Almost 4 months have passed since I graduated from Missouri State University. In that short amount of time, my life was ushered in a very unexpected direction. Days after graduating, I packed up my belongings that were left in my apartment in Springfield and ventured back to Lake St. Louis.
After moving back into my parents’ home, I was certain that I had my life figured out. I had an amazing job lined up. I had ambitions to make money quickly in order to buy a new car, move into a new apartment, and to pay off the pile of student loans that I would eventually be issued. I was excited to enter adulthood and to begin this next phase of my life. Well Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m afraid to say that reality did not mirror my joyous expectations.
A few days into 2017, I began work at what I thought was going to be my dream job. As a recent graduate, I was overzealous to perform work at a marketing firm in a creative advertising environment. Being able to take on a role in a field that I studied in College; in a field that I was passionate about, was everything that I could have asked for. It was almost too good to be true, but that’s only because it was too good to be true.
I entered the office of the firm that I was employed at eagerly awaiting my first task. Walking in, I was excited to collaborate with a passionate and creative bunch in order to build marketing campaigns for major brands. While the passion of the team was there, the integrity was missing. What I thought would be exactly what I was looking for, was the complete opposite.
This job was a scam. I went to work ready to build creative material but this role became a direct sales position. Though this title may sound entertaining, it was anything but that.
Alright, so here’s the day-to-day itinerary that I followed:
1) Show up to the firm in professional attire by no later than 7:30 am
2) Begin the hour-long, company kick-off meeting
3) Be paired in random teams with fellow coworkers
So now here’s when things get juicy:
4) Be given a map to random areas of Missouri
5) Drive to that region that was listed on that map given (Which I was forced to drive to by my manager. Oh it was also 2 hours away)
6) Park my car and travel by foot to every business establishment in the area from the map that we were issued (which were 3 mile trails of probably 70-80 businesses in snowy, rainy weather conditions)
7) Attempt to sell promo bags of make up to people working at the establishment until 6:30 pm with no time aside for a lunch break
8) Repeat this process 6 days a week (Yes we also worked Saturdays)
While I did not mind dressing professionally (solely because I enjoy looking dapper), I do have a thorough hatred of being lied to. I was told that I would work with others to create useful marketing assets and campaigns. Instead I was performing work of cold solicitor. Though I respect people that perform this work, I knew this was the wrong opportunity for me. I was miserable in this role and needless to say, it wasn’t long until I parted away.
After resigning from this position, I found myself back at stage one. No longer employed, I knew I needed to act quickly in order to find a new job. Stressed, upset, and with little money in my bank account, I was certain that I needed to be more prepared in my search for employment. I spent hours and hours filling out applications, performing research, modifying my resume’, making phone calls, and studying reviews about different companies, roles, and employers. I took an active approach because I was motivated that I would not be fooled again. I was much more prepared this go-around.
(Side note: If you are ever in search for a job, always study Glassdoor reviews. This source offers premiere advice when preparing for interviews and beginning new careers).
Fast-forward a little over a month. After a handful of interviews with very little feedback, no progress was made. Still unemployed, I found myself very worried that I wouldn’t have any good offers come my way. I was on the verge of settling for serving and cook positions at nearly any restaurant. I was desperate for money and was scared that companies would not take a chance on me.
As I approached a breaking point, I was hit with a wave of relief when I got a phone call for an interview at very reputable Marketing and Sales service provider. After 3 interviews, I was hired a week later for a very honorable sales position. Even though I came from primarily a marketing background, I was very excited to begin this new role and to start a new chapter in my life.
My first day of the job was very welcoming. I arrived at the facility along with a group of other trainees. We began our orientation that lasted over a week. As that week went on, I was overwhelmed when learning about the different responsibilities and functions that I would have to cope with quickly.
After our training period was over, it was time to officially get to work. At this point, I was still very overwhelmed. With no prior sales experience, everything was extremely new to me. I wasn’t used to making sales calls, keeping up with conversations with company executives about certain industry services, and pitching a solution that would match their need.
Did I mention I was overwhelmed? Well to tell you the truth, my anxiety was at an all time high. In all honesty, I really didn’t know what I was doing and was embarrassed by my performance. I was surrounded by a fun, energetic group of coworkers that were successfully performing their job well, while I was struggling to even ask an intelligent question to a prospect. I found myself in a slump fast and was hardly making any improvement. I’ve always been the type to adapt to things easily but for the first time in my life, I was truly scared of failing. I was worried that I would let my manager and coworkers down because of my abysmal performance.
I’ve always been a very responsible, confident, and hard working individual and have found ways to excel with any responsibility thrown in front of me. I grew extremely frustrated that I wasn’t adapting like I needed to. I knew this was a great opportunity for me but I was terrified that I would ruin it. In such a weak state, I knew it was time to reach out for help. Weeks into the job, I came home very upset one night and instantly started venting to my Mom. She has always been my number 1 fan and my greatest support system. She understood my position and instilled a sense of confidence in me that I lost. She motivated me to make a change and to break out of my shell.
I took my Mom’s advice full heartedly. I reflected on our conversation and on my previous accomplishments. In this moment of disarray, I realized that I had lost myself. I wasn’t giving myself enough credit and I wasn’t putting in the work to be the leader that I know I can and should be. I was ready to make the change and to find myself again.
The next day, I knew I needed to reach out to my managers and coworkers for advice. I spent time that day shadowing others, taking pointers, and incorporating new things into my sales pitch. Even with this new help, I knew there was much more learning and adapting that needed to take place. That evening, I was pulled into a meeting with some of my managers. They knew that I was frustrated and instantly made effort to help. They provided me with tips, resources, and a plan that would ultimately turn the tide for me in this troublesome state. This ultimately lured me out this slump and put me on a platform that would guide me to success. Early in the month, I performed poorly and was on the verge of defeat, but I am proud to say that I made a drastic improvement when my back was against the wall. At the last day of the month, I was able to reach the required sales quota after being held to one point for nearly the first 3 weeks.
While I am happy to say that I was able to make a positive change, I am still far from being satisfied. I’ve come a long way but, I’m not anywhere close to where I want to be not only with this career, but also with my life. I know that I am destined for greatness and will continue to strive for nothing less. I believe that there are several more opportunities for me to succeed and I can’t wait to see myself capitalize on those moments.
Whenever you endure a tough time, don’t let it drive you down. Use the challenge to your advantage, utilize your strengths, learn from your mistakes, and take risks. Failure is hard. It’s not easy to cope with, but it is not fatal. Success is not eternal. Nothing is guaranteed in life. If you have a dream, put in the effort and the passion, and success will come. It may not be immediate, but it will be rewarding.
It’s cliché, but I believe that anything worth having or accomplishing takes time and effort. Don’t be afraid to work hard and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to reach out for help. No one is perfect, but we are all human. It’s ok to not know everything and it’s ok not to be the top performer, but it’s absolutely not ok to give up. Don’t let people stand in the way of everything that you hope to achieve. Remain optimistic, and use criticism as an asset to improve. If people want to laugh at your beliefs, your aspirations, and your passion, use that as a motivator to your success.
It was best said by Johnny Cash that you can only “build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”
Essentially, life is full of ups and downs. There’s nothing more evident, however it is also a cycle of learning experiences. Only the best use failure to their advantage. They use it as a learning platform. Failure is only a speed bump to excellence.
I can say with full confidence that I am nowhere close to where I want to be professionally and in life in general, but I know that there are much better times ahead. I’m excited to see what the future beholds. I can’t wait to overcome the challenges that I endure and am looking forward to making a positive impact on this world.
Even at the point of dismay, it’s important to realize that everyone has a rough patch to get through. When moments get tough, make the adjustment to get tougher and to get better. Learn, dream, and accomplish. Never lose faith, let your heart show, and always demonstrate the effort needed to be the best person you can be.