The recession hit home pretty hard for a lot of marketing and advertising professionals. Many executives, graphic designers and writers have been out of work for over a year with no end in sight. However, the recession has created opportunity for some of these professionals in varying areas. Is it safe to say that we have grown as a society as a result of our current economic climate?
The recession of 2009 has taught me a lot of things, things I will (hopefully) never forget. I try to share some of these insights. I talk about myself a lot in this blog, and that is just fine because - guess what? It's my blog.
I grew up in a north side suburb of Chicago. I am the only daughter born to immigrants; a professional father and a super hot, stay at home, wonder-mom. I was raised in a small house with a big backyard. I was raised to believe that one day I would marry and live happily ever after in my own home raising my own family. I went to college, I majored in PR and was active in extra-curricular activities. After I graduated, I backpacked through Europe like a good 20-something American girl. I got my first job working for a big ad agency as an Account Executive. A few years later, I bought my condo in downtown Chicago. Everything seemed to be right on track until…the post September 11th recession of 2002. That was the first bump in the road that threw me off my not-so-chosen track. A path I felt I was entitled to yet a path I likely never really wanted.
For me, times have been consistently changing since 2002. Times have also been changing in the work force and in the world from a general standpoint. My existence has taken a turn in the 00s. All of the things I thought I wanted, I realized it was not what I really wanted. I left the agency world and worked on the client side for a very corporate, very large professional services firm in Event Marketing. Shortly thereafter, I made another move, I took a job in Catering Sales and Event Management for a 12,000 square foot, trendy venue. This felt like home for a time being and brought me a nice income, great friends and colleagues. After four years, I left to take yet another path. I spent six months working as a recruiter in the Marketing & Advertising field.
My friends and family BEGGED me not to take the job as a recruiter but I am forever grateful for that job. It was while I worked as a recruiter that I really saw that the marketing and advertising industry was heading in a totally different direction. I could stand back and examine what employers were looking for from candidates and where their businesses were going. Online advertising and marketing was growing, it was blowing up. When the market tanked, I was let go, and at the time, it felt like I had failed. Today, I feel like my short time period as recruiter was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Times Are Changing
Fast forward to today, almost a year after I was laid off. I am now...a recessionista (to use an overused term). I really am. I have gone from being the ultimately consumer, the quintessential city girl, the fine dining spendthrift...to the recessionista. Which is what I probably should have been all along!
I reeled in my spending - big time. I stopped shopping for unnecessary items, I stopped buying more than I needed. I still shop at Whole Foods, I still buy a lot of the same brands that I used to purchase, I just buy them on sale and I buy them ONLY when I need them. I used to dine out two to three times a week, that has changed. I started cooking, I shop for fresh groceries, I go to the farmer's market and I make great dishes. I still dine out but I visit less expensive restaurants and I have discovered various new neighborhoods in Chicago in an effort to find great new, less expensive restaurants. I went back into my closet and I pulled out classic items I have not worn in years and I wear them. I recycled my old jewelry in an effort to feel like I have something new.
Other Things I have Changed in the Face of the Recession:
- I met with a career coach to help me determine what direction I should be taking
- I started a business where I deliver marketing services to small businesses. This has helped me a) earn an income and b) keep my skills sharp and c) learn new skills
- I started this blog so I could learn a bit about how all this works. I wanted a place to practice this skill so I could blog for clients. I have written useful articles on various topics, here is one about things to do when you've been laid off. .
- I looked on the job boards and noticed what jobs were out there. I wanted to know what practices companies were using to market and advertise themselves.
- I printed out job descriptions and taught myself how to do everything on each of the job descriptions. I then practiced the learned points with my clients (if I felt they needed them).
- I turned to Twitter and other Social Media outlets to make new professional connections - both on/off line and I continue to learn from these new connections.
- I bring people together. In the last year, I have hosted two "happy hours" and in two weeks, I am hosting my first TweetUp or networking event.
The Feel Good Recession
As opposed to the recession of 2002, the recession of 2009 is a "warm" recession. A feel-good recession. People are spending more time at home, with family and friends and getting to know each other - really know each other. People are more supportive of one another - both psychologically and literally. Many of my friends have had to move in with friends and/or family because the cannot afford their homes anymore. Nearly everyone I have met who has bit hit by the recession has been kind to one another and helped them in anyway that they are able.
Why I Thank the Recession and What You Too Can
- Thank you for the new skills. I do things on trade, especially, if it includes learning a new skill. I have time, if I can get something in return OR if I can learn a new skill, why wouldn't I do it?
- Thank you for giving me a new, stronger voice. I ask for things. If I need something, whether it is a job or a service or a discount, I simply ask for it. The worst anyone can say is "no".
- Thank you for teaching me to appreciate what I have. I do not take money for granted. I used to think, I can always make more money. These days, I have more respect for money. I know exactly where my money is going and I look for new ways to save it.
- Thank you for showing me how lucky I have been in life. I respect work and the work I am given. I realize how incredibly lucky I am for the jobs I had in the past, I love what I am doing right now and I really look forward to the work I will be doing in the future.
- Thank you for showing me that the world is changing. I am embracing change. I am not afraid of the changing face of our workforce. It has NOT been easy to set up a business and I don't like that it has been foreign and uncomfortable but I am working hard to embrace the change. I am not fighting the change and I am making the absolute best of it.
- Thank you for showing me that I am loved by my friends. My friends have really stepped up to the plate and given me air miles so I can take a trip. Friends who have offered up their couches so I can stay there while meeting with potential new clients in other cities. Friends who have picked up dinner when I could not.
- Thank you for giving me this time with my family. My dad is one of my clients, I spend one day a week at his office working on his e-newsletter, building his email list and working on his web marketing. In the past few months, I have really gotten to know my dad better and I love every minute I get to spend with him.
I think as Americans, we have grown as a society during the recession of 2009. I think we have become more responsible as adults. We recognize that we need to go back to the hard working people we once were and that we are not entitled to anything. We are relying less on our employers to take care of us, we realize that we must control our own future. We spend more time with people we love and spend less money on things we do not need. I think we also truly appreciate each other and we have become a more charitable and more compassionate society.