Next week I officially start a new position at the company I work for, JACK Entertainment.
For the past five months I have been working in government relations and legal. Doing a lot of research and summary for the GR side, and a lot of proofreading and contract organization on the legal side.
Did I ever think I would work in government relations? Not really. Did I have a clear idea about whether I would like it or not before taking the job almost half a year ago? Nope.
It was an opportunity. I liked the feel of the company, I wanted to work in Downtown Detroit, I liked my boss. I knew nothing about gaming and nothing about government relations.
Now I also do this program called Praxis. It’s essentially an entrepreneurial apprenticeship program. It places ambitious, smart, and generally amazing young people at awesome companies all over the country while exposing them to a kick-ass educational curriculum and network in the process.
After getting accepted to the program, I was sure I wanted to do Praxis, but not so sure whether I wanted to take the job at JACK. I was able to work out a version of the program where I participated in the educational and network side, but not the job placement side.
But I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was wracked with fear of missing out, had doubts about whether it was worth paying for part of Praxis since I already had another job lined up, unsure about joining the legal team.
Now, during this time I was filled with kind of a general regret and the feeling of having wasted four valuable years sitting in a classroom. Because of this I was scared to death about regretting some real or perceived opportunity cost in the future due to my current choices.
And on top of that, I started to see fellow Praxians in my cohort getting placed at what looked like really awesome jobs–and the uncertainty with my choice grew ever more profuse. Did I do the right thing in taking the job at JACK? Would I have gotten a better opportunity if I had just done the entire Praxis program? I didn’t know.
So what did I do?
Well first, I acknowledged that I was right smack in the middle of a grass-is-always-greener scenario. So I cut the crap with myself, toned down my time spent perusing the Praxis Facebook group (to cut down on my own insecurity in the face of seeing other people’s awesomeness), worked with my Praxis adviser to help really hash out what I was interested in, what I am good at, and what I could do with that.
More importantly though, I decided to myself that I had made the right decision working for JACK. I decided that if I figured out how, I could produce tons of value for the company, and gain loads of value for myself.
I stopped putting the idea of “start-ups” on a pedestal, stopped worrying about other people (to the extent that I could), and started exploring ways to be successful at my company. I decided to put myself out there.
This is where having a forward tilt came into play.
I thought I was interested in marketing. I say “thought” because I had never done it, wasn’t even sure of all it entailed. But I like to write, I like working with WordPress, and I like the idea of connecting people with goods and services that they want or need.
Right before starting at JACK I had an idea for a content marketing concept. With “Entertainment” being half of our name, I thought why not become the experts and the go to source for all things entertainment within the cities that we operate. Simple enough.
So I built a quick website, wrote like five or six blog posts about cool things going on or things to do in Detroit, and before I even started at the company, sent it to my government relations boss. I had told him in the interview that I was interested in marketing and in possibly moving into a marketing role in the future. So it wasn’t totally out of the blue.
My first week he gave me an intro to one of our marketing VP’s. He and I went to lunch and I pitched the website concept to him. He then introduced me to our VP of Communications who handles all the PR stuff. She liked the idea and now parts of the concept are being incorporated into our company blog.
And that would have been cool enough.
The meetings between me and the VP of Communications took place in November and December of last year. And at the same time I was figuring out my actual job and role at the company. Trying to learn it and figure out how I could be the most useful.
And then a few weeks ago, the VP of Marketing who I had had lunch with in my second week of working there reached out to me about a marketing position that had opened up.
After a couple weeks of talking to the marketing people and to my current boss, I decided to take it. I am now the Manager of Marketing Services at JACK Entertainment.
The point of all this?
Have a forward tilt. Have such eagerness to create value that you can’t help but lean forward over the table in your job interview or meeting. And if you don’t have it, find something to work on or be challenged with that gives it to you.
But above all else, put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just try things and do stuff. Because even if you are not successful in the way you originally wanted to be, you’ll build experience, you’ll build contacts, you’ll build confidence.
You never know where things will lead. But the worst thing you can do is sit and wait for things for happen to you.
This is what Praxis has taught me. And this is what the past five months at my job have shown me.