Cottage Industry

20121224-154038.jpgLooking back, my disappearance from blogging also syncs up roughly with starting a full-time job this summer. Since the job was only starting as a temporary contract position, and I didn’t want people to stop helping me look for something permanent, I didn’t say a whole lot about it publicly until things settled down somewhat. I guess now that I’ve left, it’s about as settled down as it’s going to get, so I can catch up a little bit.

Back in early July, I started working as a marketing communications specialist for Cottage Senior Living, which operates 10 assisted living facilities in Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, along with The Commons, Huntsville’s first 55+ Active Adult Community.

It was, to put it mildly, an interesting experience. I don’t know that my career has ever taken me into a world quite so unknown to me, and the family that founded CSL were early pioneers in the area of senior living, so I had a unique opportunity to learn about that domain from someone who was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about it, and who had a singular vision.

But, to be honest, one of the things I loved most about the job was the toys. During my original interview, they wanted me to demonstrate my design and layout abilities, so they had me put together a quick dummy newspaper ad. It was the first time I’d played with print design tools in years, and the first time I’d done newspaper-style design in over a decade. I probably worked a little longer and harder on it than I needed to simply because I was having so much fun. And when I was hired, designing for newspapers was a regular part of the job. It was a really great experience to get to go back and use skills that I’d not dusted off in 10 years one more time, and to be applying them in new ways. And newspaper ads were only a fraction of it — I got to script radio ads and help plan a video, among other projects. It was very special to me that, on the last day I worked there, I had my design work published in The Huntsville Times, where I started my professional career, for the first time in 20 years. That was just neat.

I also particularly enjoyed my work promoting The Commons. As a new project, there was a good bit of room for some creativity in planning an advertising campaign, and, when I pitched my concepts, I have never felt more like Darren Stevens on “Bewitched.” The Commons team was great folks, and I really liked working with them.