In July of 2001 I joined a fiber-optics startup company as a sales and marketing assistant. I reported to the Vice President of Sales and Marketing which meant his job was to direct the company’s sales and marketing efforts, and, since we were a department of two, my job was to do all the work on the ground. I found vendors to design our website, logo, flyers, and banners. I wrote website content, press releases, advertising copy, and data sheets. I managed our first trade show and cold-called anyone who could remotely be a potential customer. It was satisfying to see our marketing programs come into fruition, and was convinced we had great technology, but unfortunately, we weren’t getting any customers.
Shortly after our first product launch, employees were told that all salaries were to be cut by 70%. ” Excuse me, did you say our salaries will be cut by 17%?” I asked unbelieving. “It’s 70%,” our president repeated. Later that afternoon we were informed that since a 70% decrease would mean many of us, including myself, would be making less than minimum wage, we would be given the minimum wage salary instead.
Things went downhill from there. Meetings were hushed behind closed doors and politics was rampant. I learned very quickly I was on the losing team. “This ship is sinking,” my manager told me. ” He was right. Within a few months, everyone in our office (except a few top executives) had been laid off.
Leaving the teaching profession was strike one for me. After this job, I was sure I didn’t want a career in sales and marketing, so that was strike two. Although I enjoyed creating glossy materials and overseeing marketing projects from beginning to end, I needed something meaningful, an ideal, to motivate me. I was in the “real world” of business and discovered I did not fit in. This meant I would have to start all over again in my search for career.
I did not want a strike three.
Questions for Reflection or Discussion
Have you ever found yourself in the wrong job? Have you ever quit a job to start something new, only to find that your new career path was not a good fit either? Do you have a story about starting over?