“When I was in High School, I didn’t know what I wanted to study, but I knew what I wanted to be,” explains Claudia as she unpacks the past few years of her life since leaving University.
She goes on, “I wanted to be an Art Director, working for a major publication because I wanted to be super creative.” After some investigation, Claudia discovered a course that might lead her in that direction, which was in Marketing and Media at one of Sydney’s foremost Universities.
Her first job after leaving University was not quite what she dreamed it would be back in High School though. It was a Marketing Coordinator for a Pest Control company.
“Pest control was not the industry that I imagined myself in when I was in Uni. But I didn’t want to be too picky because other people were having trouble finding a job straight out of Uni. So, I thought, ‘ok, I’ll take it!’”
Initially Claudia managed her new role well, putting her skills to good use. Although when a change of management occurred, life became more challenging for her. As she reflects on that period of change, she thinks about many of the emotions she experienced.
“My relationship with my manager wasn’t harmonious. I felt like my ideas were being pushed down and that there was a lot of red tape to getting decisions made. I reached a point where I didn’t really care about my work.”
The situation caused her to question whether she was in the right career. With the benefit of hindsight, she sees a different picture about what was affecting her frame of mind then.
“To be honest, I think it was more about my emotions, rather than making the wrong decision about going into marketing. I was rethinking everything. I went to the extreme of thinking that my whole career choice had been a mistake, rather than just looking at the specific situation of my workplace.”
These thoughts set her on a path to look at other careers, including nursing or social work. But she read Revolutionary Work: What’s the Point of 9-5 by William Taylor, which she found helpful at the time. It is written from a Christian perspective and sets out the view that basically all work is good if done as God originally intended it.
So, she thought that she would stick with marketing, concluding that as a career it was still valid, but that she should change industries. “So, I started looking for work in the Not-for-Profit industry.” This eventually led to the role that she is currently working in for an International Humanitarian organisation as a Marketing Coordinator.
The role has turned out to be quite a blessing for her, although the first six months were a period of realigning her expectations with her experience. “I was strongly attracted to their work as a Christian agency. I resonated with their values, which was a very strong motivator. Yet, I still had to settle into a workplace that had its own unique character and rhythms.”
Even though Claudia is at the beginning of her working career she believes that these experiences taught her valuable lessons about herself and the broader context of work relationships. “I’ve learned that people and culture are the big things for me. Developing good relationships with people from the start makes a difference, especially when you are settling into a brand new workplace.”
Reflecting on her first work situation, she sees that communication had a huge part to play in her dissatisfaction and wonders if she could have said more to her manager prior to handing in her resignation. “I regret how I managed that situation. It was very sudden for my manager when I resigned. He kept asking me questions about my decision to leave, but all I said at the time was that it was time for me to move on.”
It is impossible to say whether her situation would have improved had she aired her dissatisfaction more directly. My own reflection is that those with power in these situations need to take time to understand the impact of their leadership, especially on those who are at the very beginnings of their working lives. The benefits though for Claudia now are that she has found herself working in an environment where her skills are valued, and she feels that she has a voice.
Room for Grief
Any final thoughts from Claudia?
“I have come to realise how important it is to give room for grief when you pass through one period in your life and move onto the next. It may not sound profound, but it is important to give space for grief in whatever form it shows itself for the things that you leave behind as you keep growing.”