Career Narrative: Food Service to Content Marketing


Early in 2015, as I drove to the first day of my new job, I found myself getting off the highway an exit early so that I could drive through the neighborhood I grew up in. Soon, tears of joy were streaming down my face. The crisp winter air cooled my flushed cheeks as I stepped up to the building where I now work. As I walked in, I felt for the first time like I had arrived, and that my future was worth looking forward to.

 

Jason Flamm

My name is Jason Flamm. I grew up poor. I grew up in a family that has spent their entire lives in the food and retail business. My father went to prison when I was 13 and my mother worked multiple jobs just to scrape by. By age 25, I had already worked more than 20 different jobs. I was the first and only person in my family to graduate high school and (eventually) get a college degree. I was 31 when I finally got my Associate’s Degree. I’m currently 33 and I’m still working on my Bachelor’s. Everything I’ve tried to accomplish in life, has felt like a never ending uphill battle. Without a network of people, without marketable skills, and without a good example of what success looks like, I’ve sometimes felt like giving up completely.

The year I turned 30, I decided to take hold and change my entire life. But, that didn’t mean the universe was going to make it easier for me.

I quit my job. I ended an unhealthy relationship. I went back to school. I lost over 140 lbs. I focused on doing things that would add value to myself, others and someday the world. While I worked on getting my education, I started a side project that wound up helping me change my life. I started STL SketchPAD, a monthly sketch comedy show. I had no idea where it would lead me and who it would have an effect on. Writing and performing comedy was just something I loved to do and, thankfully, I’m too insecure to try to do things all by myself. So, I invited a group of people to team up with me.

Each month I invite new people to join my team and, for some reason, they keep showing up. I purposely changed the circle of friends that I was a part of. I wanted to collaborate and work with people who were like minded and who were trying to do something special. I found myself surrounded by people who had the kind of careers that I had hoped to have someday. Those people began to help me, coach me and encourage me to start applying to better jobs. Jobs where you don’t end up with trash can water on your face and shirt (worst thing ever).

sketchpad round table

Eventually, I went back to the food and retail industry. I worked at Starbucks for a year and a half and even back at Dominos for another stint. But, while doing so, I applied to different places, rewrote my resume over and over again and hoped that someday I wouldn’t have to deliver pizzas or make other people’s coffee to earn a living. Then, finally it happened; I got a new job. I started a career at a marketing agency downtown. It’s the best work environment I’ve ever been in. I have complete autonomy and my employers trust me to do my job well. In the world of fast food and retail, you have a supervisor over your shoulder telling you “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” You have to work holidays and not see your family, because “not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving with turkey and stuffing.” And you have to bail on your friends on Saturday night because weekends are “when you make your money.” For some, working food and retail is perfectly fine. A job is a job. But, for me, I never wanted the same life my parents, aunts, uncles and everyone else around me had. I wanted, and will always want, more.

I had to work hard to get here. I had to take a side path. I had to find creative ways to add skills to my resume that a potential employer might actually find useful. Believe it or not, “worked at Domino’s Pizza for six years”, isn’t that eye catching to most employers.

Things that were impressive:

  • Blogging for over 10 years
  • Foster a community of creative people
  • Reading behavioral psychology books (for fun)
  • Teaching myself email marketing & SEO
  • Showing lots of writing examples
  • Being endorsed by someone who works here

Without creating and doing those things on the side, I believe I would still be stuck in an occupation that led me to depression, weight gain and at times, hopelessness.

You may not have the same life experiences I’ve had. You may not want the same future I want. The point of this article is to encourage you, if you are trying to make a change or land a job you’ll love, to continue working your butt off (even if only on the side) on the things you love to do. Get really freaking good at them. Then share those things with the people around you. Let others feel your passion and share in your successes.

Sketchpad show

Through that, I fully believe that dreams can come true and goals can be reached. I’ve seen it firsthand. When it happens for you, I hope you’ll take a moment to take it all in and then inspire other people to do the same. Also, if you ever want to write comedy, I know a great group of people who would love to help you.

Keep creating. Keep writing.

Who knows where it might take you?

 

Jason Flamm is the creator and producer for STL SketchPAD. He has helped over 50 writers and performers produce comedy (many for the first time) while putting on dozens of shows since 2011. If you’re interested in learning more about STL SketchPAD or what Jason is doing, subscribe to his mailing list. He’d love to meet you and learn how he can serve you. You can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/bfLy3v you can also find him on Twitter @STLSketchPAD or on the web at http://stlsketchpad.com

3 Ways To Discover A Job You’ll Love

3 Ways to Discover a Job You’ll Love

hand in space

Thanks to UltimateHero0406 for the visual and story. 

Sometimes we get stuck in our career path when aren’t sure how our interests can become a job or when we’ve lost sight of what we are actually interested in. There are a variety of ways to rediscover your mojo.

This post is a list of strategies to help you answer “What makes you tick?”

Take a look through the 3 strategies listed below. Spend time on the ones that captivate you and leave the rest. TL;DR (too long;didn’t read) located at the bottom of the page.

  1.          Write & Reflect through a Career Narrative

  2.           Interest Assessments

  3.           Try Something New

…great, more info please!

1. Career Narrative

If you enjoy storytelling this may be just the tactic for you. The goal is to tell a piece of your story. You will analyze and discuss the influential times in your life that have led you in your career path thus far. You will write a story of your past and present experiences to help conceptualize your journey towards a career.

Here’s how to do it:

Write your career narrative:

  1. Self-Understanding- Ask yourself why and how you’ve made particular career decisions. Contemplate on the experiences you’ve had, the beliefs you hold, and your values. What past experiences and guiding principles led you to where you are now?
  2. Showcasing Yourself-  Telling your story and marketing your skills is vital to understanding your story better AND helps you get the job you want. Employers look for people who are able to tell their story well.

Ok, that’s your outline – now go write your story. 1-2 pages double spaced.

nancy_drew_navy_silhouette_calendar_print
Credit: media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

2. Interest Assessment

You know how you feel and what you are interested in better than anyone else in the world. Interest assessments can help you better articulate your interests (which helps you tell your story better), and helps you identify jobs that fit your interests more quickly. I recommend taking the RIASEC assessment which is based off of the Holland Theory. Briefly, Holland Theory gives us 6 terms generated from exhibited traits and behaviors to provide insight into what makes a career satisfying for an individual. The 6 traits are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Your Holland Code is made up of your 3 highest scores and can help you in your job search.

            Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take an assessment. Go to http://www.self-directed-search.com/ to pay $10 for the trademark John Holland Self-Directed Search Assessment, or use a free assessment like this one: http://personality-testing.info/tests/RIASEC.php.
  2. Get your 3 letter code. Learn more about the 6 terms here: https://www.onetonline.org/find/descriptor/browse/Interests/
  3. Search job descriptions. Plug your individualized code into the yellow box at the top. https://www.onetonline.org/explore/interests/Realistic/. Get an idea of what jobs exist that fit your code.
SIA example
Screen grab from O*Net

3. Try New Things

This is pretty self-explanatory. It is the quickest way to discover what you enjoy and can be the easiest to push off. Sometimes putting yourself out there to try new activities can be scary. Bribe a friend to go with you if you need to, but get yourself out there trying new things.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Job Shadowing- Think you might like a job? Find someone who has that job and politely ask if you could schedule a time to watch them do what they do best.
  2. Volunteer- There are volunteer opportunities for every job task and across all industries. Open your mind to all possibilities.
  3. Intern– This usually requires a longer commitment but can be a great way to get experience and network.
  4. Join clubs, pick up a hobby, DO WHAT SOUNDS FUN- If you think something sounds like a lot of fun and have an urge to do it but dismiss the idea for any reason, you’re doing it wrong. For example, not taking an improv class because you don’t want to be an actress and move to LA. There are so many benefits to taking a class or joining a club.
    • Joining a community of people using their curiosity and who are willing to try new things will ignite your progress immensely.
    • Building a new skill (whether you think it’s practical or not) will create opportunity for you in ways you could not predict.
Photo Credit: John Langen

TL:DR

The better you know yourself the more capable you are of making decisions more quickly and with better results. Reflect on what you know about yourself and if you get stuck there – it’s time to try out new things.

Work Theory is a blog designed around the idea that humans should have access to jobs that they enjoy and can make a living doing. The Dream Job series gives us a glimpse into the lives of people who have managed to achieve consistent satisfaction and happiness in their career. The jobs they work are as diverse as the lives led by these individuals. “Like” Work Theory on Facebook to remain a part of the story.

If you, or someone you know is living their dream job and are interested in being interviewed, please contact Annie here.

Values in Job Search

VALUES

“What’s in a name?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet were talking about value. What’s the value of a name? Of a rose? Values are important, especially in…you guessed it…job satisfaction. This post talks about identifying values in your job search so you can find the Romeo or Juliet of your career.

rose by any other name

First off, let’s talk about what VALUES are in relation to work. Values are the part of a job that a person gives priority to or believes has worth.

Here are some ideas of what you may find valuable in a job:

                                                         -High Wages                  -Easy Commute

                                                        -Time Flexibility           -Onsite Childcare

                                                         -Travel                             -Company Car

                                                         -High Status                 -Meaningful/Altruistic Work

                                                         -Diversity                       -401 K & Benefits

                                                         -Big Bonuses                -Time Off

                                                          -Fame                           -Job Security

                                                         -Autonomy                 -Compatibility with Co-workers

These are just a few examples. Now pretend you had $5000 to bid at an auction on these values against 20 other people.

What values would you bid the highest for?

       This should give you an idea of your top values.

Would it be great to have a big salary, time off, and job security? Sure, sounds good to me and it’s not impossible to achieve. However, we must understand that all choices come with costs.  Are you willing to go to school for 8 years? Are you willing to work 80 hours a week? Are you willing to work for lower wages or for free? These are just some of the questions we might ask ourselves when evaluating the pros and cons of a job we are, or are not, willing to take.

Fortunately job searching is complex and we don’t pick our jobs alone on our values. We have the opportunity to weigh our values, our interests (what we like), and our skills (what we are good at) against the field, role, and work environment of our dream job.

role field environment

Field describes the overview of the industry you work in, such as healthcare.

Role is the specific function or behavior you perform at work, such as a Registered Nurse.

Work Environment describes the work setting, compatibility with co-workers, benefits, location, and anything you would consider a value when making a career decision.

Values are correlated with work environment which is great news. It means when you are job searching for a place to work happily, you know that you can look at companies that share your values. You don’t have to limit your job your satisfaction to accommodate a work environment that is simply not a fit for your values. And, the better you understand your values, the more easily you are to identify them in a potential workplace.

Take Action!

In your job search you should:

  1. Look at the website of a company to see if they support your values. Do they host social events, are they partnered with a charity, do they list benefits, what is their mission statement?
  2. Visit Glassdoor.com, do the employee reviews give insight into the values of the company?
  3. Ask someone who works at the company – including the person interviewing you for an opportunity. It is just as important that a company is a right fit for your happiness, as you are to theirs.
  4. Think about what is important to you. Where are you willing to make compromises and what values are essential to you?

What do you find valuable in your current career or in a potential career opportunity?