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I'm staring out the desk-to-ceiling window of my beautiful 12 x
16 square-foot office, contemplating how to creatively maximize my
company's new retail initiative through our ever-evolving strategic
plan, when I get a call from a dear friend from college. She tells
me she needs a root canal and isn't sure how to pay for it. I offer
the standard, “Thank god for insurance, eh?” She laughs and asks,
“What insurance?” I sigh in response.
People joke about their fears of being stuck in the corporate
world: the business-casual dress clothes, the preppy haircuts, the
ex-fraternity/sorority mentality. I can understand completely. Yet
here I am, enjoying my fresh Organic Peruvian Brew (we drink only
the best), reveling in the glory of my recently upgraded 401(k)
with stock options. Life isn't so bad from in here. The air
conditioner always works; my shiny new Mac hums along to the ring
of the latest IP phone next to it. I am definitely not trying to
figure out if I need to take out a Heloc against my mortgage to
cover the cost of a few new teeth.
Conversely, I am terrified of life outside the “inside.” What
agency would want to hire a business-minded marketing creative and
production manager? Will I be able to continue to use my head when
everyone else designs from their heart? Won't my feet ache from the
concrete floors? Do I still know how to switch gears from project
to project? Maybe I'm just not as cool as everyone else, in their
exclusive design communes.
The truth is, my lifelong design dream would be to work at REI's
corporate headquarters. Yes, I am a granola design girl that
actually enjoys meetings. I have found my niche. I am the “weird
chick” with a fro-hawk who has a Jeep Wrangler instead of a Jaguar
(complete with an actual bumper sticker of a white Apple logo). I
have a collection of artsy posters and assorted creative
memorabilia on my office walls. I bought my Casual Friday shoes
online at the Simple website—no Jimmy Choos or designer jeans for
Despite the raised eyebrows, there are plenty of reasons why I
enjoy my job. I often get to flex my “outside the box” thinking
while sitting in all sorts of business pow-wows. People call me
when they need a creative business development idea. I have plenty
of time to be involved in several committees (gotta love
corporations) and belong to numerous local organizations and
nonprofits. I get to develop branded product lines, work on both
internal and external communication collateral, oversee our
corporate culture's look and feel, and get my hands on every
creative project our department touches. Let's talk project
diversity! I am constantly inspired by the outside world, by what
every company could be if they took the initiative. Lucky for me,
I'm at that type of company.
If you're debating whether or not you should apply for the
corporate marketing associate position you saw advertised in the
paper, consider these five questions:
And let's be clear, it's not always hard—I have plenty of
vacation time, and I have earned the respect of my peers having
recently become a board member of my local AIGA chapter. I have,
though, been barraged with disdainful inquiries: “Oh, you're
in-house, huh?” “What's the coolest project you worked on last
year, a newsletter?” “Ahhh, I see, so do you actually like your
job?” And my all-time favorite: “Couldn't you find anything else?”
To answer everyone at once, I absolutely love my job and wouldn't
step outside the “inside” for anything.
Plus, I just got my teeth cleaned and it only cost me $10.
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