Career crisis
April 21, 2014 1:28 PM   Subscribe

Five years into my field aaaannd I don't think it's for me... help?

A bit of a long story but background details always helps in narrowing down advice.

During university I interned at X Company in the automotive industry for 3 summers, then upon graduation I was hired on. Worked their for three years full time, but coming up on the fourth year I was pretty much muscled out of there for a number of reasons. 1. Someone had to be thrown under the bus and of course it's always the person at the bottom of the totem pole. 2. The company is super antiquated and many colleagues and mentors jumped ship and had warned me to do so too... so I did. During my time there I worked in international marketing, really a point person for all international teams to us as a resource and help roll out tools to team. Really had a high level point of view and had a variety of tasks to do day in and day out. So I was a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Immediately as I started looking for a new job and was hired on at Company Y doing a snippet of what I used to do at my last company, event planning. Company Y is a totally different industry, the structure of their company hierarchy is totally different, their corporate culture is completely different. At first I was having a really hard time accepting all of this but as I continue to work here I've come to realize that its not just the company that is hard for me to deal with, it's the job. I'm in over my head. It's too demanding and too stressful and no one has patience with me. My boss and I do the same work and she does 4 times the amount of events I do. She really doesn't have patience with me. I've always been an overachiever but this whole company is made of over-overachievers that just want to make others feel inferior. I feel really lost and on top of that now I feel like I am under qualified for everything. I was hating myself, really beating myself up because I feel like I am underperforming though I am trying really hard and now I'm starting to really hate this job and I don't want to think like that. It's ruining my mental health.

I've started to look for a new job in a new company and I am scared I am under qualified for everything now and that ultimately I will have the same experience I have now, everywhere.

So hive, can you give me some tips? Have you been in a position like this? What did you do? Should I change fields? Career path? I just need some help. I've tried to look for mentors here at Company Y and professional organizations I participate outside of work but I can't find anyone. I do still plan on going back to school next year but with a wedding coming up I need to save money and such before I go back full-time.

So last bit, some facts:
-Yes I love marketing, but I feel like I have LOTS to learn. The end goal was to do strategic marketing but I am really doubting I can do it now.
-My strengths lie in presentation-giving, public speaking, teaching, coming up with ideas, problem solving. I have considered going more into account management but I have no idea where to start with that.
-Plan was to go back for my MBA.
posted by xicana63 to Work & Money (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Jobs are like dating. Either they're right for you, or they're not.

You can't extrapolate that this job was shit, therefore, I'm shit, because it doesn't work that way. You have what? A sample size of 2? I guess you weren't paying attention in Stats.

Find a new job. Think very clearly of what you want to do. What do you know now. What do you want to learn? Etc.

Then do a very targeted search for Job Charming.

In the meantime, get with your manager and say, "You have 20 years to my 2 years of experience in this realm. What am I good at? What do I need to improve, and how do you suggest that I organize myself to best do this job?"

Don't get an MBA unless you can do it part-time and job pays for it. I have one, it's okay to have, but it has opened exactly NO doors for me.

I think I read this on the blue, but men apply for jobs they have 60% match of qualifications and women apply only if they feel they have 100% of the qualifications. In otherwords, you don't need more school, or more training or more of anything except of doing the job.

If you hate event planning, by all means, look for another marketing gig. I'm with you on that.

But don't get all bajiggity just because this one weird aspect of marketing isn't for you.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:42 PM on April 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ruthless Bunny gives you some really good advice there - especially the second half. Here's something else to consider: only you can decide if Marketing is right for you - but if you like the idea of the work and you're just having trouble executing in this niche, you might just need some mentoring. I'm 25 years into my career, and it was about the 5-year mark where I was struggling and eventually had sort of a breakthrough.

Dave Thomas once said, "Instead of waiting for someone to take you under their wing, find a good wing to climb under."

Is there a wing you can crawl under? Someone who will recognize your efforts in good faith and help you polish the skillset?
posted by Thistledown at 2:01 PM on April 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

> Don't get an MBA unless you can do it part-time and job pays for it. I have one, it's okay to have, but it has opened exactly NO doors for me.

I wouldn't say don't get an MBA, but be careful which MBA you get.

A family member got an MBA from a top 5 program in the U.S. and it definitely opened doors for him. As is usual for top MBA programs, he attended full-time and paid his own way through loans, but it was a worthwhile investment for him because of the type of jobs and pay scales it gave him access to. It also has been helpful to him many years on, as his MBA cohort as well as alumni from the MBA program have been a valuable network in his professional life.

I remember seeing some years ago an analysis of ROI on MBA's, and being surprised that an MBA from the lower-ranked top 50 schools did not result in increased income. The huge jumps in pay and better jobs came from attending the top-10 programs, with somewhat diminishing returns down to the top-25 schools. So attending a lower-ranked MBA program full-time and paying for it oneself could actually result in a net loss. In that case Ruthless Bunny's advice holds, don't do it unless you can do it part-time and somebody else pays for it.
posted by needled at 3:19 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good lord, if your strength is in public speaking, you could probably do ANYTHING in marketing and get away with it. Most marketing and other folks would die for that skill!!! An MBA can be very helpful as it gives you strong business skills. I did one and increased my pay to over 60%.
posted by jbean at 4:33 PM on April 21, 2014

A bad experience at a job can really undermine your confidence, but do not start believing that you are "underqualified" for everything. Don't be afraid to apply to things that look interesting to you. However, think about how you can get from where you are to where you want to be, and be somewhat strategic about the next job. There's no clear path from "event planning" to "strategic marketing," so aim for something where there's a discernable path from Next Job to Dream Job.

Reach out to your mentors from your old company and let them know you are interested in transitioning out of this segment of marketing and back to a strategic or generalist position. Ask for their advice about what would be a good next move for you to position yourself for strategic marketing in x years.

Unless you are going to do a top 5 MBA, the right time for this is when your career is starting to take off a little, you have been marked as a high performer or high potential person in your organization, and the MBA can give you the next little push to demonstrate that you are serious. A middleweight MBA is not going to open many doors by itself, but with a good track record of success can help demonstrate that you are serious about advancing.
posted by jeoc at 5:52 PM on April 21, 2014

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