My First Week Back In Advertising: 5 AM Runs, Spilled Coffee, Desk Lunches

This past week was a big one for me. I started my new job and re-joined the advertising world full-time as a copywriter.

It’s been a huge life change for me, and this about sums up week one…

To give you an idea, and help me remember, I decided to document my first five days. It’s long—very long—so if you skim, I won’t be offended. 

Here we go.

It me!

DAY 1

Early morning run #1: 4.4 miles. I didn’t want to do it. Everything about my evening prior to waking up at 5 a.m. told me not to part with my warm comfy flannel sheet-lined bed. I slept like shit, tossing and turning all night with a headache and a stomachache. But deep down in my gut I knew I’d be better for it, so I pulled on a sports bra and jacket and laced up my shoes. I stayed in the leggings I wore to bed that night. One step after another I slowly felt better and actually enjoyed the stillness and the darkness before the world woke up. I’d only given myself enough time for 4.5 miles, so when I rounded the block to home, I called it good, stretched a little, then jumped in the shower.

Spilled coffee: I TOTALLY SPILLED MY COFFEE ON THE FIRST DAY. I mean, there’s never a right time to spill coffee, but on the first day of a new job? Good thing it was after they’d already brought me on and not in the interview process?

Fun and confusing acronyms: RWO, S&T, TIG, PYC, DG, KO, KV, RACI, SOW…WTF? I’ve been out of the full-time agency world for awhile, and every shop has their own language, so to speak. But these were completely foreign to me. I sat in on a workflow meeting to get a feel for process and, well, I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

Changed my desktop wallpaper: Clearly a very important first-day order of business. I chose a swirly iridescent purple pattern. It’s calming.

We’re kind of wrapped around a Dick’s Sporting Goods: The office is located above a long (long long long) block of stores and cafes in a shopping plaza near Denver. One of them is Dick’s Sporting Goods. It’s massive. It’s one of those Dick’s stores that is two stories and sells kayaks. You know the ones. Well from one of our hallways, we stand eye level with a gigantic climbing wall, last used when Dick’s was Galyan’s. Remember them? And when you get on your tiptoes and look down, you can watch people trying on Nikes and practice swinging golf clubs. Like we’re the horrible humans tapping on the fish tank glass.

Lunch: I packed a lunch for my first day because I had obviously forgotten how first days work. The new kid always gets taken out to lunch by her manager and/or team. My CD and I went to T-Street Roadhouse which is a hilarious name because neither the food nor the atmosphere screamed ‘roadhouse’ to me. To paint the picture, it was like having fancy dishes inside of a Restoration Hardware store. My roasted beet salad was delicious and a bit over-priced, and the atmosphere felt very ‘business lunch’ but in a good way. Fast forward to two hours after lunch… I was starving again. So thank goodness for Sunday night Lindsay who prepped and packed an Italian-inspired chicken and spaghetti squash dish she found on Pinterest.

People started leaving at 4 p.m.: It was like mass exodus up in here and it freaked me out. At my first agency, we got called clock-watchers when we left at 6 p.m. At my second agency, we had a little more wiggle room, we were trusted and things weren’t as strict, but we still stayed until around 5 p.m. and let our project managers know when we were headed out in case they needed anything before we left. Here? BAI! I’m not sure it’s that way at every agency in Colorado, but I think, in general, mindsets are different here. Agencies and decision-makers value personal time; they know we don’t live here to pay loads of rent and sit inside an office building all day and night. I still stayed until 5 p.m., but it’s nice to know I won’t get scolded if I want to scoot a few minutes early.

This is my morning commute. The traffic sucks, but the views do not.

DAY 2

Early morning run #2: 4.5 miles. My alarm was set in the fives, I’m out before 6 a.m., and I finish before the sunrise. My track coach in high school always used to tell us the first three steps are always the worst. The ones that get you out the door and onto the pavement, because then you’ve committed and since you’re already out there in the dark and the cold, you have to do the thing until you’re finished. I carry that with me in the mornings, when I’m stuffed between comfy flannel sheets and plush comforter. It only takes a couple creaky steps to shake the sleep away and enjoy the stillness. I’m keeping them short because I’m asking a lot of my body to get up when it doesn’t want to and asking it that over and over during the week.

I brought my lunch again. And it saves so much money—like at least $50/week AKA $200/month. That’s big, so I’m going to keep rolling with it.

Today I wrote things: I know, right? It’s what they hired me for. Today, my second day, I was assigned a few jobs to help get me familiar with the brands I’ll be working on. The learning curve is always a little steep when several big and particular brands are involved, so I’m not promising quick turnarounds right now. So far so good.

We’re next to a Target. CAN YOU THINK OF A BIGGER NIGHTMARE FOR A BANK ACCOUNT? It only took me a day and a half to wander over there and browse the aisles at lunch. This time, I actually went to do a little client research, but I left with hand lotion and gum. Could’ve been worse.

THE SNACK SECTION! Second worst to having Target right around the corner: our office has a snack section in the kitchen filled with all my favorite sweet and salty things. It’s not free, but they’re pretty cheap and the self-serve machine makes it way too easy to pick up a snack when 3:30 p.m. hits. Today I had those crispy snap peas and some trail mix which costed me about $4. Le sigh.

Part of my new routine is stopping for coffee before I get to work and sipping if slowly while I listen to a podcast during my 45-minute drive. It’s pretty relaxing, actually.

DAY 3

Early morning run #3: 4.4 miles. My sleep has gone to shit this week, but somehow I’m making the dark and early runs happen, and I’m proud of that. I think a big part of figuring out this new job is figuring out my new weekly routine. I thrive on structure; hitting deadlines, checking things off, being in a certain place at a certain time, finding the right parking spots. It all works for me. Creating a structured workout schedule and making time for myself is really important to me and to my sanity now that I’ve rejoined the 9-5ers. So far I’m enjoying starting my day this way, no matter how tired I am when my alarm goes off.

I met Jim on the elevator. Jim is in finance and Jim looks like he’s in finance. This agency is huge, so it’s taking awhile to get to know people, even the ones that sit right next to me. Read: we’re all not really trying. A friend asked me how things were going at this new job and I told her it’s a weird. There are tons of people around all the time, but we’ve not introduced ourselves to each other, even the people I’ll be working with every day. She told me to go for it—be more forward, introduce myself, start conversation, all of which I totally suck at. But she’s right. Jim from finance was the first step.

Brought my lunch three days in a row. Look at me go!

Target totally got me again. Have you seen their pen aisle? Has it gotten better? Is it just me? I just wanted to go on a sunny lunchtime walk around the block and I ended up, once again, in Target’s checkout line with pens, Annie’s graham cracker bunnies and trail mix. I should stop taking my wallet with me everywhere I go.

This was last weekend, but it’s pitch black when I run in the mornings now, so picture this underneath a street lamp.

DAY 4

Getting sick of hearing about my morning runs? I repeated Tuesday’s route this morning. For some reason, 4.5 miles feels way shorter and more manageable than the 5.5-mile route I ran on Mondays before I drove to my freelance job in Denver. For some reason I’d feel totally wrecked after those. Shorter and more frequent runs have been great lately, especially so early in the morning.

I miss Rapha. I miss starting my day in one of my favorite places with my favorite people. I miss seeing my friends first thing when they get their coffee. I miss talking about biking and watching biking and preparing for biking events at the clubhouse. These days I stare at my screen and write about batteries. I made these tradeoffs consciously and on purpose. I accepted the offer and the 45-minute commute twice per day and the humongous paychecks. I didn’t think after four days I’d feel so disconnected from the community that saved my life.

Aaaaaand I’m overwhelmed. I was kicked off on several projects with quick turnarounds and…wow. I told myself I wouldn’t get so worked up like I did at my last job. But I’m being asked to work on all these projects and I don’t even understand the agency’s process yet. It’s all backwards. I want to scream and also cry a little.

Lunch: I stress ate my sad lunch at my desk while I worked. (At least I brought it from home again.)

That Spring morning light is really something.

DAY 5

Dear lord, we made it to day five. And I got in my final early morning run of the week. The first day was just about getting the nerves out and then when I made it to day three, it became an experiment in exercise routine. Could I make it all five days? I went for it and I’m happy I made it! This new, extra-early schedule is going to be tough, but eventually I think it will become habit. There are also a lot of early runners around 5:45-6 a.m. which was fun to see. Note to self: get a headlamp.

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about work things. That’s something I used to do at my first agency job in Florida. When we had pressing deadlines or tight turnarounds or loose ends to tie up the next day, I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the work I had on my plate, doing some pseudo lucid brainstorming on the fringes of asleep and awake. I didn’t know how to snap out of it, so I kept my eyes closed and tried taking deep breaths until I dozed off again.

The days were long and the week was short. I had no idea what to expect during my first five days here. At the first agency I worked at in 2012, I stayed until 11 p.m. every night because my boss did and because we were in the middle of a huge promotion period. My first week at my second agency in 2013, I wrote what felt like thousands of lines for Facebook and Twitter to help launch our client onto those platforms, and loved every second of it. In short: I’m still learning.

Early release. Like most days here, I left earlier than I expected. When it comes down to it, my boss trusts his team to get their work done, and he values life outside of work. He’s an ultrarunner with a family, which is the most difficult kind of ultrarunner you can possibly be. He can’t spend six hours away from his family on weekends, so he fits in runs before, during, and after work.

Overall, week one went really well, and I’m excited for week two. It feels good to be back in a routine again. It feels good to work toward something tangible, to be part of a team…to get paid more. 

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