Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Following Your Bliss

When you work at a close-knit company of 40+ people, the departure of a colleague often feels like losing a family member. This week marks the end of an era at Quinn & Co., the spirited PR agency where I spend my workdays, with the exit of three beloved co-workers.

Each of my departing colleagues is leaving to pursue different career paths. Cristina is taking her tremendous gift for advising into a new role as a school guidance counselor. Fashion-savvy (and, I predict, future Project Runway candidate) Michel has been accepted to New York University's highly-competitive Steinhardt Master of Arts Visual Culture’s Costume Studies Program. And organizational whiz Danielle will be transferring her talents to event planning for the New York Historical Society.

Quinn & Co Gals: Danielle, Michel, Me and Cristina

As these fabulous women begin new chapters in their lives, I am excited at what lies ahead for them. And I can’t help recalling the circuitous but deeply fulfilling journey I’ve had in following my own bliss.

I spent most of my twenties pursuing my childhood dream of broadcast journalism, specifically, the pie-in-the-sky hope of becoming the next Katie Couric. My ambitions took me to destinations of all kinds -- from glamorous cities abroad (Sydney, Australia) to small-town USA (Southern Illinois, Dover, Delaware). For seven years, I was part of the TV news world as a writer, producer and on-air reporter.

I was on day two of a two-year reporting contract at a CBS affiliate in Maryland when it hit me -- I want to do something else. The realization unnerved me. After all, I had devoted my education and career to that point in service of one very specific goal. What in the world would I do next? Thanks to a serendipitous encounter with Val, a fellow journalism school alum and respected travel reporter, I soon found out.

Over drinks one night, I discovered Val was looking for a freelance writer to contribute to her website. She gave me the job, which was to take press releases and turn them into news items. It was in the course of doing this that my new career in travel PR was born. Val forwarded me an opening at Quinn & Co. and the rest, as they say, is history.

Nearly four years later, I’m still having the time of my life. PR is the perfect confluence of what I love -- writing, travel, and working with the media. Uppity journalists might say I’ve gone over to the ‘dark side.’ I say, it was the best professional decision I’ve ever made.

I have no doubt the same fulfillment awaits Cristina, Danielle and Michel, and I can’t wait to hear all about their adventures post-Quinn & Co. Their transitions are a wonderful reminder that it’s never too late -- or too soon -- for a second act.

As English novelist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley once said, the beginning is always today.

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