College, the time in life to figure it all out, to discover who you are, and to find where you fit in this giant world. My choice seemed rather simple at the time: become a writer. I targeted my efforts in the direction of creative writing. My interests expanded into literary magazine publishing, linguistics, poetry, fiction; the collegiate world opened doors to nearly every aspect of the writing world. It wasn’t until a few weeks after I proudly received my diploma that I realized I stood before the great corporate giant with a creative writing degree.
My father’s words haunted me, “How will you get a job with this degree?” I attacked the classifieds, dominated the job boards, scavenged the streets, shook hands, continuously called former professors, and went to the job center at my previous university. I took temp jobs at publishing companies, served as an intern at a literary magazine-I accepted the fact that perhaps I had a degree with little merit in the real world.
I spat out every excuse in the book, deciding the universe itself seemed to have turned against me.
One Sunday as I foraged through the classifieds, I spotted something-I drew numerous circles around the article. Adrenaline pounded through me, this was my job and I felt it in my bones. I rushed off to fax my résumé.
A few days later, I got a call for the interview and within a week, I was working as a writer. The job was fun although not extremely challenging and the climate was suffocating. My editor was talented and worked with me to sharpen my skills. She had an open mind and always appreciated my new ideas, incorporating as many as possible. As much as I enjoyed working with a mentor who dedicated her extra time to teaching me the ropes, I knew remaining in the stifling micro-management environment would crush my spirit.
After leaving my first official writing gig and unsuccessfully attempting to secure another, I set out to explore the underbelly of the so called ‘real world’. I traversed through temp agencies, taking jobs ranging from reception, assistant project manager, model home hostess, mock juror, and sales manager, among others.
Through working at numerous organizations, I viewed the various corporate structures that exist. Some organizations were laid back; relaxed while others are contagious with a fun, team-structured atmosphere. A few were stern and cold and provide little satisfaction; staring at the seconds ticking slowly becomes a past time in these environments.
Just as corporate culture affects a company’s overall pulse, the separate styles and personalities of its management impacts the organization’s heartbeat. Every employee reacts to this rhythm, whether it is healthy or diseased.
My experience within these foreign, diverse environments granted me the opportunity to study and begin to grasp the different ways companies functioned. Living inside their confines as an outsider, I was a cultural anthropologist studying the various tribes I would inevitably join.