Career Q&A

I don't remember what I wanted to be when I was child, but I do remember a conversation I had with a woman in an aerobics class my senior year of high school. She asked what I wanted to study in college and I told her I wasn't sure. She then asked what I was good at and what I liked. I said I enjoyed meeting people and talking ; ). She proceeded to describe her role which was in marketing. A light went off, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

Today I'm sharing a look in to my career background and answering questions I've been asked recently about career planning and the job search process!

I attended Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX and got my BBA in marketing. During my last semester I began to take MBA courses, and ended up graduating with my master's a year and a half after I received my undergraduate degree. There were a few reasons I went straight in to my masters degree. 1.) I was still enjoying learning/education and I wasn't burnt out 2.) HSU gave me a locked in tuition rate from when I started in 2006

My first job out of college was an Account Executive at a Fox Radio Station and I absolutely hated it and lasted 4 months. I learned very quickly I was NOT a sales person. I then took an Office Administrator role for the Community Foundation of Abilene and took MBA courses at night. I will say having an MBA with pretty much no experience made it tough to find an entry level marketing job, because they thought I was too qualified with a masters degree.

After I graduated in 2011 I moved to Austin and accepted a role as the Marketing Manager for a local tequila company, Republic Tequila. I loved my role and my job duties, but I ended up leaving about a year later after Turner was born. Read why here.

Turner was about a month old when I started looking for a new job. I remember one interview at a plastic surgeon's office I actually took Turner with me...bahaha, what was I thinking?! I was actually offered the job, but I didn't think it was a good fit. After months of searching I decided to apply at State Farm because I had a family friend who worked there and advised I should come on as a claim rep and then try to get in to the marketing department. At that point I was desperate for a job. I ended up getting the job, and I stayed in the role for a little over a year. It was very frustrating to see my resume sway from what I wanted to do, but I kept my eye on the prize! I networked like crazy, job shadowed and pursued development opportunities hoping to get my foot in the door with the marketing team. I interviewed for about 6 different jobs before I landed a marketing role (Marketing Coordinator of the Customer Strategy team). I actually took a demotion to move in to the marketing department, but it didn't matter to me. My goal was to be doing corporate marketing for State Farm, and I finally did it!

I stayed in that role for about 2 years, and when I was ready to advance I interviewed multiple times within State Farm but I was beat out in the final round every time. It was heart breaking, and after months of rejection I decided it was time to move on from State Farm. My childhood best friend worked at Big Red and told me they were looking for an associate marketing manager. I submitted my resume and began the interview process, and a few weeks later I accepted the job. My twins were about 8 months old during that time, and I was mostly working from home while at State Farm. It was a big change having to make a 45 minute commute everyday, but we made it work!

While at Big Red I worked on the brand XYIENCE and about a year later I was promoted to be the Marketing Manager of Hydrive. A few months in to the role I actually began my search for a new role outside the company. I won't go in to detail, but it just wasn't the right fit for me any more. It was a good thing I started looking because it took me 4 months to land the right role and during that time Big Red announced they had been bought by Keurig.

So here I am in my new role, Business Partner Co-Marketing Program Manager at IBM. Say that five times fast! I'm absolutely LOVING the culture, my co-workers and the leadership. Honestly, my goal is to retire at IBM. There is an incredible amount of opportunity in the Austin office which has over 500 marketing employees, and it's less than 12 miles from my home.

I've had lots of career questions so here are a few I can answer!

I go all in when I interview for a job. I imagine what my days would look like there, how it will shape my overall career, where it will take me in the future and how it could benefit my family. There are some jobs I've interviewed for that I haven't been as excited about as others, so when I'm denied the role I'm not as upset. However, when I don't get the job I REALLY desire it's heartbreaking. When I do face that situation I allow myself to be upset, cry if I need to, and then I move on. My unhappiness in my current job gives me the motivation to keep applying and pushing! I remember getting a rejection call from a recruiter from a company I had just done a final interview with (this was the 5th round), and I was so upset. I cried, got angry, vented to my husband and friends and then I got back online and applied for two new jobs. It's amazing how getting an email from a recruiter showing interest in your resume will immediately give you a boost of confidence and regenerate your spirit!

Thankfully my company was pretty easy going about taking time off when you needed, and I didn't have to take vacation time when I was out of office for a couple of hours. I did most of my phone interviews in my car during my lunch break, and tried to schedule my in person interviews very early in the morning or later in the afternoon. I continued to work hard in my role and didn't show signs of wanting to leave.

Assuming you know what career change you want I would first identify the experience needed to get in to that new career/role. Do you need a special certification, additional schooling or knowledge of a specific tool such as Adobe Illustrator for designers? Take classes online or at night, intern, ask someone you might now in that field to give you some advice on how to get started. Network, network, network. Find people in the industry and career you're hoping to move in to and begin to learn from them. Go to industry events and meet as many people as you can. I know it's hard changing career paths, but life is too short to stay in a career you don't enjoy. Some career changes might take longer than others, but the passion will come if you have a goal in mind that is worth your time and effort.

There have been many times after I had children I've leaned in to my career and also leaned out. When my twins were just 5 months old I was interviewing like crazy at State Farm, and then when they were 8 months old I left State Farm to go to Big Red. It was VERY tough, but I was passionate enough about making a change so I made it work! I stayed up late prepping for interviews, I traveled with my new role a few times and my husband was able to pick up the slack, and I didn't take much vacation. I highly recommend reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.

In the middle of my resume I have "Licensed Insurance Adjuster" during my time at State Farm. I hated having this on my resume, and felt it completely screwed me over. I don't regret taking the position because it's what was best for our family at the time, but it was tough trying to pull myself out of that role. While handling car accidents isn't even close to what I'm doing now, if an interviewer asked me about the role I honed in on a skill set that could apply for the role I was interviewing for.

While in that non marketing role, I continued to blog as a way of building my marketing skill set. The past seven years it's been a side hobby, but over time I realized it would help my career. When I was hired on to work at Big Red they wanted my social media expertise. I hadn't done social in most of my previous roles, but because I could show examples of how I was doing it for my blog I was able to land the job.

I received quite a few questions about interviewing so I'll be dedicating a full blog post to that one soon! If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me at jessercoulter@gmail.com or leave a comment. Thanks for reading and good luck in your career journey!

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