It was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote about changing jobs, and now I’m at it again. Luckily, this year doesn’t involve a change of address as well. The past year at PricewaterhouseCoopers has been an education for me. I’d never really worked in such a large corporate office environment before, and despite being surrounded by great people, I felt isolated. As well, my job function was quite specialized and I never really felt I was flexing all my muscles, especially when it came to social media. In addition, the combination of some legacy technology limitations as well as a generally risk-averse culture left me feeling frustrated a lot of the time. Despite my manager’s and team’s enthusiasm for social media, it was just too difficult to put much into action in such a large corporate environment. My job devolved into writing (or rewriting) corporate marketing copy and then waiting for various levels of approval. For someone coming from an entrepreneurial environment where I was basically a one-man-web-band, the adjustment was difficult.
A few months back, I was introduced to Leona Hobbs, the marketing honcho (honcha?) at Tucows who was looking for someone for her team. It turned out that it wasn’t the right position (my euphemistic way of saying I wasn’t qualified) and I didn’t think I’d hear from Leona or Tucows again. And then about six weeks ago, she contacted me about a brand new position with her team and after several weeks of interviews and paperwork, I’m happy to announce that on Monday August 25th, I’ll join Tucows as a Community Specialist. The job description ticks off all my favourite boxes and basically allows me to be an internet rockstar for money. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but I’m looking forward to stretching out in the social media space again.
I know this opportunity wouldn’t have come along without all the meeting and greeting and learning I’ve been doing in the past year, starting with the Talk is Cheap unconference, continuing throughout the year at the excellent Third Tuesday PR events, CaseCamp and Mesh, in addition to my eighth South by Southwest Interactive conference. To everyone I’ve met and chatted with over the past few months (and especially to my colleagues at PwC), thank you for giving me the benefit of your knowledge, your experience, your connections and your encouragement. I hope that I’ll be able to repay it in some way.
I spent a very educational evening tonight at the Talk Is Cheap “unconference” on Social Media, held at Centennial College‘s slightly inaccessible Carlaw campus, the Centre for Creative Communications. It was a free event that brought together around 200 people, mostly public relations and corporate communications practitioners. As such, it wasn’t directly related to my job, but for someone who’s desperately trying to advocate “social media” and “Web 2.0” stuff at PricewaterhouseCoopers, it was food for my soul. Not so much in terms of content, though, as I’d have to say I probably know more about these issues than most of the people in attendance. My problem is that I’ve never held a career position that allowed me to actually apply all this knowledge. And so my passion for blogs and the like has largely gone unrequited throughout the course of my professional career(s).
This became apparent as I listened to several very good speakers, like Joe Thornley and Michael O’Connor Clarke, both of Thornley Fallis (whose employees actually communicate with me regularly in their capacity as PR agents for ThinkFilm, whose films I review for Toronto Screen Shots. Small world sometimes.) Thornley Fallis is a small Canadian public relations firm who have made great use of social media and established a reputation as leaders in helping their clients apply that knowledge. I found myself envious of working in an environment like that, and thought, perhaps foolishly, that maybe I should be working in public relations instead. But I can clearly see that my apparent zigs and zags, career-wise, are attempts to find that ideal environment where I can apply my skills and passions to the fullest while still making a decent amount of money. While I’m not going to be hasty, maybe I should examine whether my skills and experience as a web-savvy writer might be better applied in a field that is embracing social media.
While I can foresee that PwC might call upon my experience in a limited way, it’s a large firm. So large that even after several months, I still feel like I’m learning what they do. It also feels very decentralized and finding the right person to talk to takes a fair amount of work. I haven’t been there long enough to have a truly informed opinion, but my initial impression is that they’re using cumbersome and limiting technology to publish their web site. As well, they’ve separated my job function from the actual coding of web pages, so that I’m working only in Microsoft Word, writing content that someone else will mark up. So it may be too soon to tell if PwC will be a long-term home for me, or if I just have a perennially roving eye. I’m trying to get some insight into myself, anyway, and tonight was useful.