Snippets of life

My career journey: From reservoir engineer to digital marketer

This day four years ago, I was still wobbly from finally quitting my job as a reservoir engineering, after months of deliberation. A few weeks prior, I told my manager that I wouldn’t be renewing my contract. At that time, I’d made a decision to take a leap of faith and leave the world of oil and gas for good. Four years on, and I can honestly say that it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

My career path is not what you call straightforward. I started working as a reservoir engineer, dabbled in photography for a while, before making a swerve to the world of digital marketing. Career-wise, I feel that I finally get to where I belong, and I’m really content with my choice.

It wasn’t always like this, though. I floundered for a while, and I remember feeling a mix of awe, envy, and panic as I watched my peers climb up the corporate ladder, getting good positions with lots of benefits and great salaries. Meanwhile, I was stumbling around, not knowing how I should build a new career. The only thing I was certain was I didn’t enjoy petroleum engineering, and I didn’t want to have a career in this industry. Better get out while I was still young, I thought.

My career isn’t a linear path, so I thought I’d reflect on the journey; from a reservoir engineer to a digital marketer. Have a cup of tea (or coffee), this will be quite a long read.

Reservoir engineer at an oil company

When I finished my masters’ degree, I applied to any vacancy I found. This was the first offer I got, and since beggars can’t be choosers, I took it. I realized pretty much early on that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working in petroleum engineering. While I liked dealing with the data and analysis, the subject really didn’t interest me at all (it never had, actually, and I’d felt that way since college). I didn’t have the drive and curiosity to learn more, and it just felt extremely tedious and draining. It wasn’t gratifying.

I said goodbye to the job and industry at the end of my contract, and I honestly never look back.

Photographer (for maternity and engagement shoots)

To be completely honest, I chose to do a photography business because that’s the only way out of my previous job (at least, the one that I could see). I’d been doing photography as a hobby and I loved capturing candid moments, so this seemed like a good idea. I began offering engagement, maternity, and event photo shoots.

What I didn’t realize was how much people in Indonesia loved staged photos, and they usually wished to be dolled up to the max. It was common for photographers to team up with makeup artists and businesses who rented props and costumes. Bigger names even had these in-house. Working alone, I covered shoots in far-flung corners of Jakarta (and beyond), the jobs which I mainly got from friends. I did this for less than a year, before moving on to the next gig.

Back in the early days of the photography business, when I asked ALL my friends who were getting engaged/married to shoot them for free to get photos for my portfolio.

Freelance writer

I had a stint of freelance writing at the beginning of 2017. At that time, I was counting down the days weeks until I moved to the UK, so there was no point in trying to find photography clients when I would be leaving soon. To earn some money, I started looking for freelance writing jobs through UpWork.

Although I’d only written mostly personal stuff on this blog, I found a few good pieces that I included in my portfolio. Soon, I got commissioned to write a few lifestyle articles, and after writing 3 articles for a company, they asked if I wanted to join them. I said yes, and that’s how I dove into digital marketing.

Content marketer at a small startup company

For the next 1.5 years, I worked remotely for this startup company. This job was an introduction to digital marketing (specifically content marketing), and I felt like I finally found my true love. A job that combined data and analytics with creative writing and photography? Yes please.

When I first joined, there wasn’t a content marketer position, so I pretty much built everything from scratch. I did all things related to content marketing, and I learned a lot here. From content production & distribution to SEO and inbound marketing, there’s just a lot to do as it’s a small startup company. I also did lots of campaigns, worked with app launch promotion, and built the brand community.

I genuinely loved the work, and to make things even sweeter, I earned more than I did as a reservoir engineer in Jakarta despite working only half the time. It was perfect as the first job in digital marketing, but eventually, things started to become repetitive and there wasn’t much chance for progression. That’s when I knew it was time to go.

Digital marketing consultant at a Swedish PR agency

When I resigned from the startup company, I was already in Sweden, with a full intention to start a career here. I got a job at a PR agency in Gothenburg as a digital marketing consultant. Like the previous job, I was the first person to fill the position. On top of that, I was the only person working directly with digital marketing at an agency full of PR consultants, so I had to wear a lot of hats. I worked with SEO, SEM, social media marketing, marketing automation, you name it.

It all became too much, and it was impossible to master anything when you tried to do all that many facets of digital marketing. Meanwhile, I was also was pressured to get fluent in Swedish in just less than 1 year. I became increasingly anxious and stressed, which led me to start a job search.

Content marketer at a B2B company

And that led me to my current job. Learning from my previous experience, I was a bit more picky this time with my job hunting. I was looking for a job with a company that was 1) medium- or large-sized, 2) global, or at least use English as the business language, 3) specific in inbound marketing, preferably dealing with B2B sales.

This job ticks all the boxes, and I was really stoked to get it. Now 7 months in, it’s been a big learning curve, but it also offers me the opportunity to learn almost everything that’s been on my list since 2 jobs ago. I work a lot with demand generation, coordinating with the product managers and sales teams to drive sales. I truly enjoy the job, and I get a kick every time I see good results. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really gratifying. There’s always something to look forward to, and I don’t take this for granted.

It’s been a long journey since I made the jump, but I’m happy I did it. Perhaps it took me longer to get here, but I’m on the right track. I’ve stopped comparing my trajectory to those of my peers’ since a long time ago. I think it happened the first time I felt truly fulfilled and content with my job, and where I was in my career path.

How about you? Do you work in the same area of your study, or have you made a career change?

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  • Reply aggy87

    It really takes a leap of faith to do what you did. Kudos to you for being brave! My career obviously got sidetracked and I now have to start from scratch. I did some freelance work when I could during my treatment so it occupied me a little. Now I teach at my former university, I never thought I would teach but here I am. It was quite overwhelming because I wasn’t only faced with new colleagues but also students..and there were so many of them haha. But it’s quite enjoyable so far, I haven’t got the hang of it just yet, still learning but I’ll get there eventually.

    July 6, 2020 at 2:51 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      It’s fascinating how we sometimes end up with things we didn’t even think of. Kudos to you as well for getting back on track and starting from scratch as well. I know from my close friends that teaching is hard, but also rewarding. I can imagine it must take some time to adapt and get the hang of it. Good luck for your new job, and I’m sure you will thrive! 🙂

      July 6, 2020 at 7:24 pm
  • Reply Wati

    Hej Dixie! Ini pas banget temanya dgn yg kita bicarain di meja makan saat makan malam dengan anak2 yg sudah mulai mikirkan penjurusan. Kita bilang ke si sulung, yang penting lulus SMA, kuliah di bidang yang disuka, karena liat aja mama papa kerjanya juga gak sesuai rencana awal. Di Jogja saya kuliah keguruan. Disini kuliah lagi engineering dari S1. Sekarang kerjanya sesuai dengan impian. Tetapi butuh waktu utk sampe ke yg sekarang. Jadi kita bilang ke si sulung, boleh jadi kamu akan juga nyoba-nyoba sebelum nemu yg sesuai panggilan jiwa, tapi gak apa. Hanya, lulus SMA itu harus krn susah kalo gak punya ijasah SMA. Yang kecil lebih fokus dan tahu yang ingin dilakukan. Tapi boleh jadi juga akan berubah minatnya. Itu menarik menurut kita. Proses pencariannya. Tugas kita nuntun aja, karena justru jarang kan yang langsung nemu dream job.

    Kamu brave, Dixie! Yang berani ambil langkah untuk meninggalkan pekerjaan yg tidak pas. Tidak semua nya berani berada di posisi itu krn berbagai alasan. Tapi, kalo gak ambil langkah kan tidak tahu apa yg ada di luaran sana kan? Dan selamat sudah menemukan yang dicari 💗

    July 6, 2020 at 4:30 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Makasih Mbak Wati. Aku ngerasa brave cuma salah satu faktor di balik keputusan ninggalin kerjaan yang ga pas Mbak. Aku termasuk privileged karena punya safety net buat lepasin kerjaan sambil nyoba hal2 baru sampe akhirnya dapet yang pas. Tapi aku setuju dgn yg Mbak bilang, it’s ok kalo nyoba2 dan sambiln nyari yang pas (apalagi mumpung masih muda). Jarang banget umur 16-17 gitu tau pasti apa yg mau dijalanin buat karir & dream jobnya, kalo pun tau orang juga bisa berubah seiring berjalannya waktu. Kalo pengalaman aku sendiri dulu, exposure ke bidang2 pekerjaan dikit banget pas masih SMA, jadi milih jurusan kuliah rasanya bingung dan jadinya agak ‘asal’. Yang aku kira bakal suka ternyata ngga juga, jadi belok deh. It all takes time, like you said to your son 😀

      July 6, 2020 at 7:32 pm
  • Reply kutubuku

    I graduated as Chemical Engineer (bachelor’s degree) in Indonesia, worked for awhile as chem engineer, shifted to being journalist for English daily in Indonesia for a couple of years before decided to take a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering in Denmark. Now working mostly as a Civil Engineer in my line of work as an engineering consultant. I miss the journalism world sometimes, but I excel in what I do now and earn a lot more, so there’s my consolation 🙂

    July 6, 2020 at 5:05 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Wow, Civil Engineering and journalist, that’s quite a big difference. In reality it’s rare to have the ideal way, having both the job you love and getting paid well. It’s great that you do and earn well in your current job, that’s a nice payoff 🙂

      July 6, 2020 at 7:40 pm
  • Reply Phebie | Life Essentially

    Pengalamannya keren banget, salut berani mengambil resiko. Memang kalau multitalenta harus paham yang diinginkan, ya.

    Bidang studi ku karena sifatnya sangat umum, jadi kerja di manapun selalu masih on the track, Saat studi lanjutan baru ambil yang spesifik. Tapi jangan salah, di satu bidang saja suka harus coba kiri kanan dulu sebelum tahu yang kita banget yang mana, cth apakah cocok di analyst atau lapangan.Tapi dunia semakin berkembang, banyak field baru yang dulu belum pernah ada, menariknya kan disitu.

    Ilmu apapun, yang penting pertama kali bisa dipakai buat diri sendiri dulu baru ke lingkup yang lebih luas. So di jalanin aja.

    July 9, 2020 at 11:14 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Iya betul, sekarang banyak muncul kerjaan2 baru yang dulu belum ada, dan sebaliknya juga ada kerjaan2 yang mulai obsolete entah karena bisa diganti teknologi, atau karena emang udah ga kepake. Emang kadang harus coba2 dulu ya baru bisa nemu yang pas, ga semua orang tau dari awal.

      July 17, 2020 at 12:03 pm
  • Reply Mira Afianti

    What a journey! Glad that you finally found the right one! I’m always interested into other people’s journey in finding their own path..

    I kinda changed my path as well, but not as extreme as yours. I studied Informatics Engineering and worked as Programmer for 4++ years. I loved my job, especially because I was asked to do design of the app while developing it as well. I’m a self-taught designer, an amateur one, though, but I love it. Doing programming and design at the same time, at that time I thought that I love the design more. So, after 4++ years working as a programmer, I changed my path and got a job as UI Designer. Did I love it? Not really. Turned out, being a full-time designer is not my cup of tea. I miss coding because I really love maths, logic, and structured thinking.

    That’s why when I choose a programme for my Master Degree, I choose computer science again, but this time I took specialization in Interaction Design. Here I didn’t learn how to design but more like the whys, which brought me into the Research field..

    After graduating, I knew that I want to be a UX Researcher. And that was one of my best decision. Especially now that I have to work with data and do the analytics, my computer science background helped me and my team to bring another perspective into our projects.

    Wow what a long comment, it feels like a short resume lol. I guess I could just make a posting out of this :))

    July 16, 2020 at 3:54 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Thank you Mira! And thank you for sharing your experience, I always love learning about other people’s career journeys as well. Many are not as straightforward as we think. I’m glad you made the right decision with your career and are thriving now. If you write this on your blog, I’d definitely love to read it! 🙂

      July 17, 2020 at 12:08 pm

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