I thought about leaving my job about a year before I actually did. I was working for a 10-person nonprofit arts organization that had been around for over 80 years, but the last few years have not been the best for arts organizations.
I started as a social media manager in a three-person marketing department. Six months later one of my colleagues left. I absorbed all of her duties—blog writing, email marketing and the kicker: graphic design and event planning. I had no graphic training, but I threw myself in and was enjoying it until my old-school executive director started rejecting my visual ideas, but couldn’t tell me why she didn’t like them.
“I don’t like the red,” she said one time, after I told her to ignore the colors because I could change those. I was spending all my time and energy on these digital-art-project guessing games. I’d happened upon this role, and as a type A perfectionist, I wanted to be awesome at it.
But then I had a moment of clarity: I realized graphic design was never something I wanted to pursue. So why was I killing myself over some logos? Enter the question: What do I want? The answer: The opposite of what I had.
The person next in age from me was at least four years older, and she left too. Everyone else was 10 years above that. I was at the bottom of the totem pole in that way. Technically, I was managed by everyone, but I didn’t have any direct one-on-one management relationship with anyone.
Antiquated systems, old school mentalities, and the graphic work—these weren’t things I wanted to pursue in my career. I wanted to be a marketer—and an excellent one—but mostly I wanted to be relevant in the marketing economy. I needed a change.
I wanted data. I wanted tech. I wanted forward thinking. I wanted a bigger company with resources to get shit done.
“Enter the question: What do I want? The answer: The opposite of what I had.”
After completing an eight-week program for emerging marketers, I had to choose between two offers, one in a 30-person digital agency writing content, and another as a marketing specialist working at a 600-person global software company. The latter paid less, but in the end, I decided to step as far away from my past experience with small agencies as possible. Plus, how do you know what you love until you do it, right?
So far I feel like I made the right choice. I’m up to my head in data. Everything is trackable and optimizable. I’m nerding out researching and demoing tools that might help me be better at my job, and I have the freedom to do so. Everyone is open to new ideas. Maybe it’s still the honeymoon phase, but even in that time I have learned so much.