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How I Survived Stepping Into the Unknown

Here's how I managed to stay afloat after a cross-country career move and eventually grow and soar in my career and life.

How I Survived Stepping Into the Unknown
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A little more than two years ago, I touched down in Boston, Massachusetts with two oversized suitcases, a hiking backpack, a pillow, and a scared look on my face.

I had packed up my belongings and purchased a one-way ticket to the east coast from Reno, Nevada. There, I had worked as an in-house director of marketing, where I had worked since graduating from the University of Nevada three years prior.

I had taken a job as a social media strategist at a digital marketing agency in Boston.

I was stepping into the unknown – a new coast, a new city, agency life, and a new specialty.

And I was scared.

Two years later, I’m happy to report that I am the senior manager of social media at the same agency, have made numerous professional and personal connections in a new market, and, most importantly, am able to call Boston home.

Stepping into the unknown was scary. But it paid off.

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Changing from in-house to agency, moving from east to west and from a smaller to larger city was all a massive adjustment, as any marketer or person in general would expect, but I stayed afloat. And, in fact, I thrived!

But it didn’t all happen over night.

There was a lot of lead up to my big move into the unknown.

I had to decide I was ready for the challenge long before I stepped foot on that plane.

First and foremost, I had to decide that this was what I really wanted and then I had to go for it with all I had and without hesitation.

It wasn’t easy but I am glad I stuck with it.

Here’s how my journey played out, if you may be contemplating a big life/work shift yourself. You may find it helpful to hear my story and know that great success can come from facing great fears.

Get the Job

When it comes to getting a job across the country, in a new market, or really, getting a job in general – persistence and consistency are the keys.

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I had to truly want it.

Persistence

It took me about 18 months of applying to jobs in Massachusetts to finally find one that fit for both the employer and for myself.

Staying persistent in my search (e.g., applying to several jobs a week and following up promptly) was what got me there.

Too often, I’ve seen job seekers give up too soon, right before they most likely would have found that perfect fit. I didn’t want to let this happen to me so every time it seemed like time to give up, I instead decided to keep going.

I found it helpful to set a schedule for myself. I treated my job search as a second job.

As I was looking to relocate, showing potential employers that I was ready and willing to move was an important element that I’m certain helped to set me apart as well.

Consistency

The other key piece to the puzzle when job searching is consistency.

Keeping my resume, LinkedIn, website and portfolio, and references up to date was a priority to ensure that I was always ready when a new opportunity presented itself.

I was mindful of the importance of maintaining my personal brand and keeping it consistent. Portraying what I was looking for, what experience I had, and what characteristics or values I could bring to the table.

Writing about my industry, career, or life in general and sharing this with my network really helped to show that I am active and care about my work. LinkedIn and Twitter are my personal favorites to share my own articles, and industry articles and insights.

Participating in speaking engagements or attending events has also helped me to expand my network and my brand and helped to show my potential employers that I was a trusted authority as well as well entrenched in the industry.

Stay Organized, Stay Confident

Once I got the job and first started in agency life, I was overwhelmed.

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I quickly realized that staying organized, even if it meant working a little longer, was what was going to propel me forward and contribute to my success.

I knew that I needed to create a tool chest to aid me in my quest for ultimate organization and preparedness and to help me have the confidence that I needed to experience success in my new venture.

Week Prep

I began to use either end of day Friday, or an hour or so on Sundays to get organized for the week.

I checked in on my clients, my personal career goals, my team, and anything else I had going on.

I outlined my agenda for the week as thoroughly as possible.

I continue to do this still and I can’t tell you how much getting prepared for the week has helped me to stay on top of my game, and transition from in-house to agency work specifically.

My Calendar

Something that I also found beneficial, is “timeboxing.” This is a practice in which you block off times for specific tasks or projects on your calendar.

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Timeboxing allows for ultimate time management, keeps me freed up to tackle important projects, and ensures that I am remaining on task.

For example, I have about 15 minutes a morning blocked off to read through industry news and explore social media platform changes in order to ensure my clients are ahead of the game.

I feel I should note the importance to calendar wisely! I have found that more often than not, it will fill up with meetings you didn’t plan if you don’t.

Mentally Prep

Lastly, mentally preparing myself for the switch to a more fast-paced environment was so important, as generally speaking (and not in all cases), agencies can be a bit quicker in the speed of the work than in-house.

I have learned that truly understanding what I am signing up for, taking a gulp of coffee, and saying “yes” has been important to my success.

If I can feel prepared, organized, and ultimately, confident in what I am doing, I am better able to focus on the work itself.

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Say ‘Yes’

Beginning a new position (specifically in the agency world but really in any professional realm) was scary for sure. It presented me with many new challenges.

I found that saying “yes” and learning as much as I could was critical to my success.

I had to (and continue to) take on a new projects, step out of my comfort zone, offer to help when I can, and better yet, show that I am invested in the job by giving more of my time than is expected when I am able.

Whenever I am presented with the offer to attend industry events or conferences, or even online webinars, the answer is yes!

These opportunities always offer ways to improve your work ethic, meet new people, explore the industry and what it has to offer as a whole and try new tools and ideas.

Take the Leap, Adjust as Needed

The marketing industry has a vast amount of different areas, and evolving our careers is something we as marketers are lucky enough to get to do.

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As much as it can feel overwhelming and scary at times it’s amazing to be able to consider the many different options that are out there and get excited about what it is we do each day.

I think the most important thing I learned in this transition in my career and life, was how important it is to fight self-doubt and take the leap before you think you are ready.

I questioned myself every step of the way.

When I landed in Boston, I nearly turned right back around.

But I took the leap. I stepped off the plane. I stayed here.

With a lot of hard work, a lot of persistence, a lot of faith and gratitude in my situation, and the strategies above, I was able to succeed and find happiness in a new role, a new city, and a new life.

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Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita

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Anastasia Warren

Senior Social Media Manager at KoMarketing

Anastasia Warren is a Senior Social Media Manager at KoMarketing Associates and writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. Thoughts and opinions ... [Read full bio]

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