Making the Decision to Move on to a New Career
Or, what I’ve learned since leaving journalism.
Six months ago, I quit my job as a newspaper reporter to work in corporate communications, and just like that, I left behind a big part of how I identify as a person.
With the layoffs and terrible pay that comes with the profession, it isn’t uncommon for reporters — young or old — to leave journalism behind. But honestly, I never thought I would be one of them so soon.
I had so many expectations and dreams and goals about writing and work that it never occurred to me to look outside of journalism — until there were finally too many reasons to not leave. In the more than two years I had been with my last employer, I never saw a path for myself in the newsroom. Maybe I didn’t do enough, or maybe I gave up too early, but I never felt encouraged that I would move up the ladder. Did I mention I received one $60 dollar raise during that whole time?
Going into my new gig in communications (at a finance company of all places), I didn’t know what to expect, or if I would even like the job. Communications is an entirely different animal, but I really do feel like I’m good at what I do. I’m still getting used to all of the approvals for even the smallest projects, and there are a whole new set of personalities and formalities in the corporate world. Deadlines aren’t as hard and fast, but I now see it as a chance to get things right. There’s also way more to think about when you write words when it comes to the marketing side of what you do.
On the money front, I received a significant raise that has gone a long way to relieve some of the financial stress I’ve been dealing with. In the last six months, I’ve paid about $5,000 on my student loans, which is a huge deal for someone who has had to miss payments due to being a broke journalist. I should be able to completely pay off one of my student loans by summer (and the other hopefully by the end of the year). I’ve had money to eat out when I want to, to buy fun makeup products, and to (finally!) save.
But I’ve also been trying to figure out how to move past identifying as a journalist. I’ve changed my Twitter profile bio more times that I can count. Am I writer? A communications specialist (my official title now)? A former journalist? Do these labels even hold meaning now that many writers turn to brand-specific freelance work to make ends meet?
It’s been interesting for me to move past this idea of what should I be doing and where I thought I should end up in life. But it’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be. I’m closer to being debt-free than I ever imagined; I’m saving money; I work close to home; I’m learning new skills and truly enjoy what I do. I don’t work weekends, and I’m never expected to do more and more and more for shitty pay.
It might be too soon to tell, but it feels like the right move.