Lisa Lubin’s New Business Card
Worried that taking a career break to travel can hurt your career? It can actually help enhance it. Just look at Lisa Lubin’s new business card.
[singlepic=1878,250,,,right]As summer rapidly comes to a close, I am reminded that it was four years ago now that I quit my full time job and, in essence, my full-time career in television. Since university, I’d worked in broadcast television, starting after my sophomore year with my first internships, including one at “Late Night with David Letterman.” I graduated college and worked full time ever since, at three different television stations – directing, editing, writing and producing. I built a ‘career.’ I was stable and secure. I was saving my pennies and hard earned money…for ‘something.’ I had a bi-weekly direct deposit check, a really good health insurance package, a retirement plan that I funded generously, and some stock shares in my parent company: Disney.
Then in the summer of 2006, I quit. I gave it all up. And I don’t regret it one bit.
Networking on the Road
I didn’t know what I would do when I ‘returned.’ I wasn’t sure, but I was open to new things and willing to just see what happened. I suppose I’ve always been lucky to feel confident in my resourcefulness and abilities and that I would always find ‘something.’ So I really didn’t worry all that much. I remember back in college learning about something called “networking.” Yuck. It seemed so phony or uncomfortable. Now networking is all I do. But I don’t think of it like that. I love talking to people – learning what they do and how they got there. When I traveled, that’s all I did – meet people and ‘network’ in a sense, which landed me random opportunities from working for Turkey’s largest media conglomerate, the Dogan Group, (I just proofread some presentations, but it was still amazing to just ‘fall’ into that from chatting with people) to doing research at the University of Cologne (through a friend) to landing a year-long freelance gig (which basically funded all my travels from then on, allowing me to break even) doing publicity for an English Immersion program based in Madrid.
Many people asked me, “What about the economy?”
Bottom line, I make much less than I did previously, but it frankly doesn’t matter and hasn’t changed my quality of life at all.
I just thought there couldn’t be a better time for me to be out traveling. In a way, when I returned was perfect because the economy was picking up a bit and there were more jobs available. Don’t get me wrong, I applied for dozens of freelance gigs in New York and Chicago and rarely heard back if at all. But of course, there is that persistence gene I do seem to possess which helps a lot too.
For the most part, I knew these three or so years away would enrich my resume, not subtract from it. I’d heard this before from others and believe wholeheartedly that it is true. The skills I learned – negotiating, planning, organizing, being independent, etc., would absolutely help me in work and life in general.
Finding Work Back Home
So now that I am back – what am I doing? I find this question hard to answer succinctly. While I was gone, I built a blog and a brand and through it have naturally made so many contacts and connections, from which random leads and jobs have come. So before I even returned I was already building a new ‘career.’ I was lucky to already have a background as a writer and photographer, so while my blog was a way to document things and entertain my readers, it also acted as a roadmap or idea generator for larger articles that I could pitch to newspapers, magazines, and other websites.
[singlepic=1877,250,,,right]I managed to get travel articles published in the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, and the Dallas Morning News among others. I was very fortunate to have a few photo essays bought by Smithsonian Online. And then there were the opportunities that just ‘fell in my lap’ and came to me because someone found my blog. The editor on Encyclopedia Britannica online contacted me to be a weekly travel blogger for them and they also ended up buying about 100 of my photographs. An editor and publisher of English textbooks in Germany found my blog and also contacted me to freelance for them throughout the year writing travel ‘columns’ for their textbooks. And of course, now the blog itself makes a modest amount of money from advertising.
But, while this was all enough to fund more travel, it was not sufficient to pay for rent or bills. Well, it may have been sufficient, but was too ‘risky’ for me. I didn’t think I could handle worrying each month about paying my rent. So I was very lucky to go back to television producing and found a perfect freelance gig a few days a week for WGN-TV’s new food show, Chicago’s Best. I love food. And I love Chicago. And I had been doing similar work at my former job, so it was a no brainer.
Bottom line, I make much less than I did previously, but it frankly doesn’t matter and hasn’t changed my quality of life at all. I make enough. I have freedom to explore new possibilities and also the freedom to still travel. I seem to be cobbling together a new career and adding more titles to my business card.
It could literally read:
Writer, Producer, Photographer, Editor, Blogger, Publicist, Travel Consultant, Video Consultant, World Traveler