Graduating from a prestigious, small, liberal arts university, I thought I did everything right. I was involved in clubs and organizations. I had an internship every summer. I even received collegiate and national awards based on my achievements.
I even had a job lined up before graduation. And this was 2008, six months after the “official” recession started in December 2007.
At 22, my work life was looking awesome.
Fast forward to now: I’ve bounced around different agencies, held a number of odd jobs to make a living, and found refuge the past three years teaching marketing to high school students. But I’m leaving the teaching world in Charlotte and diving back into the marketing industry in my hometown, the Steel City, Pittsburgh.
At age 30. The Dirty 30s!
My experience with the marketing industry and AdLand has been one of love and hate. Being the geek that I am, I love the theory and purpose of marketing: to educate and persuade consumers to buy the goods and services brands provide in order to improve their quality of life. What’s better than that?
And yet, there are many hoops and ladders people need to jump through and climb in order to just do their jobs. Or, in my case, to find a new one. The teaching profession is a noble one, indeed. Yet the ignoble process in education overshadows the deeds of those brave and undervalued souls. Therefore, I anxiously await my return to AdLand.
As a now 30-year-old black marketing professional, I don’t see the world as embracing and “disruptive” as I once did. Yes, if every brand was looking for disruptive marketers, then that would really defeat the purpose. Right? Or, if I thought that marketing executives were truly trying to diversify their ranks, I would be a ready and wanted professional. Oh, how humbling the real world can be!
But I hold the belief that those people who hire the up-and-coming marketing professionals must understand that the incoming class operates differently. Marketing operates differently. I, for one, am part of the older section of the infamous Millennial generation. Like a Millennial, yes, I love collaboration. Yes, I thoroughly enjoy independent thinking. However, I am far from lazy. And no, I don’t need you to pat me on the back when I succeed, nor do I expect a raise in pay when I do well. Perhaps it’s my Pittsburgh, blue-collar roots; I expect to do well, so I don’t require praise when “well” happens.
So then, at 30, my work life still looks awesome.
What are my goals? The marketing industry needs help. I plan on finding a position that will allow me to advocate for the marketing industry and implement marketing activities that will showcase marketing and advertising in the positive light it deserves. Based off my experiences, that may sound naïve. Hey, I still have time to dream. Plus, like Kurt Vonnegut said, it’s those dreamers who “seemed to have all the bright ideas.” Hopefully then, in years to come, I can say that my dreaming didn’t disappoint.
So it goes.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.