Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to read my last post, “What to Do When Your Dream Job SUCKS.” It was great reading the comments both on the site and on Facebook. My initial plan was to blog about identifying your passion while working your trade; however, I felt led to share more of my personal story.
It’s May 2007 and life couldn’t be better. I just graduated from my illustrious alma mater with a full-time job AND a full scholarship to graduate school. In my mind, everything was going according to plan. I worked hard and completely sacrificed a social life in order to have these opportunities available to me. Headed to New York City, I would become one of less than twenty recent college graduates who would work as Summer Associates for MTV Networks. In addition to a paid gig, we’d all receive corporate housing, a stipend and countless opportunities to network with top executives across the company. For a small town girl from Vidalia, Georgia, a chance to live and work in NYC was the opportunity of a lifetime.
My very first day on the job, my supervisor offered me a full-time position beyond the initial summer contract. I sat in my manager’s office stunned as she—within minutes of meeting me—offered me the position of Programming Coordinator, a role many recent grads dreamed of. She even went as far to offer her spare bedroom until I could afford a place of my own. Mindful of my full ride to grad school, I nervously declined the offer and hurriedly made my way out of her office. This moment would plague me throughout the summer.
The rest of my time in NYC was interesting— meeting the awesomeness that is Christina Norman, working as a PA on a few major TV shows, tickets to the The Daily Show, and an opportunity to work on a really cool project with Comedy Central. I truly experienced every aspect of living and working in NYC. However, when August came, I was ready for my next chapter. With a total of three declined job opportunities, I packed up and headed back to ATL only to unpack, and then repack, for the 10-hour drive to Ohio. That September, my life as a grad student began.
Within 48 hours of arriving to campus, I instantly regretted my decision. The first day (literally the FIRST DAY) of orientation, my ethics professor handed us a stack of freshly printed syllabi…and a five chapter reading assignment. Jazzy, you left FOUR job offers for this? (Note: The fourth gig was an invitation to interview at Tyler Perry Studios—literally got the call the day I was leaving for Ohio.) As the quarter progressed, I sank deeper and deeper under journal articles, survey design and the dreaded SPSS.
Then one fateful day, as I struggled with statistical ANOVAs, I got a phone call that changed everything. MTV Networks just announced a mass layoff that would affect hundreds. Look. At. God. After making a few phone calls to make sure my former colleagues were okay, I couldn’t help but praise God for protecting me from what could have been a very terrible situation. I knew there was a nudge to leave NYC, but I allowed the frustrations and challenges of grad school cloud my truth. As I sat and contemplated what could have been versus what was actually happing, suddenly those ANOVAs didn’t seem so bad.
Although hundreds of miles away from NYC, I made sure to stay in contact with old employer.In my mind, once the economy rebounded in 2008 (ha!) I would move back and continue my mission to be the youngest VP of a cable network.
By the following summer, everything appeared to be moving in that direction. I successfully defended my thesis proposal, moved back to Atlanta and already had a lead on a position at my old company. It was an assistant role, but I knew I only needed a pinhole of opportunity to make it my own.
The interview itself was more so a call between colleagues than prospective employer and candidate. I updated them on what I had learned in grad school and most of the conversation was a discussion on trends and challenges with cable programming. I kept my car packed and ready because I just knew the job as mine. The call came alright, but instead of offering me a job, I was being told that they were unable to offer me the position. I was crushed. With really no insight into what happened, I thanked him for his time and hung up. I guess it was time to finally unpack my car.
I started work at the Apple Store and shortly after, began teaching part-time at a local arts college. I tried to make the best of it all but, in reality, it sucked. Jesus, this is not what we discussed. It wasn’t until my phone rang later that year that it all made sense. MTV Networks had just laid off 850 employees. Suddenly having two jobs and reduced rent at my dad’s place didn’t seem like such a bad thing. It was actually a blessing in disguise.
By now you should get the point of this entire blog post. I left Atlanta with my own plan of how my life should be— job in the City, graduate school, corporate takeover by 30— but God had a greater plan. Although I spent two frustrating years working two part-time jobs, I met people during that time that would drastically alter my career (and business) trajectory.
Teaching allowed me to realize my passion for student success, while working at Apple allowed me to connect with other creatives. The continued rejections from “my dream job” pissed me off enough to just start my own business. Relationships developed during this time even led to my company landing its very first long term, high net worth client. Look at God. And if you factor in my “gas pump meltdown” all of these instances were needed to position me for my purpose— to help frustrated millennials get “unstuck” in life and business.
Although this post has been super long (it’s been quite therapeutic), I definitely wanted to share the best advice I received along the journey.
Grow where you are planted.— Oshanda Kittles
When faced with continued adversity + frustration, our natural inclination is to do whatever it takes to improve our situation. Although I agree such initiative is imperative, God often wants us to sit still so that He can work in our lives. In our efforts to create a better tomorrow, we often miss the fact that God wants us “right here, right now.” Take a look around you and realize that there’s value in the soil. Grow where you are planted.
I’d love to hear from you about your own personal story and any revelations you’ve received along the way. Also, would you mind sharing this with your network? Thanks for reading :-)