A Girl’s Gotta Pay The Bills: Should I Go Corporate?

Finding a job you love

 

I am a very happy, happy lady.  I am living back in southern California, just purchased a car (a Ford Focus I call Bruce Wayne’s Bat Mobile or the “Bruce Caboose” after my dad who picked it out.)  and am loving my running training.  I just added two new races to my schedule and have been wining and dining with old friends the last two weeks.   Life. Is. Good.

There’s only one problem-  I need a plan.  I don’t have one.

So, Chicago wasn’t really feeling like home for the last few months. I’d finished graduate school and was working as a freelance social media consultant and problogger from my apartment.  My lease was up at the end of August and wasn’t planning to renew at the uber-cheap apartment.  I decided to move back to a small town in California and look for work in a big city elsewhere as a social media strategist for a larger company.

Well, I made these tidy little plans and started packing.  Then as I was taping up boxes and planning said-tidy-life, I fell in love.  Yes, my boyfriend is in Chicago, and he is awesome.  My life in California is also awesome.  I think somewhere between the day I left him and the day I arrived here, I realized that I needed to reunite with him, whether I wanted to admit it or not.

Fate is cruel, God is hilarious and people in love are stupid in regards to taking the path of least resistance.  This I know.  Moving on.

Besides an unanticipated (and unfrugal) case of the smittens to complicate things, life is great.  I am just now mulling over a futile attempt to plan the future…and afford it.

 

So, running my own business has been going well financially and professionally. I love it but of course, I have my doubts.  I have my M.A. degree in sociology (has to be paid for) and while my business means I’m getting by, as a financial blogger, I’m not making enough money to hit my lofty financial and personal goals.  I also lack health insurance and don’t feel like I’m putting enough aside for the future.

I’ve been applying for social media strategy jobs at some stellar companies- but the problem I face is that I lack 3-5 years of managerial experience for a larger brand.  Most of my clients are bloggers, authors or entrepreneurs- which for some reason, to recruiters isn’t “big” enough for them to feel I can handle a larger brand project.  Bummer.  I’m still scratching my head on how to demonstrate worth without the sleazy feeling that comes with “getting noticed.”  I know there’s a balance between bragging and simply pitching your skills, the line seems uncomfortably fuzzy for me.

 

So, why did I mention the boyfriend, the town and the jobs?  Needless to say, I need a plan (even a flimsy one) for my future and I’m floundering on a game plan.

 

I’ve worked hard thus far, and am willing to do a lot more- but what if I’m not doing enough?  There are both advantages and disadvantages to being a work-for-yourself freelancer type… you have complete control over your day, but if you have a bad month, it’s your dime.  Additionally, as a solopreneur, there are opportunities for professional growth, networking & exposure I may not be able to land on my own.  I feel there is still so much to learn and experience, and if I can do that without having to dip into my emergency fund during a slow month, that’d be nice too.   Beyond the money issues, I’ve worried that if I don’t land a snazzy “corporate” job, I won’t get taken seriously if I choose later to re-enter the work force.

 

But then- there’s part of me that wonders if I could be doing just fine on my own.  I’ve built a successful blog (thank you.) and a great list of clients at Cake Mix Media doing social media for like-minded business folk like myself, and it means that I can travel whenever I want.  I love the one-on-one time with clients and the ability to work with small businesses and such authentic, hardworking people.  Being able to make social media goals to amplify the reach of small businesses and solopreneurs is a blessing I could lose in a big company.  Additionally, when I want to attend a conference or fly upstate for a baby shower, I can travel on the fly…pretty snazzy!

Most people would kill to be a problogger & work-at-home solopreneur, I love it… but should I go corporate for a bit?

 My goals for the next year is this:

  • Build up a $3,000 emergency fund.
  • Visit boyfriend in the midwest.
  • Pay off my student loans & car loans. (about $10k+ total)
  • Complete my two runDisney half marathons & party at the parks!
  • Attend two conferences & add four more races to my travel schedule.
  • Score some health insurance & max out my Roth IRA.

I’m estimating I will need about $50,000 in income to hit these goals (and paid vacay wouldn’t hurt).  So, hitting my travel, fitness & savings goals will take some money and even some flexibility.  I’ve been applying for jobs and have had a lot of interest, plenty of emails and call backs- but the fun stops when I just lack the “years of experience” they seek… for 3 months it’s been a tough series of applications and I’m getting frustrated.  It’s your typical “new grad in a down economy” sing song.  I’m ready to fly.

Either way, I still plan on working in social media & blogging with the same passion for fierce-frugality I’ve always had.  Don’t worry, you can’t shake me yet! ;)

So, my dear readers- I’m a recent grad with my M.A. in sociology in a rough job market.  Should I focus on building my business, or wait it out for a dream-job offer?

 

Comments

  1. says

    Wow, really tough call. It really just depend what is most important to you, and only you can decide that. As a freelancer myself who often times just breaks even each month, it’s not worth the flexible schedule and working from home anymore. After four years I realized stability is way more important to me. (and benefits!). It can never hurt to keep doing what you’re doing….freelancing and applying for “corporate jobs” because if you fine one you like, then you can really make that decision. The beauty of the stuff we do for a living is it allows us to do that…a lot of careers don’t.

    • says

      For sure, I’m glad I have options especially in this job market which (in my opinion) is pretty rough for recent grads, but it provides an interesting challenge!

      I found a few good job openings today and am putting my applications in- I would love to work in the areas I blog about- fashion, fitness or finance with an emphasis on new media and events!

  2. Theresa says

    Hi there! First, I love your blog…thanks for continuing to write.

    So, I’m a Recruiter in Chicago. I work from home for a large company that is based on the West Coast. I’m happy to talk through some of the pros and cons of going to work for a corporate company. I think you can have the best of both worlds if you work as a vendor for a larger company in social media. Recruiters need social media specialists. I’d love to have a chat with you if you’re interested in some help :) Let me know!!

    Theresa

  3. says

    Oh man, the life of a full-time blogger/entrepreneur/dreamer! We have some ups and downs don’t we? :) If there’s ONE thing I’ve learned over the years though – both in blogging and in my daily every day life – it’s that everything is just a PHASE. Whether it lasts 3 days, 3 months, or even 3 years. And there are good phases and bad ones. BUT – and this is important – life never stops moving and you can ALWAYS 100% change your mind at any given point.

    It sounds simple, and it kinda is, but it’s finally sunk in with me that it’s OK to choose one path and give it a shot, and then change to another or another or whatever you need to do to be happy *today*. That’s the question I ask myself when I’m in a rut or not sure what’s going on – “Am I happy right now?” If it’s more or less a Yes (we’ll always have crap going on and work we don’t want to do but have to), I keep on going for it. If it’s a No or a Probably Not, then I make a change and try and get out of that phase as soon as possible.

    That’s the beauty of all of this to me – We as individuals have the power to do whatever we want, whenever we want, and once you get past the “am I flaky? am i giving up too early? is this the “right” answer” etc self-doubting questions, things seem to move much smoother. Though ofcourse easier said than done ;)

    I don’t know if this helps at all, but just know you are AWESOME and everyone will support you here no matter where life takes you. The only “right” answers are the ones that feel good to you and make you happy. And then you can change your mind all over again in 2 months! ;)

    • says

      I love your outlook J! As a friend and fellow blogger you’ve been a big inspiration and you have tackled some amazing projects beyond the blog, like Love Drop! I think the worst worries or critics we have are in our own head, everything else doesn’t really matter once you get past your own “shoulds” or ridiculous expectations.

      My goal is to grow a bit more and be in an environment that challenges me. I’d love to use my blogging skills/experience to help a company or project grow, I just need to find the right one!

  4. says

    That’s a decision that only you can make.
    We have “gone corporate” for now, but have a timeline in place to take us out of it at a specific date, so we don’t feel like we’re compromising our goals by working for someone else.
    It’s nice to have regular paychecks, benefits, etc – but we know we want to build something for ourselves someday instead of building things for others.
    Good luck with your decision – it certainly won’t be an easy one.

    • says

      I love the variety of perspectives! In the blogosphere everyone seems to talk about working for themselves, but the right company could be just as good as going solo if your values are aligned and you have some of the financial pressure taken off.

      I have some big financial and fitness goals for the next year and I’m serious about making them a reality. If I find the right role in a good company I think it could be just the resource I need to grow professionally and personally.

    • says

      I agree with Mrs. Pop. It’s ultimately up to you and what’s in your heart.
      Although I don’t see why you can’t do both. Keeping up with and building the work you have now can’t hurt at all until you find something that fits your dream job. You’re in a unique position of having options! Enjoy the bit of freedom that allows. :)

  5. says

    What a great question.

    I think the real question is of needs vs. wants.

    There is a cost to corporate life for sure. Loss of free time is surely one of them.

    Maybe a good old pros & cons list would be a good way to weigh out what’s most important to you. Good Luck <3

    • says

      Hey Linda! I totally here you- but free time isn’t necessarily free either. There are some costs to freelancing like paying out of pocket for insurance, no 401k match, and of course- if you have a bad month, that’s on your shoulders.

      On the same hand, a corporate job isn’t necessarily safe either. People get laid off due to whims in the market and lose their “5 year plans” in an instant…an office job isn’t as secure as people think.

      Each has benefits and costs..I keep going back and forth, but just like my relocation plan (when I couldn’t decide between NYC and California) I eventually sift through the chaos and make a decision.

  6. says

    I just recently found your blog and am loving it – are you a Dave Ramsey fan?I’m getting serious with his baby steps and am determined to kick this debt out the door.

    I am currently reading Quitter by Jon Acuff and it is helping me appreciate my day job and seeing it as a helpful path to my dream job; you might find it interesting. I personally don’t think going corporate for a year or two is a bad thing. You can continue to do your own business on the side but you’ll have some financial stability and be able to get your finances where you want them to be in a shorter amount of time. And if you go corporate and hate it you can always quit knowing that you do have a job and skills to fall back on and won’t be completely out of work. Did that make any sense? That is a lot of the premise behind Quitter because you’re right, a girl’s gotta pay the bills, but going corporate does not at all mean that you are giving up your dream job.

    Good luck! I’m so glad to have found your blog (via http://brenslifeafterlaundry.blogspot.com/) and look forward to following you :)

    • says

      Sarah- I will totally check out Quitter. It reminds me of The Work Revolution by Julie Clow, another great “you don’t have to hate your job” kind of book that shows the other side of the “jobs suck” debate and show how to make employment (and companies in general) better for workers.

      I totally get what you’re saying- I’m glad I have the freelancing skills I have. If anything did fall through, I know I could launch a business and turn a profit without having to freak out…I can pull myself up from my bootstraps and get through it just like I did when times were tight in graduate school.

      Thank you so much for the kind words and I’m excited to have you as a reader! I will check out your blog as well :)

  7. says

    I don’t see a downside in going corporate — you have an amazing business that you can scale down to part-time, and you have all these fresh skills in sociology that you need to implement. I say, apply away for the corporate jobs and know that you’re JUST FINE without them, which means you don’t have to take just any job that comes along.

    • says

      Thank you Kathleen! I hope that I’ll find the right fit soon- come companies have openly admitted that while they’re impressed with my resume, hiring a recent grad is a hard sell to their managers for the positions I’m after. You’d think that social media & online promotional jobs would be an ideal fit for a young self-starter that’s obsessed with blogging/social media, but they seem to be looking for someone with a degree in marketing (though I wish they even offered classes on social media!) I’m keeping an open mind and looking for a great company with similar values and objectives :)

  8. says

    Ugh, you’re at the intersection the Tough and Luck. Sometimes you need the “real world” experience of working for a company for others take you seriously. In addition, sometimes there’s a lot to be said about working with other people who have different experiences and ideas than you, as it helps you think it different ways.

    As for the boyfriend, all I can say is “Good Luck”! LDR’s stuck. I guess if he’s in Chicago I could keep an eye on him.

    Interestingly, I did just see this cute job application for community manager at Penguin books: http://impressapenguin.com/

  9. says

    Hey Shannyn,

    Speaking from a 9-5’er who works in personal finance, there are a lot of benefits of having a corporate job. You should do it for now to help do everything in your plan and in 5 or 10 years you can go back to being self employed. However I can tell you that after being corporate it’s a big decision to give up the stability of a 9-5 job and all of the benefits that come along with it. However there is nothing that can compare to the freedom of being your own boss.
    Good Luck!

  10. sarah says

    I would say trust your gut and make sure that your ass is covered. If you’re feeling nervous figure out where it’s coming from, just that lizard brain fear we all have, or if you’re picking up on a serious red flag.

  11. says

    So much great advice- thank you everyone for your wisdom, experiences and honesty! This is why I love blogging, you can get a variety of opinions and advice from a variety of perspectives, love it!

  12. says

    There’s no reason you can’t continue to build your business while still applying for those jobs. I applied for months and months, and finally decided on focusing on my own solo thing when I was offered a position. It’s like running – repetition will bring success eventually! And it seems like once you’re focused on one thing, the other part will just appear.

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years, and we’ve been long-distance for half of it. Not to discourage you (more just nice to find someone to suffer along with,) but it doesn’t get easier until you know there’s an end point :\

  13. says

    There is hope for me yet! I’ve applied to a few solid jobs, got interviews (in some cases several interviews) but again and again, my age/experience level was an issue- and until I make progress and get hired, there’s not much I can do to fix that. I just applied for a new position that makes my heart skip a beat, I hope I hear back… hopefully though, I don’t have to hit 300!! eek!

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