When I was a little girl I went through several “when I grow ups,” announcing a new aspiration every few months. I always knew I would be a mom, but I also knew I was going to have a career. This history lesson focuses on the professional side of my life. Perhaps one day I’ll tell you the story of how I got together with Mr. Awesome and then grew the munchkins, but today is about my work life.
I was going to be a teacher, but that was fairly short lived. I was going to be a nurse until I found out they had to clean poop (Ha, look at me now!). I was going to be a flight attendant until one day I watched just how hard they work during a flight and the romance of free travel disappeared. For a long time I was going to be a lawyer, but then the reality of seven years in university hit and that dream fizzled too.
At around the age of sixteen I decided I was going to be an actress. I had always loved the theatre and movies, and this was no passing career fancy. I was serious. I sat my parents down and explained my plan. I had thought it through and presented them with reasons, strategies, budgets, the whole shebang (I don’t know how to spell that, but now I have William Hung singing “She Bangs! She Bangs!” in my head. Awesome.) I registered for acting classes outside the standard high school drama program. I got a (not very good) agent, and went on a few auditions. After high school I continued with the acting classes, and then when I was nineteen I left home for theatre school just outside of Montreal. I was there for three years and it was phenomenal.
When I graduated and came home in 1998, my school friend Trace moved out to Vancouver and we started our own theatre company. Horned Moon Productions existed for five years and produced six shows, never losing a dime. For producing small theatre in Vancouver, this is a fairly big deal. I acted in two of Horned Moon’s shows, co-directed one and produced all of them. It was always in my “spare time,” and I loved it. To pay the rent, I was working in the box office at two professional theatre companies. I kept auditioning, but for theatre only this time, not film. Actually, at one point I was convinced I was going to join Cirque du Soleil as a character actor, and even went so far as to audition for them. Let’s just say it didn’t work out and leave it at that.
It took me a while to fully admit it, but I found I got almost as big a “high” from producing and marketing the shows as I did acting in them (probably the control freak in me). This was a difficult realization as I had committed so much time and a sizable chunk of my parents’ money into the acting thing, but I finally succumbed to the allure of a regular paycheck and not being rejected on a regular basis.
I got the opportunity to join the marketing department at one of the theatre companies I was working for. It was a full time job instead of the part-time and seasonal work I’d been doing, and represented a mind shift for me. It was a “real” job, not just something to “support my acting.” It was official. Acting was to be something I did on the side, when I had the time. If I had the time. The more involved I got on the marketing side of things, the more I loved it, and the less time I made for the acting.
When my dad died I took some time off and eventually decided to go back to school for “something in marketing.” From my observation of my colleagues, PR seemed to be a good fit and I registered for an eight-course program in public relations at BCIT. I also started volunteering in promotions at a local radio station.
It’s so funny how things work out. Looking back, my life has a very clear line to where I am today, at least professionally. Join me on this jaunt down my career path, won’t you?
- I began to get more work with the radio station. I didn’t have a minute of broadcast experience, but all of a sudden I’m doing traffic reports and then spotting bumper stickers as “Christine the Prize Queen,” thanks in large part to my acting and voice training.
- One of my teachers at BCIT hired me as Communications Coordinator for her PR firm. We did the PR for Cirque du Soleil’s first two tours to Vancouver and my dream of working for Cirque was finally realized.
- After a couple of years I left that job for a promotions position with the radio station. It was actually a step back, but radio promotions has something seductive about it and jobs in Vancouver don’t come along that often. I needed to find out if that was where I was supposed to be. It turns out my heart is there, but my pocketbook is not. There also isn’t any room for advancement in the market and being the overachiever I am, I eventually needed to move on.
- My experience with both the PR job and in radio promotions landed me a position as “Western Regional Marketing Manager” for a national restaurant chain. (This may in part have to contributed to my weight gain!) The experience was phenomenal and I grew leaps and bounds in my knowledge and confidence. I went on my first maternity leave and while I was gone things began to change. As with many Canadian companies with head offices in Toronto, things began to “move East,” taking on a national spin. As the Western REGIONAL Marketing Manager, I saw the writing on the wall. I knew I would have to start looking for something else, but wasn’t sure where to start given that I was on leave and learning to be a mom. (And, yes, I was right – the position did disappear within six months of me giving my notice.)
- I had kept in touch with my BCIT teacher/former boss and when the little man was about two months old I went to her home for tea and to introduce them. She asked me about my job, how things were changing, etc and I suddenly got the sneaking suspicion she had something up her sleeve. (I should probably insert here that she was working as the Director of Communications for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Region. Sound familiar?) It turns out that her marketing manager had given notice the day before (what are the odds?!) and she suggested rather strongly that I apply. I had LOVED working for her and not only did CBCF sound amazing, but I would get the chance to work with her again.
So there you have it. In five “easy” steps we reach today. I am NOT an actress. I am the marketing manager for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Region. But somehow it all seems to make perfect sense.
I am right where I am supposed to be.
This post was written for the Bloggy Moms July 2010 Blog Challenge. You can read other submissions here.