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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Empty-Nest Chronicles: Time to Pursue That Dream Job

For the last 19 years my sole purpose in life was to take care of my children. Now that my youngest is on his way to college I'm twiddling my thumbs as to what to do next. Actually, I ask myself everyday - What can I do next in my career?

After four years of being a stay-at-home mom I realized that it wasn't a good fit with my independent personality I decided to return to college to earn my degree in a career that I knew I would thrive in. That decision was an important part of the plan to taking care of my family. I felt that it just wasn't safe with one parent being the sole provider.


After graduating with my degree in journalism, my purpose and the plan of being a financial contributor to my family, went on the emotional roller-coaster ride of life. Divorce, moving out, moving to a new city, landing a job in my field with health care benefits, and starting life over from scratch as a single parent was added to my plan. 

Every morning I would wake up with the mantra "I'm doing this for my babies." That restaurant serving and bartending job in Time Square, "I'm doing this for my children." The part-time waitressing gig I headed to after my full time financial reporting/managing editor position just to try to put a dent in my student loans, "I'm doing this for my kids." Moving from the city I love to the suburbs I detest, "I'm doing this to keep my children safe and to give them an opportunity at a great public school education." 

WAKE UP CALL

One day my boss gave me a wake up call after he saw an old resume tape of mine from my local TV reporting days. "Is that you? You even have the broadcast voice. If you're good at that, then what are you doing here?" The question caught me off guard and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. 

The truth is, pursuing my ideal dream job in journalism had to take a back seat and I had to put my children in the front seat. And compared to the local television news world financial journalism pays significantly more when you first get into the business. 

Now that I only have one more child who is about to finish high school the thought of getting back on track of my ideal career is front and center of my mind. "Should I pursue it? Should I go after my dream job of where I can help bring people's personal, inspirational, and compelling stories to life? Am I too far behind?


The journalism world has so many layers to it now. Print is almost dead. Broadcast journalism is more competitive than ever and almost everyone is heading to online media for their news and entertainment. Is there even a place for a person like me?" These are all the questions that I asked myself for months.


I'VE GOT SKILLS 

Luckily for me I've spent the last 10 years building my skills and branding myself as a multimedia journalist. Picking up a video camera to get an interview, shoot b-roll, writing the script for my voiceover, and sitting down to Final Cut Pro, or any editing software, comes as second nature for me.

Over the years, as a financial journalist, I learned how to write complex topics about the capital markets in long and short form for magazines and newspapers. I also know how take those stories and transform them for those who prefer to get their information online. I also understand the dynamics of sharing them on social media. 

GET BACK ON TRACK

In the beginning of 2014 I made a pact with myself to do whatever it takes to get back on the journey of where I want to be in my career. I started off by making a list of things I want in my traveling multimedia kit. The bag includes a video camera, tripod, lights, microphones, XLR cables and a bunch of other gadgets. Whatever I didn't know, I would ask the sales consultants at B&H or find a tutorial on YouTube. Ask me anything about lighting and I pretty much got it covered.

In November 2013, someone gave me the advice to create a website. "The name Tamika Cody has a nice ring to it. You should see if TamikaCody.com is available. If it is buy the domaine name then feature your writing clips, video packages and resume there," a board member from Society of Professional Journalist said to me after I introduced myself to him during a panel discussion. I locked in my name that very same night and started to work on my website for the next few months.

Then it was time to order business cards, create this blog and start to write, shoot and edit video stories. I made it a point to post at least one story a month while working on a plan to post twice a month, then three times a month to at least twice a week. 

The most important element to the plan was to pay/renew my membership dues for journalism organizations that I am either a part of or wanted to be a part of and head to their annual and regional conferences and take advantage of the networking opportunities that comes with it.

Eleven months into 2014 and I haven't broken the agreement I made with myself. I've prepped, I've invested in my career, and I've been networking with the right crowd in the digital journalism world. Now, I just have got to keep on knocking on those doors of opportunity until one opens. 

Are you an empty-nester ready to pursue your dream job? Share the steps you've taken in the comment box below or email your stories to astutestories@gmail.com.

- @TCsViews

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