During college, I thrived on quick deadlines and self-induced procrastination. When the pressure was on, I often produced my best work. So being ambitious and having a fast-paced work ethic, I figured I could do anything - any job is just another job, right? Wrong. It was like having the most peaceful dream in the deepest sleep, then having someone dump ice water on your face, then slap you when you jump up screaming.
In late spring of 2007, I moved to Birmingham to accept a Commercial Producer position at Alabama's largest website - al.com. (No, I didn't literally produce commercials.) It didn't take long to realize it was sink or swim. I was thrown to the wolves within the first week or so; there was no "breaking in" the new guy. Then again, when your back's against the wall, there's really no other option, and I'm not one for quitting because I can't hack it.
There was a minimum 48-hour turnaround rule (presumably created to give Commercial Producers a reasonable time to produce for the account execs)... though no one in sales seemed to ever acknowledge or abide by it. Thus, my world was uber fast-paced and high stress. On the typical day, I'd have somewhere between 4-6 ad jobs to complete. At some point over the "Great Recession" summer of 2008 everyone realized the economy was all better, which resulted in 22 jobs falling in my lap in a two-day span - including me being responsible for producing over 200 individual ad units. I can hang my hat on those two days... not a single job fell through the cracks, and they were all completed on time without a hitch. I felt like taking a bath with my toaster when I got home.
It eventually became just another drop in the bucket. Ironically there were only two of us (Commercial Producers); two people to produce and provide essentially all creative involved in al.com's not-so-little world. Two people to create and manage al.com's sub-sites, ad units, email newsletters, online advertisements and print ads. So more or less anything you saw on the site with any creative punch to it, we had a hand in it. That's a lot of stuff - for two people.
In addition to my desk job where I created graphics and worked with code, I also got the opportunity to take on a handful of specialty projects like shooting the 2008 Alabama class 6A Final Four (pictured above), where I watched DeMarcus Cousins' lose his final game as a high school basketball player.
Although the projects were a lot of fun, they ultimately proved to be few and far between. Finally, after more than 3 years of hitting a glass ceiling with virtually no room for growth, and feeling like a very small cog in a massive machine, I left...