I gotta tell ya, I am pretty confused as to what to do with my life right now, so I can't tell you what I am going to do in five years, just what I am planning for the next five months. I always had lots of plans but just as many excuses as to why I am not pursuing them. (By the way H - I asked for the book you recommended for Christmas, if I don't get it, I will buy it myself.)
First I lived in Austria. I didn't like it there and it's tough to get into the (to me) interesting fields of the entertainment industry or Arts. Austria is based on something we call "Freundlwirtschaft" - The economy of friendship also called "Vitamin B" (Beziehungen) which basically means if you have friends or family who can get you in, you get in.
I first noticed that after I got my degree in Marketing when I was still living in Austria. I applied to about 25 Marketing agencies for an internship and I got invited to one interview. I didn't get the job.
Another marketing agency sent me a list of questions to answer. One questions was "One of your clients likes to chew on coca leaves. Since they contain cocaine they are illegal in Austria, how do you make sure he gets them anyway?". Another question was "Your client needs a curl of hair from the American president for an auction. How do you get it?".
I thought I was very clever in answering those questions but didn't even get invited to an interview.
A girl who went to the same school I went to, two years younger than me, obviously had not done her degree yet, had parents whose friends were friends with somebody at Saatchi&Saatchi (a famous advertising agency). She got a job there without interviewing or even preparing an application. And I saw a lot of those friendship deals happen around me.
My mother's friends were people who sold herb pillows and homemade candles at flea markets, so I knew I would run into some troubles pursuing a career in Vienna relying on the Vitamin B. To be fair, that was only one of the reasons why I left Austria.
Then, in Holland, I of course had the problem of the language. At that point I was not really interested in a career in advertising anymore. I got really into Photography and I took a few classes. I thought, that's something I am pretty good at and it's something I am passionate about. Maybe this could be my path. I met a lot of people working in the field. It was an exciting time where I got to hang out in the "scene" and get inspired by other creative people. However, I soon noticed that if you come to Amsterdam as a foreigner and you are not already an established Artist, you don't stand a chance to make it. I met quite a few trained photographers who were working in call centers because the Dutch only wanted to work with the Dutch. Unless of course - you were famous already. But getting an internship with a Dutch photographer - impossible.
Anyway, I did take up classes with the New York Institute of Photography last year. It's a correspondence course that teaches you everything you need to know to become a Photographer. You also have to do assignments and and technical knowledge tests.
Back to the original topic - so I am here in Chicago now and a world is opening up to me. I have no excuse to not follow my dreams anymore and to be honest it is a bit freaky and quite a bit overwhelming.
I have thought long and hard about it and have come to the conclusion that I need to use the next 5 months to make up my mind what I want to do with my life. And to do this I have to do the following things:
a) Get busy with my Photography studies - I need to get back into it, get the passion back
b) Find a job - I know I said I am afraid I end up in some kind of job I don't like but I really need to have a steady job. You need a reason to get up in the morning. So I decided to look for an administrative part-time job. Something where I don't have to answer the phone, or at least very rarely and nothing that includes the term "customer-service" unless it's very minimal and has nothing to do with complaint handling. Given the economic situation here right now, I know it won't be an easy task. More than half a million Americans lost their jobs in 2008 and I don't know why I would be better for a job than any of them. So I might not find a job immediately ...
c) Get back to the gym. I am most focused when I work out. I feel strong and confident when I am physically strong. I want to lift weights again and run on a treadmill until I feel dizzy. I found a gym not too far which sounds perfect, I will join beginning January and try to walk as much as I can until then.
So that's my plan for the next 5 month.