I have to be perfectly honest with you right now.
I have a treat for you today, and I am so obnoxiously thrilled about it, that I am dancing in my chair in a most unflattering way. No joke.
Also, [pro-tip] dancing like a ding-dong while attempting to type is not advisable.
If you’ve ever glossed over my About page, you’ll know that one of my goals for this site is to introduce you to truly great people that I believe have messages of real value.
That beautiful gal (inside and out) in the feature image above is Marissa Burdett of The Ampersand Creative, and the moment the crazy internet/blogosphere brought us together, I knew you had to meet her. She graciously agreed to do us the honor of being the first interview here at The Common Great, and that’s pretty much when the shameless happy dancing began.
Today, Marissa gets really, really REAL with us about the sometimes scary endeavor of transitioning from the professional life we thought we were supposed to have to a life that allows room for our passions. I know I can relate to this, and I’m betting many of you can, too.
In addition to an epic portion of inspiration, Marissa has also generously included a few bonus resources/tips for us bloggers. There are helpful links all over this thang!
So what do ya say I quit yapping and let’s get to the good stuff.
My friends, I bring you the talented Miss Marissa Burdett.
WELCOME! I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE HERE.
I’m Marissa. By day, I’m a marketing consultant for a fun startup company and by night, I’m either typing up a blog post, swing dancing, discussing millennial careers, or spending time with the people I love (preferably with a glass of wine in hand).
An Unexpected Change
What quote could be your mantra for this month?
One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor, and grace. She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers. -Unknown
Take us back, girl. How did your career path begin?
Throughout my entire childhood all the way into college, I wanted to be a teacher.
It started in first grade when I wanted to be JUST like my teacher, Mrs. Adams; I even wanted to grow up and marry her son, Eddie, just so I could be her. (That probably sounds creepy, but she was just the best in a six-year-old’s eyes! She even had a dog who could do math!)
My first job in high school was at a Kumon Learning Center, where I graded after-school work and helped students with their homework. I was also a day camp counselor for many summers, until I landed my first job out of college as an English teacher. Up to this point, I had such positive experiences in the classroom, but for the first time, I found that it was much, much different than I ever could have imagined.
While I managed to end the school year on a positive note and as a much stronger person than when I started, I recognized that I was destined for something different from the traditional classroom.
I moved back to my amazing hometown, Pittsburgh, and hustled for numerous months in a retail job before landing a position as Marketing Consultant at a cool tech startup company – an entirely new industry for me.Don’t hold yourself back and don’t be afraid to dream BIGGER. - MarissaClick To Tweet
The Courage To Adapt
What prepared you for the giant leap into a new industry?
Because I had started a blog after college graduation and sought out other volunteer opportunities, I had gained skills in marketing, content strategy, and social media management, which helped me land this new career! A year later, I am ready for new responsibilities and eager to see what’s next.
Part of this ambition has manifested itself in Ampersand Creative; I am currently deciding how I’d like to work products and services into the mix. Right now, I’m doing the hustle and seeing where it takes me!
What motivated you to make a change in profession?
Not to borrow from Lemony Snicket, but a series of unfortunate events ultimately led me away from teaching. Even so, looking back I recognize that there were numerous moments throughout that year (and throughout my time in college) that showed my passions and abilities could be put to use elsewhere in ways that were just as meaningful as educating youth.
Blogging really instilled a sense of confidence – demonstrating that I could, in fact, do something else and do it WELL. As a result, I am much happier and feel as though I can do anything and everything I desire.
Was it scary?
It was undoubtedly the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through in my life.
To fully understand the pain I experienced, you’d have to sit through the nitty gritty details, but I’ll spare you all and let you know that it. was. hard.
I cried a lot. I questioned a lot. Letting go of something so secure, something I had wanted for so long, and then having to put in my time in retail while job searching was extremely humbling.
People—friends, family, professors, former teachers—didn’t understand.
I found out who my real support system was.
As someone who is generally very positive and optimistic, I battled a depression I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. But in the trenches, you learn and you grow, even while kicking and screaming. Once things finally started coming together, I emerged better and stronger than ever before.
Using Your Voice
On your blog, you talk a lot about “embracing the ANDs in your life”. Can you explain what you mean by this concept?
When you go to a networking event or meet someone for the first time, you’re often asked, “So what do you do?”
And more often than not, your reply is, “I am a [insert profession here].” Or “I work at [insert company here].” As if that’s all that you do!
One thing I’ve learned is that you are not JUST your career. You’re not JUST your relationships or your hobbies or your dreams, either. You are not defined by one thing, but rather a culmination of all these things. I felt that with Ampersand Creative, I could focus on tying in this concept of “and.”
I want others to feel empowered to pursue ALL of the things that make them happiest, not just one.
You are NOT defined by just one thing. Embrace the ands in your life. - MarissaClick To Tweet
Speaking of your website, it’s beautiful! Can you share with us 3 of your favorite blogging go-to tips/tools or resources?
Thanks so much! You’re too kind. Sam Bell Creative is responsible for taking my vision and turning it into reality. You can check out my resources page for my full list of must-haves, but here are my top three tips:
1. Utilize an editorial calendar to help plan out your content and save your sanity. For example, the EPIC blog planner from ByRegina.com has been super helpful in mapping out my content for Ampersand Creative.
2. Genuinely and generously share other people’s content. As Whitney reminds us, it’s good blog karma AND it helps your readers! Make it easier with a social media automation tool like Buffer, my favorite.
3. Find a niche. Trust me; I was so resistant to the idea of a niche that I ended up limiting my blog’s growth and longevity! By finding your area of expertise, you can truly own your content (and surprisingly, you’ll find even more to talk about)!
With all these changes + new experiences, what are some of your professional goals now?
I’ve always said if I could combine blogging, my role as President in Kappa Delta Sorority in college, and the brilliance of Levo League in a professional role, I would be absolutely set.
What these all have in common are a passion for purpose, leadership, and inspiring others. I would love to find or develop a role that would incorporate these things in a flexible and collaborative environment.
Additionally, I hope to make Ampersand Creative into an official business one day, where I can offer products and services that would be of real use to others. I’d also love to sharpen my skills in design and photography.
How do you personally judge success?
Success is when your ideas become reality, but it’s also when you ultimately grow from or rise above a failure. If you can be unapologetically yourself while helping others, you are winning in my book.
What inspires you to keep pushing forward?
In my eyes, there is no direction to go other than forward. I am inspired by my own resilience and by the idea that dreams are no longer completely out of reach. If I want something, I can put forth the effort to make it happen and so can you. I am also inspired by people around me, especially my mom who has been through so much, but yet still pushes through every time.
Are there any final thoughts you’d like to share with our friends regarding the pursuit of passions through business?
Just because you were a certain major in college or you’re in a specific career path doesn’t mean you can’t pursue something that you’ve always wanted.
Don’t hold yourself back and don’t be afraid to dream bigger.
Have you ever experienced a career change? Are you considering one now?
Tell me and Marissa all about it below!
Also, don’t forget to peruse her crazy beautiful blog…and let her know I sent ya.
PS: Shout out to Lauren Renee Designs for those stunning head-shots of our girl, Marissa!