People always talk about how Millennials are job hoppers, and I feel partly to blame. But in my defense, it wasn't always my choice.
After I graduated college a few years ago, I got a job at an employee benefits company. The pay was decent for a recent graduate, and my bosses were pretty cool. But I quickly realized I wasn't cut out for it, as I tried to set up the massive tents they used at events which happened almost weekly. So, I told them it wasn't a fit and I gave them a month's notice.
Fortunately, I had a part-time job for a vacation sales company that I was working on weekends, so I was able to get by on that income while searching for my next position. Total time at that position? Two months.
Not long after, I found my next gig. This job was interesting because it was contract. That means no benefits or taxes taken out. Young me had no idea how much this would suck.
Looking back, the company just wanted to take advantage of me and save a buck, which is totally illegal. But I learned some valuable lessons about taxes and working as an independent contractor. After working weekends for nearly a year with an hour commute each way, I was let go suddenly. All I was told was that there were communication issues. Total time? One year.
Next, I found a job as an account coordinator an advertising agency. After less than a year there, the agency decided to pivot to consulting only. So, no more need for an agency, really. During those last few months, I showed my value and got a decent raise. Once the agency officially closed a few months later, I was back on the market looking for a job. Total time? Nine months.
I then freelanced for a couple months for my old agency, helping my former boss with social media. I quickly realized I wasn't comfortable pitching new clients and securing new business, so I accepted a job at another advertising agency. I loved the team there.
A few months in, I told my boss that I was still freelancing, and I convinced him to give me a raise so I could say goodbye to my one freelance client. Half a year later, my team lead left, and I stated my case on why I should be the new team manager. They gave me a promotion and raise.
That position had the most growth for me, as I increased my income by $15,000 in one year. And although I loved the team there, I didn't like the lack of work-life balance and the long commute. My friend sent me a job only three miles from my house, and I applied. Total time? 1 year.
The next agency gave me a nice salary boost, but my time there was pretty short-lived. I never really felt like I was a great fit there, but I planned to stick it out for as long as I could so I didn't look like a job hopper.
I wanted to make money in my free time to pay off debt and save for a house. With a better work-life balance, I was able to work on my website and set up my profiles on a few different freelance sites. A few months later, I got my first freelance client. A month later, I secured another. And then another. And another. After only six months at the agency, I had enough clients to supplement my income and start freelancing full time.
I had a tough choice to make, but ultimately I felt like I needed to go with my gut. Which was starting my own business and throwing myself head first into freelancing. Total time at that position? 11 months. (Yes, I stayed for four months after giving notice!)
So there you have it. After four years in the workforce, I increased my salary by $25,000. But salary isn't everything, of course. What I really craved was knowledge. Through these multiple positions, I worked with 20+ clients across many industries, learning about account management, public relations, reputation management, SEO, digital marketing, project management and more.
I wish I could go back and do some things over, but the truth is that I've made some amazing professional connections. I almost never burned bridges, and I value each and every position I've had for the lessons they taught me. So, if you get anything from this article, it's take more chances in your career. I'm not saying be a job hopper, but always be looking for something more.