As we all can attest, times have been trying. Graduating from university into the social and economic whirlwind caused by the COVID-19 pandemic felt like being shoved into a world of uncertainty, during what is already one of the most uncertain times in a young professional’s career.
Would I find a job? How would I find a job? I was already planning on finding employment outside of my degree field (which, according to this interesting, albeit dated, study is normal.), but that choice suddenly felt unrealistic, immature, and harrowing.
Anxieties were high and economic forecasts foretold a bleak job market on track to rival that of the early Great Recession. Coming out of university, I was unsure what the beginnings of a professional career would look like for me. Conversations with my older millennial advisors and confidants gave me insight into the plights they endured while entering the workforce during the Recession’s fallout. Some recounted horror stories filled with long bouts of unemployment, menial jobs far below their earning potential, and lifelong effects on home-ownership and marriage rates.
Then, suddenly — boom.
The job market is hot. Some sources are saying the hottest it’s been in decades, others allege it’s the hottest it’s ever been. As if by perfect timing, a peer of mine approaches me with a job opportunity. The non-profit he works for is partnering with a local web design agency. They were looking for a Black identified entry-level professional who’s interested in the digital marketing field. It was serendipitous; a hot job market, two interesting companies, and an excuse not to spend my twenties as someone’s IT manager all wrapped into one opportunity.
I applied for the position, the company contacted me, and we began to correspond. After a couple of interviews; one with The Blueprint Foundation (the non-profit) and another with Gravitate (our beloved agency), I was offered the position. It felt surreal.
I started my position as a Digital Strategist Resident (officially “Digital Coordinator”) in mid-September. I had a mixture of anticipation and nerves. I was told that the beginning of my tenure at the company would be mainly aiding and learning from the staff at Gravitate, while the latter months would focus on The Blueprint Foundation. The team had me jump right in. I was allowed to do a deep dive into the world of search engine optimization (SEO), learning the industry’s cutting-edge tools and methods from some truly great minds. If not for the choice guidance and much-needed hand-holding from my direct supervisor Steven, my coworker Gary, my account manager legend Megan, and the rest of the fun, supportive, and quirky Gravitate team I would have floundered. When I first started my SEO journey at Gravitate, I fumbled through Google Analytics like a hapless infant with a computer mouse. By the end of the residency, I felt competent and capable in my understanding of SEO. In a still-a-beginner-but-can-get-by-on-my-own sense.
The residency was further bolstered by opportunities to try my hand at web production by helping create The Blueprint Foundation’s new website, and at copywriting for some of our clients (including some articles for Animoto!).
Needless to say, I feel as though I acquired a great deal of professional experience while completing this residency. I now experience using SEO tools such as:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Data Studio
- Screaming Frog
On top of that, I was able to get experience using WordPress and Elementor, as well as Canva. And to put a cherry on the entire experience, I now have a portfolio of copy that I’ve written. Given my desire to pivot my career in that direction, that feels huge.
I’d be a liar to say that the level of immersion was not sometimes dizzying. My formal academic background is in the information systems field did little to aid me in the digital marketing space, aside from the occasional analytical SEO task. I routinely had an inescapable feeling of unease, a feeling that I never quite knew what I was doing. Despite this, the team always made me feel free and comfortable to make inquiries and ask for assistance as needed.
Gravitate, alongside Portland-based non-profit The Blueprint Foundation, offered me the opportunity to experience the digital marketing industry from the inside. Gravitate allotted me the freedom to try whatever I wanted — that was huge for me. Through Gravitate, I was able to dip my toe into the world of copywriting, a career field that allows me to indulge my writing hobby in professional spaces. For that, I am boundlessly grateful.
Frankly, the job market still seems scarily fickle to me; caught in a perpetual state of waxing and waning. Hot one month, cold the next. The COVID-19 pandemic still has me anxious about the ever-present possibility of calamity, of any kind, and of course, we all know about the climate stuff. (If you don’t, here’s a great place to start!) Nonetheless, I am confident in my personal career trajectory and feel well-equipped to find employment in the copywriting industry moving forward.
To conclude my retrospective, I would like to thank The Blueprint Foundation and Gravitate for allowing me the opportunity to work with and for them. If not for them, I may have had to spend this portion of my career wallowing half-heartedly in a more technical space. But because of these people, I have an opportunity to work in an industry that feels right for me — an opportunity I will always be thankful for.