Wearing Shorts, And Feeling Good About Them, Too: Episode 21



Today is summer as you can see!

When I finished the proofreading course, I went in to Dad’s company with him and I proofread a sample project for the head account lady. She said I was very sharp-eyed and they would be glad to take me on as an unpaid proofing intern. The boss sent around an email to everybody at the company telling them that I was here, and I would proof all their things for free.

Starting at the beginning of December, every morning I went in to work with my father and I sat and worked at the end of his long L-shaped desk. Eventually the boss started having me do other things – organizing files, entering information into their online records system – all for no pay, of course. Once in a while he came in and said, “Don’t worry, we won’t forget about you.” He had a big smarmy grin with white teeth. After a month or two, I began to suspect that they were just going to use my services for free forever.

I told my friend Bilbo about this “internship” and he said that he knew a gentleman who worked at one of the larger ad agencies in town. Bilbo suggested that I should send this gentleman my resume and maybe they would have a place for me at the larger agency. My resume did not look very impressive. It had two things on it, my college degree and my “internship” at my father’s company, but I typed it up as nicely as possible and emailed it to Bilbo’s contact at the agency.

Mr. Agency Man emailed me back very nicely and said they would keep my information on file, but they didn’t have anything for me at this time. He also suggested that I do something more “creative” with my resume, since that was the way to get the attention of ad agencies.

I figured, what did I have to lose? So I went home one evening and took a large sheet of Bristol board, and drew a cartoon. It showed me as a little superhero character called “Prooferwoman,” hopping over a series of buildings. The first building was my college, the second building was the agency where I was interning, and the little character soared over these structures on an upward trajectory. The caption said “Send me on a mission,” and my contact information was at the bottom.

Then I scanned this cartoon into the computer and looked up “Greenville, SC ad agencies.” I found the 5 or 6 closest to my house and sent them my resume with an email cover letter. I did know how to write a decent cover letter by this point. This was over the weekend, at the very tail end of January 2012.

On Monday morning, surprise, surprise! I opened up my email at my father’s office and there were three or four requests from different agencies. They all said, “We got your resume, we like it, and we would like you to come in for an interview!”

My father was happy for me! He said he would be glad to take me in for the interviews. A couple of them were at little agencies downtown, one was further out in Spartanburg, and I forget where the other one was. I couldn’t wait for the end of the week.

Now I was motivated! I got on yellowpages.com and started looking up ad agencies in other cities, and then other states. I sent my cover letter and my cartoon to each one, and it was like magic! Responses started to trickle in. “Yes, we have some proofing we would like you to do. Could you proof a sample project for us?” “Would you please call us for a phone interview?” and from one agency in North Carolina, “We don’t need any proofing, but we need someone to write blog posts for us. Could you do a sample post for us, please?”

Now, whenever I was not proofing or organizing things for free at my dad’s agency, I sat there at the desk doing small projects of my own, sending out still more resumes, and – finally – sending out invoices. My first ever invoice was for the agency that needed the blog posts. I charged them $20 a post, and they really liked them and asked me to do more.

My interviews at the local agencies went well, too. I got some proofing work from one of them, and from another one I got an unexpected windfall: $1000 to come in three days a week for the next month and help write content for their rebranding effort.

Suddenly, I had places to go and things to do. I was starting to make some actual money…not very much, but a little bit more each week. My dad said, “You know what? You’re starting a business.” I was a little astonished at myself. I think my dad was a little surprised at how things were taking off, too.

I drew several updated cartoon resumes (in color, this time) and started sending them to agencies in a wider and wider range of cities. I pulled in a client in Chicago, a client in Miami, and another one in Austin, Texas. In the spring, my dad left his company to become an independent contractor, so I left with him. I was at home all day now, but I had a business! I was motivated! When I got my first ever $1000 check from the company in Spartanburg, I was so proud.

My business is called content development. I put every cent of money in the bank. I had a plan: I was going to get out of here.

To be continued.


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