It’s never easy figuring out exactly what it is what you want to do with your life – especially when you’re a fresh college grad at 22 (I was 23). There’s an immense amount of pressure to snag not only the best offer, but a job, because even getting an offer can prove to be extremely challenging.
After interning with Macy’s as a “store manager,” I had told myself that any other position would be more suitable for my interests. I had worked retail jobs throughout high school and college, and was done with it. Done with the insane hours, the lack of routine, the insane customers, and the lack of satisfaction of managing people and folding clothes.
After graduating, I was referred to Macy’s Buying/Planning Executive Development Program (you can see ME here, as the face of Macy’s EDP)!:
I accepted what seemed to be an incredible offer. High starting salary (or at least way more than what I was expecting), and the chance to utilize my creative skills rather than working in a retail store. I was going to CORPORATE. I was going to be the figure whom retail managers feared. My friends labeled me as their most successful friend. All was well.
Throughout my time there, I realized more and more every day that merchandising simply was not the career path I had ever envisioned for myself. Not only was the future of the company unknown, the company culture shockingly cut-throat and miserable (sorry, Macy’s…but really – not sorry to admit it), and layoffs happening on the daily, but I had an extremely difficult time being inspired by selling apparel online that no one actually was buying (thanks, Amazon).
When things started getting worse and worse with the company and my happiness, and when I came to terms that I must leave the retail industry, I quit. I quit my ~$60,000 job with immense amount of benefits and 401k at the ripe age of 24, right before the summer began.
How would I survive living on Manhattan unemployed? Thankfully, I had a huge savings account from commuting to and from the suburbs for a year (I try not to think about it, though). And so, I had plenty of time to decide the next step of my career, and travel in the meantime.
Here’s the problem: when you allow yourself to get stuck in a career path you have little passion for in exchange for an ideal salary and benefits, you are bound to hit a crisis at some stage in your life. I realized just how important it is to love what you’re doing when my entire life became dedicated to my job (and I don’t only mean the JOB, but also commuting to and from that job for 3+ hours a day).
I have struggled throughout my life feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied. It couldn’t go on any longer. I needed a more welcoming environment where people didn’t try to take credit for your work, throw you under the bus, or have part of your performance rated by undeniable shrinking sales numbers that you could not possibly fix (cough, Amazon).
After an incredible summer of 2017 traveling, acting (I mean, kind of), meditating, taking on a contract position at a startup in content marketing, and “living my best life” in NYC, I am now on track to the next stage in my career: social media marketing and advertising. Something I’ve always been interested and passionate about. Something that’s not selling apparel at a sinking ship. Something that inspires me. Yes, I’m a millennial who enjoys social media – but how cool is it to turn your hobby into a career? I’m no social media influencer, but I’m fascinated by the business side of such a creative career.
I quit my high-paying job with no job prospects at 24 years old to take time to figure out what I wanted to do. I’m finding my passion. I’m living my life the way I want to live it, and not at the expense of sacrificing my creativity and well-being for a dying brand.
Call me entitled. Maybe our parents wouldn’t have made the same move 30 years ago. But life doesn’t revolve around being stuck in a job you don’t enjoy.
I guess I can’t recommend everyone does the same, unless you have a good savings account and/or still living at home. But if you want to create a path of success and fulfillment, being afraid to leave your job is the most costly thing you can do.
-mike, the average millennial