How quitting my job while finishing a master’s degree didn’t turn out so bad.
When things don’t go as planned
In the beginning of the year, when I started thinking about my master’s thesis, I planned it around my job. I prepared a topic related to my work, I prepared how I want to go about it, which methods I want to use and how I can build up on my projects from the previous semesters.
What I hadn’t considered: that over the past months I was getting more and more unhappy at my workplace. Even though ignoring this problem seemed fine at first, it got bigger until – over night – I took the gut decision and quit my job. That being said, I am in a lucky enough position that even the worst case scenario (= not getting paid for the next months) won’t lead to me not being able to pay bills anymore. If you are in a similar position, be aware of your privilege.
The weight that was lifted off my shoulders at that moment was immense. Still, my other big project aka master’s thesis now needed a complete change of direction – only two months before the hand-in date. Again, over night, I prepared a proposal of a new thesis topic for an organization I had worked with before. Thankfully, the proposal was accepted, and I was able to start getting to work right away. Another nice touch: I now get to focus on a project I truly love.
Getting a new project started
Especially when working with a tight schedule, some projects – like a master’s thesis – seem unmanageable. As my colleague Maša describes in her blog post, it is best to break big projects down into small pieces. That gives you a clear path to follow and the overwhelming project doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Slowly, but surely, you will reach your goal step by step by step.
Recipe for a successful project
To make a project successful, there is one secret ingredient. Okay, it is not so secret, but very helpful: communication. In big projects you are usually not alone. My thesis project involves several stakeholders, many people I have never worked with before as well as a new environment. I let the others know where I am at, what findings I came across, what steps will follow, what is possible and what is not, how the time frame changes etc. Communication takes time but is vital to prevent misunderstandings, manage expectations or get and share insights.
Don’t panic - make brave decisions and expect chaos
Over the last couple of months, I learned that it will never be easy for me to make big decisions. I also learned that it is worth deciding anyways. If you are unhappy with your current situation, I can only encourage you to trust your gut and go for it (if your personal situation allows it).
Since this is a blog about content strategy, I got another takeaway for you: as a content strategist you will come across situations that are new to you, unplanned and chaotic. Don’t panic, take a step back, analyze the situation, be brave to shift your direction if necessary and always focus on the next step. And – since you are likely to have other people on board as well – don’t forget to communicate. You got it!