Conventional wisdom goes something like this: the economy is sluggish, the job market is tough and everyone who’s managed to stay steadily employed for the past few years is lucky. But as companies tighten their belts, workers who managed to hold on to jobs and new entrants in the work force are being asked to take on every-growing amounts of responsibility. Couple that with technology that allows us to stay plugged into the office 24/7, and you have the perfect recipe for burnout — even in an industry or position that you love. We don’t think that women talk to each other about burning out at work often enough, and we want to change that. This is one feature of many that will address the issue of burnout head on, and endeavor to come up with practical solutions to combat it.
Jane Doe is a 25 year old woman working for a large media conglomerate in New York City, who has chosen not to reveal her name.
I finished college and knew that I wanted to work in something creative, whether that was marketing or any sort of advertising [field]. I didn’t really know — I had gotten a degree in journalism and public relations, and neither of those things really seemed like what I was great at. I spent the first two years of college having no idea what I wanted to do whatsoever, which is part of the reason why I ended up going to a state school. I knew I was going into college having no idea what I wanted to focus on, so I rationalized going to a state school because I was like “Well, I don’t need to spend 40 grand a year figuring it out.”
I literally got to the point where I was called in and they were like, “You have to declare [a major], it’s time.” And at that moment I felt like I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew writing was something that I was good at and the world of entertainment and media appealed to me too, so I just figured Okay fine, I’ll do journalism and focus on public relations and mass media and see if I can find a place in that world.
I went to a giant university, and especially as an undeclared [student] there wasn’t a lot of support because I think I was one of 40,000 students they were talking to. Once I got into the journalism program that I ended up going with, they were really good, and I think that had I decided to stay in-state after graduating I would have been very well set up. There weren’t a ton of opportunities out of the state and I had decided very early on that I went to state school and that felt like a sacrifice, so I wasn’t going to stay there as soon as I graduated.
When we had to get an internship all of the fairs and things that I went to were focused on things in-state, and I went to the advisor and said “I don’t want to do one here. I want to do it somewhere else because I don’t want to be here.” And it was like “Well that’s great, we support you, but you’re going to have to just find it [yourself].” In the world of entertainment and media I thought there was Los Angeles, but that wasn’t really what I wanted, and New York. I thought [NYC] would have even better opportunities and I really liked the city. So I moved here hoping that I could leverage the connections I had formed in the internship I had the year before [in NYC] as well as basically any personal connection I could find. I was going to come and mine every connection I had until it led to something.
I didn’t know that many people but I knew a couple of really good people. While I didn’t necessarily have a million people in my corner, I was lucky to have a professor my senior year [of college] who had left the media world in New York having been in that industry for something like 15 years, so he was a huge asset. He reached out to everyone he knew on my behalf. And I had a family friend who works in the industry as well and she immediately was 110% in my corner. In terms of the internship I had previously, it was in a company that I liked and ultimately ended up working for, but the department [I interned in] wasn’t really where I saw myself going.
[The people I interned for] were helpful and they definitely had my back, but they weren’t super connected outside of their department. I would have gone elsewhere, but I knew the most people in that company and it’s enormous. One of the people that I had been talking to who had been helping me contacted me and said “There’s this opening, it’s not necessarily in the field that you’ve been looking in but it’s in the company.” She said “I think if you’re interested you should come in, we’ll talk about what it is, and interview.” So I went in, learned about it, and decided that it was something I was interested in pursuing, and [then I] interviewed and got it.
[The job] was in a sales type of role, which is not something I ever considered or wanted. So when I heard about it I was not necessarily excited, but it was not a great market to be looking for a job, and I knew I had to get one because I had already signed a lease [for an apartment]. So I went in thinking Oh let’s see, you can’t really turn down chances to interview, and then having learned a bit more it definitely sounded and ended up being a lot different that what I expected. It was a lot more fun, there were creative components to it, it was a very analytical job. My brother had worked in an ad sales type of position and it was a lot of cold calling and he just wanted to kill himself. And I had in the back of my head the idea that Oh gosh, it’s just going to be this dark, sad room where I’m just blindly hitting a phone number and getting rejected, but it wasn’t that at all.
The first year was good. I discovered quickly that I was very good at it. There’s a certain personality that’s attracted to sales, and I don’t have it. I think not having that personality made me stand out because I was different from a lot of the people who were doing the same job, and I was rewarded a lot. People went out of their way to tell me that I was doing a great job. I think as soon as you feel like you’re good at something, you’re immediately excited about it. So for that first year, realizing that I was doing great and people were really appreciating what I was doing, all of a sudden I was thinking, Maybe this is a world that I want to stay in, because you get drunk on the feeling of being the best.