I Launched a Marketing Career After 4 Years of Trying to Figure it All Out

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If there’s one thing that’s becoming clear to me with each new career story, it’s that one’s college major is rarely indicative of one’s professional path.

This is certainly true for Charlie Deese, an apprentice at Digital Creative Institute who’s well on her way to becoming a digital marketing director, despite the fact she studied medicine, health, and society in undergrad and audiology in graduate school.

Interestingly enough, yet perhaps unsurprising, is that before she landed in marketing, Deese spent time in such wide-ranging fields as psychopharmacology, audiology, and education.

She might’ve gotten here sooner, but, well, there was that stint working in rural elementary schools in Texas, the year spent in a speech pathology program, and the one studying the effects of cocaine at the University of Kentucky. All told, it was four years before Deese discovered work she found fulfilling.

What her varied experiences ultimately taught Deese “after a brutal year of growing as a person and acknowledging my true passions were outside of healthcare,” was that you don’t give up trying to find your passion. You don’t abandon the idea of finding the job that clicks. When Deese found work in the marketing department at a small startup in Tucson, she finally knew that “content marketing was a perfect fit.”

Here’s her story:
It Took You Four Years After College to Find a “Path That Clicked With You”—Can You Describe This Feeling?

I think everyone has different drivers when it comes to their careers. For me, I found out the hard way that having a career that gave me purpose was essential to my happiness.

Having worked in a variety of industries, I’d occasionally feel a connection with a task or project, but never on a total level. It always felt like it didn’t entirely fit.

When I first began working in a marketing role, that feeling of fit intensified for the first time in my life. While the role [at the startup] wasn’t perfect, I could tell I was finally onto something important. The real difference for me was the opportunity to be continuously creative, which I realized had been a constant all those times I felt a passing fit in other positions.

If You Could Go Back and Switch Your College Major, Would You?

No. I think an interdisciplinary approach to education is highly important and widely undervalued. Do I use my background in medicine, health, and society every day? No, but it exposed me to unique cultures and perspectives I would’ve been otherwise unaware of.

And part of what makes me successful as a digital marketer is my ability to understand variable perspectives and create content geared to any audience—my psychology degree was essential to developing that skill as well. In fact, psychology has proven to be a relevant knowledge base when evaluating how to create a marketing plan that connects with both leads and clients.

Do You Think You’ll Stay on This Path for the Foreseeable Future?

I think I’ve found my professional home within digital marketing. Participating in this apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to carve out my niche while learning about new strategies and methods.

I also want to take the momentum I gained by actively learning and networking throughout program into my new role as the marketing director at SPS DGTL. Being proactive with my career growth has been a huge takeaway from the program, and feels very natural to me now.

How Have Your Post-College Experiences Helped Shape You in Terms of Where You Are on Your Current Path?

In hindsight, graduate school wasn’t the right choice for me, but without making that mistake I probably wouldn’t have found marketing in the way I did—if at all. I think the wrong turns and scenic routes along the way all led me to this point.

Just because you explore different industries doesn’t mean you walk away without having gained applicable skills or experiences for something else. There are many useful parallels between previous positions that boosted my skill set when I entered marketing.

 If There’s One Piece of Career Advice You Could Give to Others Struggling to Figure it Out, What Would it Be?

Let go of what you think you “should” do. I followed “should” for a long time—I “should” go to graduate school, I “should” go into a medical field, I “should” just ignore that I’m unhappy— none of that matters.

What really matters is what brings you joy. Once I broke free of what people said I should be and what I thought others wanted to me to be, I was able to follow my gut and find a career that felt right for me.

Think about what matters most to you—for me, that was creativity, autonomy, and flexibility. I’m sure there are other career paths that would fit me just as well, but marketing hit home when I felt the most lost in my career. I was lucky to have stumbled upon it, but I had built up experiences in other industries that helped me break into a new industry and hit the ground running. So, don’t feel like the search for your ideal career is a waste of time. It might just be what sets you apart.

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