How Jocelyn Johnson redesigned her career after a job loss

by | Sep 13, 2022

Jocelyn Johnson, graphic designer and member of the We Are Rosie community.
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Silence. It’s the sound of an inbox or a voicemail without the ping of new assignments coming in. And it’s something independent workers can dread, especially when the economy is as unpredictable as it has been since March 2020.

In times like these, avoiding that silence—and keeping your income steady—can mean re-thinking how you work. Maybe you’ll apply your skills to new industries, or transition from having one big consulting client to juggling several smaller ones.

Shifting can be a survival tactic, but it can also help you thrive in the long run. Just ask graphic designer Jocelyn Johnson.



When a job loss requires a career redesign


Jocelyn spent seven years working with Chick-fil-A, as a full-time consultant via annual contracts. But when the COVID-19 lockdown hit, what had been reliable and stable work was suddenly gone. Jocelyn was left to consider other options.

“I really wanted to find another full-time design contract as soon as possible, but waiting for companies to begin hiring again—especially the companies I preferred to work with—became too unpredictable and stressful,” she recalls. “I wanted to keep designing and not let too much time slip by.”

She filled the gap by taking on freelance project-based work as well as long-term part-time contracts, including with We Are Rosie. But the transition wasn’t always easy or comfortable.

“To be honest, I struggled finding the confidence to stand alone,” Jocelyn says. “Having previously worked with teams, where everyone collaborates and shares responsibilities, it can be hard to convince yourself and others that you have what it takes to successfully handle multiple roles on your own.”



Embracing diversity and flexibility for freelance success


More by necessity than choice, Jocelyn forged ahead. She took on new projects and launched her business, Jocelyn Designs. Along the way, she discovered two keys to thriving independently in an unpredictable economy: embracing diversity of projects and developing flexibility as a personal strength.

“By taking on both freelance projects and part-time contracts,” she says, “I was able to give myself the time and flexibility I needed to simultaneously build my own brand and maintain a reliable income.”

“Frankly, I’m still kind of adjusting to doing both freelance and part-time contract work. It can actually be a little confusing some days figuring out which hat I’m wearing today. For We Are Rosie, I’m a presentation designer, but for my own company, I do a little bit of everything.”



Independent work doesn’t mean unstable work


What Jocelyn didn’t initially appreciate was that combining one-off projects with part-time contracts would ultimately provide her with greater income stability, which is particularly helpful in a turbulent economy.

“Being diversified in this way has definitely provided additional stability,” she says. “There’s no question about that. If I lose one opportunity, I always seem to have other things I can focus on.”

Still, income stability is only one of the benefits Jocelyn has found in her new approach to independent working.

“I’ve learned to pivot more quickly and easily than when I was in a full-time contract role,” she says. “It’s given me the opportunity to show up in different ways for different clients and do certain types of work I didn’t previously have access to.”

“I think the biggest benefit is that I get to choose who I work with, how I work, when I work, the type of work I do, and the price I charge for that work. I’d been used to always prioritizing my clients’ needs, but this space allows me to prioritize my own needs, as well.”

And as Jocelyn’s launched this new phase of her career, having We Are Rosie in her corner has helped.

“It gives me the opportunity to work on a variety of projects with a variety of clients, which is great exposure,” she says. “The team I work with at We Are Rosie is wonderful; it’s so nice to have people that can connect me with good work and good clients.”



From turbulent times to new opportunities


Jocelyn used to believe that her only options were to either work full-time for someone else or full-time as a freelancer, going from project to project. She now understands there’s a hybrid approach that was always there, but she just didn’t see it.

“It’s clear to me now that it’s necessary to be open to change before it actually happens. It’s helpful to view each new client and project as an opportunity for exploration and growth instead of as a lifeline. Freelance life forces you to learn and grow in ways you never expected.”

“My advice to anyone considering independent work is to think bigger and be prepared to fail along the way. Explore your talents and flex muscles you might not even know you have. You’re capable of more than what some structures and systems provide for. You may think of yourself, for example, as simply a content developer, but in reality you’re much more than that.”

Looking to build your career as an independent marketing expert just like Jocelyn has? We Are Rosie connects you to flexible, remote work opportunities plus all the support you need to thrive. Join our community today.

Written by Rick Reger
Rick Reger is an independent writer and editor based in the Chicago suburbs. He has over 30 years of professional experience, spanning journalism, marketing and public relations. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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