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Thursday, August 4, 2011
Generation J Toolbox

By Jenn Rowell

Lately, Iíve been reading a lot about happiness and making major life changes. Perhaps itís because thatís the kind of thing Iíve been doing lately, so I want to read about other people doing it.

Maybe itís crazy, maybe itís too abstract to be constructive, but at the same time, most of the books have been written by people at least 10 years older than me. At some point, they realized something wasnít working and made a change. Iíd like to think that by at least thinking about these things at 27, Iím on the right track.

After a recent job interview, I realized that it was the first one in which I didnít feel particularly nervous. I was prepared, familiar with the organization and the requirements for the job, but the interview was more of a conversation. For the first time, I really applied the idea that I was interviewing them to decide if the job and organization were the right fit for me.

Some of you may remember that in December, I wrote a Gen J blog post about quitting my job in Alabama without another job lined up and moving back to Virginia. Was it risky? Sure. Did it work out? Yes.

Thing is, I did it again.

That job I got on the fly in the D.C. area got me back to Virginia, let me pay rent and get settled, but it was awful. The commute was crushing my soul; the job itself was making me miserable and was doing very little to advance my career. On some days I was literally being paid to twiddle my thumbs, and a fellow editor was snoring at his desk.

So once again, I did it the crazy way and quit.

For about a month and a half, Iíve been freelancing and consulting non-profits on social media and all around winging it.

For most of my professional career, Iíve needed a job. I needed to get hired just to get my career started. I was young with less experience and training, and so I was at the mercy of the person doing the hiring. But after a month of winging it on my own, I realized that while I need income, I donít necessarily need a traditional full-time job. There were a lot of things I could do with my journalism skills, and Iíve been making it work. Itís also been very enlightening to realize all the things I can do with those skills, especially once I figured out where I wanted to direct my energies.

As a young journalist, I wanted to do everything and anything, and do it well. After a time ó a short time ó I settled on military reporting and have continued to refine that. Instead of going after jobs just because I needed a job and income, I started focusing on jobs I actually wanted.

Thereís a quote Iíve come to love and though I only just found it, it captures the concept Iíve figured out the past few months or so.

ďFind your purpose and fling your life out to it. Find a way or make one. Try with all your might. Self-made or never made.Ē ó Orison Swett Marden

Itís one of those things that people may tell you, but you have to get there yourself, in your own way, through your own experience. But I will say, itís valuable to start figuring out what you want now so that you can shape your career around that versus always putting off whatís most important to you for later.

While writing this column, I was offered and accepted that job.

Jenn Rowell is the social media manager at the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed. Previously, she edited two military technology magazines in the D.C. area and was the military reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama. She also freelances for various publications on military/veterans issues and works with several non-profits on their social media efforts. On Twitter: @jenn822

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