Editor’s note: We’re going to be running a series of posts and personal essays in 2019, giving you an inside look at the people who create, design, support, and market CallRail. Today, we’re kicking things off with this story from UX Content Strategist Andrew Astleford, and how he made the leap from working in journalism to his new career in tech.
My life changed with a phone call.
It was late May, 2018. My fiancée and I were weaving through rush-hour Atlanta traffic on our way to Charleston, SC, where we were to be married three days later. I was almost two years into a stint as a writer for a Cox Media Group website, my latest stop in a winding career of sports journalism that had brought me to places like Orlando, Washington, Indianapolis, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Tampa before my arrival in Georgia.
On this evening, I could sense something was wrong. I picked up my cell phone — on the other side was the voice of my boss, who said he was trying to learn more about our future with the company. There had been rumors of possible layoffs for weeks, but our website’s survival never seemed in doubt before this moment. I could tell that my boss was worried.
The events that followed are still blurry in my memory. Later that evening, my boss called back and said he had learned the company would shut us down in a month because of shifting corporate priorities, with an announcement coming the next day. The morning after a restless night, there was a conference call when the official word was delivered, and gasps could be heard in the room.
There was also the matter of keeping the news a secret from family until after the wedding, so the setback wouldn’t put a damper on an amazing weekend.
I needed a change, and it had to come fast.
An evolving perspective
By the time I began considering my next steps, I had admired CallRail from afar.
Through a friend, I heard stories about a professional culture that would be great to join and grow within. I learned about a company that gave its employees room to live.
I was ready for more balance in my life. Since graduating from college in 2009, I had been fortunate to work at national events such as the World Series and Stanley Cup Final, the NCAA Tournament and NFL games, the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, plus major college football and basketball contests. I lived a childhood dream as I chased the next story, column, and tweet. It was the only life I had sought.
But those adventures came at a cost: Most of my 20s were spent trekking to the next assignment on nights, weekends, and holidays, while my peers enjoyed happy hours, bar crawls, and other activities that are incompatible with tight deadlines. Moving so many times for an industry that offered little stability — regardless of personal performance — also had taken its toll as my close friends and favorite places receded in the rearview mirror.
At age 31, my separation from Cox Media Group represented my second media-related layoff, with the first happening in 2015. After so many roles and zip codes, I wanted to control how and where I lived rather than having work dictate so much about me. I wanted more freedom.
Taking on a new challenge was also appealing to me. Timing in life is everything, and breaking through the walls of my comfort zone was attractive after reaching another professional obstacle.
I recognized a change in myself. If I were younger, I likely would have scanned more media job posts, scratched for more freelance work and scrapped for more full-time journalism jobs, however difficult that struggle might have been. My suitcases would have been at the ready like they had been so many times before. My nomadic existence would have continued.
But at this point, with the ownership of a different perspective, new questions were more important. What else could I do? How else could I grow? In what other ways could I be happy?
I’m pleased with where I find myself at this stage of my life.
A fresh start with a career at CallRail
My non-traditional entrance into the tech world as a UX Content Strategist has been an exciting rebirth.
Many years ago, I learned you can do anything as long as you have the right attitude and someone is brave enough to give you a chance. Each day, I’m grateful for the opportunity to reinvent myself. Each day, I try not to take my position for granted.
I’m invigorated by my team and co-workers. I’m energized when considering what we’re building together. I’m excited about where we can go with our talents powering us all. And I’m eager to continue doing my part — writing has been a passion of mine for years, and I’m so glad I can continue making a living with words.
Sure, the tech world is different than watching confetti flutter in chilled October air at Busch Stadium after Game 7 of the World Series, and it’s different than witnessing a policeman on horseback high-five drunken, delirious souls on Bourbon Street after a Super Bowl victory that captured so many great things about an eclectic city’s resilience. Still, the creativity I’ve valued for so long remains part of my daily life as I continue my UX writing journey.
For me, the desire to make something memorable has a different shape these days. But the ultimate goal remains the same: Leave a mark that I’m proud to call my own in everything I create. It’s fun to stretch myself when crafting microcopy and support documentation for our products. And it’s gratifying to begin this new phase in my life knowing that so many people are invested in my growth.
I’ve found many of the same skills I used in previous roles remain vital: An eye for detail, an embrace of critical thinking, and an appreciation for how an audience absorbs words are all critical.
I didn’t leave my old life behind completely. Instead, I bet on myself to thrive after a detour.
I’m lucky for how my situation turned out, given the uncertainty of those days back in May. I’ve learned it pays to take a leap into the unknown if you’re willing to expand the borders of your imagination. I’ve also learned that you shouldn’t be afraid of traveling a path you never considered possible, especially if it feels right.
Because when you arrive at your destination, you just might find the reward you’ve been searching for all along.
Interested in joining the diverse, friendly, and fast-growing team at CallRail? We’re hiring!