A freelancer’s journey back to corporate (part two of two)

In our last episode, our speechwriting heroine, deciding to hang up her freelance hat for a more stylish corporate hat, was doing laps in the employment pool, hatless.

She picks up the story …

The decision to leave the freelance life built over time and began by happenstance.

In February 2010, as a new member of the Economic Club of Indianapolis, I was asked to give a speech on what I did for a living. The speech was a success; I submitted it to Vital Speeches of the Day, where it appeared in the April 2010 issue.

This led to a call from a headhunter representing an international beverage-industry company in New York looking for a speechwriter to its CEO. Its vice president of corporate communications had read the speech in VSOTD and asked the headhunter to contact me.

At the time, I wasn’t interested in moving from my home in Indiana, so when asked what salary I was looking for, I gave what I thought was a very high figure. The headhunter didn’t blink but said, instead, it was a “workable number.”

I agreed to an interview; the company flew me out East and I met with the communications vice president and the CEO’s chief of staff. From our conversations, I realized I wasn’t a good fit for the company, or it for me.

I continued to receive job leads through my network of colleagues. A speechwriter I’d worked with in my IBM days alerted me to an executive speechwriting opening at his global data storage company. A vice president from my days at United Technologies told me about an opening for speechwriter to his division’s president.

I had telephone interviews; I was flown out for in-person interviews. But for one reason or another—salary requirements, location, corporate fit—nothing came to fruition.

Along the way, I continued to attract more freelance speechwriting clients—a defense industry contractor, a banking institution and a United Nations’ agency. But I continued to feel drawn to seek a fulltime corporate position for the reasons I detailed in Part 1 of this series.

One day I had an epiphany talking with my friend Cheryl, a writer whom I had met through my blog. She had called to tell me about a speechwriting opening at an engineering company in her area she thought I might want to apply for.

As I began telling her why I wasn’t interested, I ended up articulating the kind of company and industry I really wanted to work for. A company in the telecommunications/technology industry.

I had two reasons: my first corporate speechwriting position had been with Southern New England Telephone (SNET) in New Haven, Connecticut, my hometown, where I wrote for the chairman and other senior executives.
Back then, before the advent of competition, SNET was the telephone company of Connecticut. It took its role very seriously, and was an excellent corporate citizen. I was proud to work for a company that enabled human connection in times of joy, sorrow and emergency.

When Hurricane Gloria blew through Connecticut in 1985 and most of the state was without power for five days, SNET crews worked night and day replacing downed lines, repairing switching stations and bringing emergency communications to people in need.

Over in SNET’s video shop, my friend Kim put together a fabulous music video showing the round-the-clock work of the dedicated crews and what they did to return phone service to the state during and following the hurricane. Set to the 1983 Laura Branigan hit, “Gloria,” the video instilled a sense of pride and “can-do” spirit in all of us at SNET.

The second reason I wanted to work in the technology field was that ever since my job at IBM, I had loved technology. I believed it could advance the ways in which we live, learn, work and play and improve the life of the planet as well.
In essence, telecommunications and technology were the meeting of everything I cared about.

Once that decision was made, I completely refocused my job search. No longer did I apply to just any speechwriter opening. I focused on the leading companies in the telecommunications and technology industries.
What was the leading telecommunications and technology company in the country as far as I was concerned? Verizon.

I researched Verizon and Verizon Wireless and was impressed with the interesting and important work the companies were doing in bringing next generation technology to consumers, businesses and to the “greening” of the planet.
I liked their commitment to integrity, respect, performance excellence and accountability. I liked it that they had won awards for best places to work, best customer experience. And I was impressed by their corporate commitment to ending domestic violence and improving education around the country.

I also had the great good fortune to know someone in the senior communications ranks at Verizon. We had worked together at IBM and I asked him if he would keep an eye out for any speechwriting openings in the company.
He did just that—flagging two positions over the ensuing months. When one didn’t come to fruition, he flagged another.

This time, I hit the jackpot! It was a speechwriting position in Verizon Wireless’ corporate communications group. I was flown out for a whirlwind series of interviews—six in one day. That was Thursday. The next Tuesday, I was offered the job.
Ironically, the same week I was offered another position—speechwriter to the president of a government banking institution. The pay was higher and the location was closer to my home in Indiana, but I knew where I wanted to be.

I started with Verizon Wireless at the end of June and am very happy. The people are terrific, the work is interesting and I feel like I’m finally where I belong—using my skills and talents to do good work for a great company.

You know, the name Verizon comes from the Latin word, veritas, meaning truth, and from Old French, orizon, (horizon), meaning not only the coming together of earth and sky, but the limit of the theoretically possible universe. At Verizon Wireless, I believe we’re pushing those limits every day for the benefit of our customers, employees, shareholders and the world at large. That’s a pretty fine thing.

As for swimming laps in the employment pool, I’ve hung up my suit, goggles and towel. I plan to be on dry land for awhile.
May you also find your way to your dream job—corporate or freelance. God bless you all.

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