Your first job is a chance to position yourself for world (OK, professional) domination in the future. But what if your vision for that future is clouded by an endless stream of spreadsheets or office politics? You make a viral Tumblr.
Welcome to How I Landed My Job, a series of stories about graduates who took an unconventional approach to landing a job they love. As part of Fifth Third Bank’s Brand of You campaign, $1 million in one-on-one career coaching scholarships is being given away to recent graduates. Head here to learn how you can enter for the chance to win job search training, worth $1,000.
When he got his first job as a media strategist at an advertising agency in 2007, Chase Turner just felt lucky to be employed — especially after navigating the disheartening job market for a year. But before long that gratitude turned into frustration. Chase had planned on transitioning to a creative position within a few years, but he quickly realized that agency structure would be a major impediment.
Go Viral, Young Man
It was time for a new plan, but Chase wasn’t sure what that plan was or how to make it happen. In the meantime, he decided to develop his creative muscles. It never crossed his mind that a personal side project could be his big break.
Chase had been what he calls a “passive Tumblr user” since late 2007, and in 2008 he started his own blog, Minus Manhattan. “At first, [it] was really just a journal of things I liked,” he says. “I established this routine of scouring the internet for photography and art for an hour or two, and then I would post maybe eight to ten times every day. I interacted with all of the big bloggers on Tumblr hoping they’d follow me, and maybe even re-blog a post.”
His routine paid off. Chase’s posts and networking began to catch the attention of other users —soon, like-minded internet aesthetes were re-blogging his posts. “My blog gained more and more traction in the community, which was small, intimate, and pretty unique at the time,” he says.
Chase became fascinated with the phenomenon of blog posts going viral, and began investigating the causes behind the successes and the duds. “The question then became whether to post content I knew would do well or content I really loved,” Chase remembers. But Minus Manhattan was his creative outlet, and he wasn’t willing to compromise that. “I chose the latter,” he says, “and now I post content that’s almost exclusively my own photographs.”
Catching the Corporate Eye
Eventually Minus Manhattan’s popularity spread to the right people: Tumblr’s corporate honchos. They contacted Chase and asked him to do some freelance photography at events — they even used some of the resulting photos to promote the company. But it wasn’t until 2011 that Chase experienced what he refers to as an “oh maybe this is something” moment. He was attending a Fashion Week party, and found himself in a swanky suite at the Gramercy Park Hotel with the founders of Tumblr. He’d become part of the community he wanted to work in. Now he needed to establish himself as a professional asset.
Coincidentally, in his capacity as a media strategist, Chase found himself listening to a presentation given by a team of Tumblr sales reps. When they pulled him aside afterward and asked him to meet with their superiors in New York, he was ready for the opportunity. “If I’m able to build something on a personal level by myself with no budget, it makes sense that I’d be able to help a team with a budget do it for a business,” he says. Tumblr agreed.
After a rigorous vetting process that included ten interviews, Chase was offered a creative job working for his favorite place on the internet. Make no mistake, this chance didn’t come easy. But it wasn’t exactly a lucky break either. The time and energy Chase had invested to create his blog were testaments to his talent. “I let that speak for itself,” he says.
“My advice? Go after what you love and commit to it,” he says. “It doesn’t come easy, but it’s certainly possible. My only regret is that I didn’t go for it sooner.”
You’ve heard Chase’s story — now it’s time to share yours. How have your creative projects impacted your career? Were you surprised by the reality of your first job? How did you adjust? What’s the craziest thing you ever did to get an interview, make an impression, or land a job? Share your career stories in the comments!
As stories like Chase’s prove, a college degree doesn’t guarantee a full time job offer. Most graduates don’t know how to develop and promote their strongest asset: their personal brand. That’s why Fifth Third Bank teamed up with NextJob to create the Brand of You campaign. As part of this initiative, Fifth Third Bank is giving away $1 million in personalized job search coaching to help recent graduates navigate the job market as they deal with paying student loans.
All it takes to enter is a simple Tweet. Visit 53.com/BrandofYou to learn more about how you can win a job search training package worth $1,000, or tell us why you deserve a scholarship by posting a Tweet with #brandofyou and #53enter for a chance to win. Fifth Third Bank. Member FDIC.