From Complaints to Creativity: How I fought my way out of finance and found my calling

Sophie Sylvester

“How’s work?”
The dreaded question.

I’d lie and then begrudgingly return the question, knowing I would have to level-up my enthusiasm when my friends or family would tell me about their work. I mean I was always happy for people who were enjoying their jobs and wanted to talk about them, but more than that, I felt envious of them. Envious that they could discuss their career without complaining about it.

I fell into my financial services career straight out of university, which saved me from having to decide on what career path I wanted to take. The job was flexible, I was making a decent wage, I travelled and had fun. Life was good. So, I decided I would get a “real job” when the time was right.

10 years later and my friends who seemed to be stuck in Junior positions for a long time were now flying up their career ladders AND enjoying their work. Every social gathering would come with announcements of promotions, whereas I couldn’t bear the thought of progressing further in financial complaints. As soon as I hit 30, it became a now-or-never situation as I was feeling undervalued, unappreciated and the day-to-day monotony of my job was grinding me down. I knew I had to remove the financial barriers that I’d been using as an excuse to stay in my position and made the difficult decision to move back home with my parents.

With Covid-19 killing all of my social plans and my Mum doing all of my laundry, I had the time to fully research what my next move would be. I was desperate to avoid steamrolling into a new position that didn’t give me the career excitement I was after.

I decided to do some good and began volunteering for MK Charities as a Social Media Coordinator. In such an uncertain time, I found joy in donating my time to such worthy charities and in sharing stories of kindness. My volunteer work reignited my passion for creativity. I was having a lot of fun creating content and I loved working on an important pitch and projects with the CEO. My eyes had been opened to the world of PR and the wild idea of doing work that I was passionate about that also allowed me to embrace my love of wordplay and what I believe is my sense of humour.

I was terrified about dragging myself outside of my career comfort zone, but I decided to finally pursue something that makes me happy and handed in my notice. I then did what any good PR person would – I roped in some contacts and tried to create some buzz around my career move. I wrote a blog about my Covid career change on LinkedIn which included a call to action for people to share my story. Luckily for me, Shelley Frosdick came across the blog and the rest is history.

I never imagined that I would be starting my career again while in my (early) thirties. But, do you know what, I feel more like me than I have in a long time. If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that life is too short to be in a job you feel indifferent to and I know I’ve gone the long way around, but I am so excited about getting stuck into the PR world.

I couldn’t be happier to have been offered an initial role as an intern and to have the opportunity to try my hand at PR. I have loved every minute of my internship and I now wake up each morning excited to start work. And the great news is, that after just 6 weeks I have been offered a permanent role in the Consumer & Lifestyle team at PHA! I am so excited about what The PHA Group has in store for me and to develop my career as a PR. I might be a bit late to the party, but I’m committed to making up for lost time and ensuring every second in my new role counts!