Currently, I’m in my 8th company in my 8 years of career.
Seems easy for me to do this? Trust me, totally not.
Before you jump into conclusion, no… I didn’t stay 1 year for each company.
Some shorter than 1 year (aha, I hear you), and some longer than that. Most people (and even career or human resource expert often) said that it’s not good to have less than 1-year experience in one place and hop onto another. But I’ll tell you more before you judge.
How Do I Start It All?
Anyway, for you to have better imagination, here’s a brief history of my career before I rule out why (and how I could manage that).
My first job was a language teacher — -not to be counted in my professional resume, though, as the background was not related. Yet, I had a cool routine: my life in the morning would be morning class in college, then I ran to the educational institution where I lasted for one year and a half. Then, I had to quit because I needed to take an internship in industry related to my major, which was a compulsory. Besides, my dream job was journalism. I had to do that.
There, I joined a magazine for 3 months interning, after that they asked me to stay for full time — -my official first job. It went for 8 more months, before I had to quit for research term to finish my final thesis defense in order to graduate.
Just a few days after I submitted my thesis, awaiting for the defense schedule, I started at a new magazine company, bigger and everyone’s work target, where I worked for 2 years.
Then, why do I quit my dream job? Maybe, another post for it.
I switch to Public Relations from Journalism. I started it out at one of the biggest retail property companies in the city. How long? 1 year. Then, another 3 months at a ‘movement’ company, yet somehow no matter how short it was, it successfully gave me quite enough background in tech/startup/creative economy (Google, Techstars, you name it). But 3 months only? One day, I’ll declare. But not now.
Followed by another 2 years in one of world big agencies. Then, a former client, a digital bank, who had asked to join since a year before, re-asked me to join them after a crazy turbulence agency life. I finally agreed. For how long? 2 months!
Two years then two months.
Now I’m in my 5th month in a new multinational startup agency, working on-site in client’s office who treats me and my team as the brand’s own family.
Gosh, turned out that was long! Sorry it wasn’t brief as I promised earlier.
In a nutshell, my experience has broadened from media (which itself contains lifestyle, finance, health, sex, fashion and beauty), retail business, technology, food business, travel industry, banking and government. Now, fashion retail and sport marketing.
Anyway, Was It Easy?
Not. At. All.
Please note if you land to a new job, you have to adapt the new environment, new people, new working method, new culture and plus/minus of the company treatments. Basically, that sums up a total adjustment of your usual daily life.
However, why do I risk it all? Risking the comfort zone for new uncertainty? You might say I’m just being millennial, easily giving up or too fond of adventures and new stuffs. Trust me, you’re not getting closer.
When I put the word ‘risk’ to this sentence above: “why do I risk it all”, I mean it. Sometimes one company has an unprofessional boss, unhealthy work environments or colleagues who are not on par with your pace. But take a look again, in spite of those things that might be inconvenient factors to you, on the other hand, you already know your enemy, you know the politics, you know the game. Moving to another place won’t always solve the problem. How would you know the new place isn’t the same as what you currently have?
With the risk I’ve been taking so far, I now have collected many experiences and opportunities to work with awesome people, in incredible ups-and-downs circumstances. Which, I don’t think I would have had it by now if I didn’t take these daring leaps. Leaving my personal attachment to some people I feel convenience working with and fighting my own fear to move forward into new uncertainty to conquer.
It takes me crying out alone, thinking why can’t I have it all? Why can’t be just as simple as anyone else? Why should I always feel like to have to run fast more than anyone else? Why should I just relax and enjoy the moment without worrying?
It takes me days… questioning my capability to move forward. Whether I can do it, whether I should do it, whether this is the right time to.
Those doubts…. those questions…. though ugly thoughts. I had it all. Anytime I want to make decisions, I always feel not enough, but then I remember to brace and push myself by saying, “I have to try it! I have to make it!”
A Thought That Keeps Pushing Me
And here goes to my longer ‘why’ (like I really need to let out the explanation why to people. But I’m just fed up, so I kind of need to). I realize I just need to stress on my theory which always reminds me to stick to my objective: getting a better version of you everyday.
In this era we’re living, everything is faster. No bullshit. You are demanded to be more than you are right now. More time to put for more work, ability to do more, and simply, just be more than anyone else.
So, for those who used to tell me, “you have to choose one thing to be specialist, not grab all you want to be a generalist. People will get confused to describe or put you in what category,”, well I’m telling you back, “what I believe is right; if I can be expert in many things, why not? Never limit yourself!” Since the beginning, I never enjoy being put in one category. Try to put me in boxes, you’re just wasting your time. I don’t want to, so you’d better not.
The economy isn’t really growing one industry or all. It actually puts many sectors at stake. Big investments go down to startup businesses, yet even pioneering business can disappear very fast as well. Big names can just go down to nothing within a snap. Layoffs and everything. Then, what would make us survive compared to anyone else?
From the objective of mine, I found three things for us to maintain, in order to keep us in the game (hopefully).
Skill | Industry | Network
When I was working in a magazine, it helped me quite a lot. I could do fashion styling, home products styling, even food! I understand basic photography, so I didn’t need to go through all the trouble looking for photographers to accompany me during those reporting days. I did both photo and reportage alone! Networks also helped me to get exclusives and many interesting off-the-record conversations. A year after I left, who would guess… the magazine which was doing very well, suddenly had to close down. Not just one magazine, lots. Including dailies.
The skills I had (which at first might seem that the company had overused you — -do not get confused with overusing you or challenging you with more opportunities — -but you actually thrived on something). On the hand, I also worked part-time with many other industries. Those connections supported me in many ways possible for the next jobs I had after that.
I chose to move to agency, after settling in a simple corporate life. Why? Because I stop learning new skills, I even lost my existing skill as it wasn’t exercised much enough in the job. I start lacking knowledge in many industries, it was the contrary that I love being random and know-it-all kind of girl. I was often considered weird as people found me different and ‘too advance’ — -while I don’t feel like I’m too advance. I always feel I’m lacking so many things.
During the interview of that job, I remember impressed the interviewer because I know industry gossips that came out true. What does it show? I have connections. I had a good network.
Then after first 6 months, I don’t feel like I’m learning new skill, or keeping up with the latest industries or being able to establish a new network or maintaining my exisiting ones. I feel like my world stops spinning.
I quit after a year in total.
Anyway, don’t mean to brag, but during my one year there, you might need to know that I was offered 3 times from 3 different companies. Big companies, bigger salary, higher position. Why didn’t I just take it? Because it wasn’t like what most people think a millennial like me would go for.
I want to learn. I want to be in a place where I would keep learning, keep moving forward, getting stronger in many aspects (not just personality and mentally, but in terms of skills). I actually stayed as I thought there were things left to conquer. Yet I was wrong. Then, I moved after a long self-battle.
If I stay longer in one same place for nothing new for the sake of shaping good image, I would be left behind. Younger people cost less for a company yet they absorb the current new stuffs, trend and technology. They would easily get the chance to play in new fields. If I stay, I won’t be able to chase my goal while running along with the world.
As I said, we have seen so many layoffs as big companies are going down. New companies like startup starts with small team that demands multitasking (even though it’s not good for the brain, experts say) and multi-talented people. If you can only do one thing, how would you excel compared to anyone else? Both being recruited and being keep/promoted is getting competitive more than before.
You need to win the war. Don’t lock yourself in one spot. If you have to run, you run. Fast. You can sacrifice one thing to spare a hundred.
Some people question me, why I moved to another agency after only 2 months in a digital bank I love so much. From client side back to agency life. It was the sacrifice I made. I love it so much that I cried every night just to think about it as I was stressed out. But I rethink again: I have been around tech industry for 2 years. Same skill used, no other business insight to compare, and I met the same people all over again and I rarely meet new people that wow me with newness. Am I bored? Maybe.
It was a goddamn hard decision I made in my entire career. But now I’m happy to move on as I meet new people, learn new industry, exercisng in overcoming new kind of crisis and daily challenges… and I have more time: Me time to recover, exercise, and studying, even meeting up old friends I haven’t seen for so long.
But above all, I’m worried if I don’t expand my skills, my knowledge on other industries and network, it would be harder for me in the next few years.
For example, do you ever hear about business wisdom not to put eggs in one same hole? It’s an advice not to create just multiple the same one business model/products/services/strategy and but instead, to have more varied one. So if one type of business dies, you still have another. The same with skills, industry knowledge and networks. Playing around in one pool won’t drag you out once the water runs dry.
When I was working for a magazine, I wouldn’t have guessed how digital disruption could cause a mess this much. I remember when I was in college, we talk how print survived after radio was invented, and how both radio and print also survived when television arrived in our homes. We didn’t expect this casualty with the internet connected in our devices.
Now media is extremely changing. News is shifting.
Not just media, there are jobs that no longer exists. How would you survive with all this? What if your only skill and knowledge are the next ones to vanish? And you have no more connections who can help you fly away to something new?
Some might say integrity will make you stand out. True. But, if you don’t have anything else, it’s risky. Besides, people don’t really count integrity as most people are still being subjective in assessing others.
What About Me and My Profession?
This era might no longer be same as it was. So the advice to stay longer to conquer the world could be irrelevant.
You would only conquer the world if you know how to survive.
As for my profession, I also realize that it is the challenging situation that actually shapes the whole industry and skill we grab. In my case, the core of Public Relations would be the same, but the more complex the journey is what shapes you to be a better one, as media industry is also having a major shift.
But other than Public Relations, since the beginning of my career, I also have other retainer freelance jobs — -content writer, fringe event coordinator for film festival, editor, copywriter, translator and digital gaming content creator — -which I openly declare to my employers. Not only that you could earn more, but you know how to create more stuffs for your own. Once again, more skill, more industry knowledge and broader network. You don’t lean yourself on to one thing. Nothing is ever certain. Nothing stays the same. It is important to have backups.
Besides, I have this ambition to do something big. A change or something new. I believe in what we do, it must be meaningful. So, work somewhere impactful. Not just to finish a job and that’s it. It will never be enough.
And Please… Stop Assuming, Start Asking Nicely Coz People Have Their Own Reasons
Many people assume or jump to conclusion that I resign because I give up. I don’t.
I prefer to let things that don’t challenge me anymore to go in order to step forward. And I’m not that weak.
If I’d really want to give up, I would have done it on the first day which I didn’t.
This brings me back to remember when I was 21, I met someone 8–10 years older who always saying wise things to me as if I need her life advice. Then, one day she told me, “oh you know, I used to get a job in ‘THAT’ magazine, too, but I resigned after 1 day of work, sending text to the HR that I quit. The people were so unfriendly and cold.” I said to her, “well, that really how it is but I choose to go on. Oh well, anyway I know you better now.”
FYI, I stayed in ‘THAT’ company for two years with all the heartbreaks, harassments and unfair assessments, before I actually landed to another magazine within the same company where I met wonderful boss and loving team whom I’m still in touch with.
So yes, guess… I’m not a loser that gives up easily.
But look again, we have our own priority in life. You know better. I might see a weakness on people who give up, but well, I said to myself again, maybe I don’t know the whole thing. What doesn’t kill me, might kill other people. Vice versa.
If you think it’d better if you stay, pile up your reasons and consider. You know better than anyone else as long you put logic bases for your reasoning.
However, I can conclude that you can’t always be JUST a survivor, without being an achiever too. You shouldn’t. You should be both survivor and achiever. You don’t get both, I think it’s safe for you to re-consider the place you’re sitting in right now.
You know it’s just that it is important for companies and leaders to shift and consider to keep renewing themselves in any way possible to make themselves relevant as a home for us, individuals, to grow and be a player in something right and something big. Not having us stuck in one place for nothing and giving the effect of damaging our creativity and leaving our skills dull while heading to the more competitive future.
Part of me regretted why I waited too long to move forward due to my huge love for the work I’m doing. Trust me, it happened to me a couple times before I decided to leave. Then again, part of me actually was grateful coz fate brought me a nicer journey after a long hard wait. So, yeah… whatever we choose, it might give us something to be grateful in the end, anyway, hopefully.
Yet, I’ve come to learn my lessons to choose wiser.
And yes, I am a survivor of the harsh unhealthy work environment and I’m moving forward, on my way to create another achievement in my life.
But every move, how long or quick, it wasn’t for an escape. I DID leave wonderful places, too, for new things and for being able to do things I can have now.
Moving job isn’t always an escape, but it can be a daring choice. To take a leap or walking the same path all over again.
Moving job isn’t always about giving up. Sometimes, it’s all about our priority.
Originally published at brigida-alexandra.blogspot.com.