however give me opportunity to grow in the future. And I don’t mean to degrade jobs that don’t require extensive knowledge in a particular field. The phrase “real” job is simply a personal reflection of my own standard that I’ve pushed onto myself all my life, and have finally succeeded in. It’s my way of taking pride in my education and where I am today. I have total respect for those who work in the fast-food industry as I know, first hand, how challenging it is. But that’s a topic for another post. Let’s stick to how I got to my current job.
Background on my Nature
I’ve always had a high standard for myself to be successful. You can thank my Father for that. He always had a strong work ethic and pushed my sister and I to be the same way. He never wanted us to be lazy and expect things out of life. He wanted us to work hard to achieve our dreams.
My dream was always to work in an office setting doing what I love most, art. I would have daydreams of being surrounded by like-minded creative people and drawing or painting my heart out 8 hours of the day at a sky scraping office building.
I was often told that I was wasting my talents by pursuing art because I could do “so much more” (as if doing what you love isn’t enough). I did pretty well in school. All A’s in all my classes, except gym. I was never a very good athlete. So I guess they were right; I could do anything. I could go to school for 8 more years and become a doctor. I could spend tens of thousands of dollars and be an architect, and the list goes on.
Turns out, you can’t make a very good or reliable living being an artist. But I still didn’t quite know what I wanted to “be when I grew up”. The one thing I knew I wanted was to love my job, and that meant pursuing art. I saw too many people working at a job they hate, just for the money. I didn’t want that for myself. I also knew that I wanted to get my schooling done as fast as possible for many reasons. One, I didn’t have the money to take multiple programs and spend years upon years in different studious programs. Two, I wanted to be able to build my career fast, and that meant find a career as soon as possible, which meant not lollygagging around with unresourceful programs. And three, I wanted to have a family young, but I didn’t want to start a family until I was financially “ready”.
Feeling my Way Through First Year
As I learned in my first year of college, there are many different career paths I could take while exercising my creativity. I enrolled in the one-year Design & Communications Fundamentals Program at Conestoga College to get a feel for different ‘artsy’ career options before I spend all my sanity, educational funds and precious time on one specific field of study. But this didn’t help me at all. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be.
However, I learned many things including:
- I enjoy interior decorating but was unsure on how that could turn into a stable source of income or career path.
- I enjoyed fashion but hated sewing.
- I loved photography but saw this as an on-the-side job in my future.
- I hated architecture because it was too technical.
- I missed math and logic, and I may actually enjoy writing.
- My true passion, however, was still graphic design (an artist with a job title).
My fear was being over-qualified in one specific area and having difficulty securing a full-time job after I finished my studies. So I began thinking back to what my family and friends of the family told me. I could do anything. I could learn about sales and marketing and public relations and all the other not-so-artsy careers. I could do it all.
Plowing Through Second & Third Year
This led me to the two-year Advertising Program at Conestoga College. In this program I got the opportunity to learn the basics of a wide range of careers. From radio advertising, to television advertising, to PR, to copywriting and journalism, to website design, to magazine layout design, to financial planning, and so much more. I felt more confident that by the end of my studies in the Advertising Program, I would have no worries finding a job, as I would be the jack of all artsy trades.
In my final year of the Advertising Program, I solidified a co-op position with the honourary Brendan Waller, who now works at his own entrepreneurial adventure, The DSGN Network. At the time, he worked freelance for Bezier Branding & Design, as well as in-house for Just Fix It. I spent two months learning everything I could from this warm and welcoming, perfectly bound encyclopedia of both business and art, only to find out that there would be no opportunity for full-time employment. It made sense since he was a freelancer and didn’t particularly need full-time help. But I had always dreamed that my co-op position would lead me to career.
Once I finished my program, anxiety set in. I started noticing that many of my classmates had achieved my goal of turning their co-op position into a career. Some had applied for jobs before they even graduated and solidified a career once the Program ended. Others had such a vast knowledge and specific passion that I had no doubt they would be successful finding a job, freelancing, or starting an entrepreneurial endeavor. So where did this leave me?
Anxiety grew as I feared that all my classmates would get hired before me and leave no jobs in the industry for little, shy, me. My professors warned us that if we wanted a job, we would likely have to consider relocating to a more booming area, such as Toronto. I wasn’t willing to do this, for many reasons, but mostly because my family and my life was built was here.
Months went by. I applied for, what felt like hundreds of jobs a day, through multiple online listings. I crafted beautiful resumes specific for each opportunity as well as a carefully written cover letter for each. Sometimes I would even get calls for an interview. Some were in-person, some were over the phone, and some were via Skype. Most of my interviews were for sales jobs that claim to be advertising or marketing, but in actuality, were customer service or commission only sales jobs. Not my thing. The odd time I would get a real interview for a real opportunity. I would work so hard to prepare my brain and my beauty to be the best possible first impression. I would do extensive research on the company in order to impress them with my enthusiasm to be a part of the team. The interviews would go well, but I would never hear from the company after that. I would follow up to make sure they didn’t forget about me, and also to reinforce my withstanding interest in the position. Still nothing.
I started becoming extremely depressed. I had never suffered from depression before so, at the time, I didn’t know I was depressed. It wasn’t until recently that I could look back objectively at everything that I was feeling at the time, and understand that I truly was suffering depression.
I hated myself more and more every day for failing myself at finding a “real” job. I didn’t hate my job at Tim Horton’s so much as I hated the environment. It was extremely unhealthy. I would go to work every day dreading the next verbal harassment I would encounter. The only enjoyable part of my job was the people I got to work with. I would talk with them about my call backs and interviews and share my disappointment with them when I never heard back. They would encourage me that my time would come, I just have to keep applying and staying positive.
At the end of the day, I would come home and argue with my fiance about whatever I could. Our seven-year relationship was pushed to the breaking point only months before our wedding date. I was so unhappy with myself, blindly blaming him for everything, and threatened separation. I wanted to “find myself” because I wasn’t happy.
After ten months of unknowingly battling depression and giving up on job searching, the gates of heaven opened (that is, if I believed heaven existed). I received an email from an opportunity I had an interview for months prior. Collin, my interviewer, asked if I was still interested in the position. I had to read the email over again after rubbing my eyes. It was true! I wasn’t hallucinating! I screamed so loud and jumped up and down but had no one to share the good news with as I was home alone waiting to start my afternoon shift at Tim Horton’s. I, once again, shared my news with my co-workers, hopefully telling them that this might be it! I couldn’t wait for the day to hand in my resignation.
A Glimmer of Hope
I had a second interview with the C.E.O. of the company and scheduled a third interview with the Founder of the company the week after. Both went extremely well, and followed with an email the following week with the job offer. I did it! I got the job! I had worked so hard and had been let down so many times before, that I couldn’t even get myself to believe it. I couldn’t help but feel there was something that would fall through and I wouldn’t end up with the job.
I handed in my resignation at Tim Horton’s. Best feeling in the world. My manager was upset, not because I was leaving, but because she now had to find my replacement. In fact, she didn’t even ask about the opportunity. I was appalled, but it only validated my decision to resign. I had contemplated working part-time on weekends until my three-month probation was finished, just in case, as well to save money for our upcoming wedding. But, I just wanted out. I wanted to be happy, finally.
March 3rd came along; my first day at my “real” job. I signed my contracts for employment, still skeptical that something wouldn’t work out. I worked really hard to prove my ambition for the opportunity and that I was a true asset to the company. My three-month probation came and went. Things started to pick up at work and time flew by. It is now almost 6 months at my first “real” job and I can finally see myself as part of the company’s long-term future. I got my first set of business cards with my married name on them, I was a part of the company photo shoot in which the new photos would be used to freshen up our website and create a bio on the about page for my position, and I was finally creating a working relationship or bond with my co-workers.
Room to Grow
That leads me to where I’m at today. Work has picked up and I’m extremely busy. We’ve tackled a few brand new website launches that take up most of my time. But on top of that, I’m being trusted more and more every day with new responsibilities. I am planning for my future with the company and I look forward to the day we hire a new newbie to take over my position.
My bosses are constantly encouraging me to try new things, take on new responsibilities, widen my knowledge, and get to know the clients. It feels so good to be acknowledged. To be trusted. To be respected. To be wanted. And, to top it all off, each and every 15th and 30th, when my paycheck is hand delivered by the President and Founder of the company, I am verbally thanked for my hard work and dedication in my role within the company. I am appreciated. These are all things I didn’t have at my previous job at Tim Horton’s. I am finally happy.
The Icing on the Cake
To top it all off, my husband and I got married on May 8, of this year (2014). We are officially starting our lives together and planning for our future and our family. I finally have everything I ever dreamed of.