I’ve been very fortunate in my work opportunities these last couple of years, seeing as I have no degree and I’ve been self-taught in almost all of the digital marketing skills I have. What started out as a goal 5 years ago has actually turned into reality – much to my surprise! And one of my biggest goals in pursuing digital marketing was to work for a fast-paced, cutting-edge marketing agency.
To me, this was the final validation for myself that maybe I could actually do this. It was also the validation that I knew what I was talking about. Self-education can often feel fragmented and overwhelming, so when you don’t have the experience of a structured environment, it’s hard to feel that you really know what you’re talking about.
So with that, I landed my first internship as a PR marketing coordinator at a small, California-based agency, followed by an apprenticeship with the largest privately held agency in the US.
This for me was HUGE. Especially as everyone else on my team had degrees and I did not.
And while these were easily some of the most valuable experiences that I’ve had regarding my work, they weren’t everything I dreamed they would be. They really opened my eyes to what a legit marketing agency was like – the structure, the level of professionalism, the attention to detail, the discipline, the problem-solving, and all of the many pieces and parts of a corporate machine required to please clients like Aeropostale, Etsy, Ancestry, Sony, E.l.f.. RiteAid, and practically every other large name you can think of.
This was a degree of organization that I simply had not seen before. And, while by the time I left I was highly regarded on my team for my work, it was really challenging.
My time spent there was also when I realized that, despite having reached my goal of working for a marketing agency, I couldn’t see my future working in this kind of setting. I don’t regret any of my time pursuing this path. It taught me so much that I didn’t know and made some really wonderful relationships. But here I also faced the reality that this path simply was not one that I would grow into.
Before getting into the reasons why I don’t plan on ever working in a large corporation again, I want to make a note that I don’t judge anyone who chooses this path. In fact, I have serious respect for the hustle and grind it actually takes to succeed under such high pressure and competition; Even more, I really appreciate the people who are more suited to this kind of work and thrive in it.
With that, here’s why I never plan on working a corporate job again.
1. Lack of Geographical Freedom
This was one of the biggest ones for me. Since I grew up traveling full-time with my family, living in one place and having to stay there for work just doesn’t cut it for me. My upbringing definitely ruined me for a normal, stable life, but I’m okay with that.
Do you mean to tell me that I can’t move to Spain for 6+ months, get a visa, get tax breaks, and enjoy living where my money goes further? No overlooking the beach from my favorite cafes? Even Mexico, where I’m in the same time zone?
Nope. Having remote, international employees can make it a nightmare for companies and their taxes, so it’s often challenging to convince your employer to let you move overseas. And from what I’ve heard this is quite common regardless of the industry you’re working in.
I was offered a position within the agency’s own branding team (which was a huge opportunity for me), however, after a lot of consideration had to decline due to my desire to travel.
2. Modern Society Feels Like a Scam – Jobs Included.
Now this might be really controversial, but the more time goes on, the more I realize that most of what we see is a setup that benefits a certain tier of people, generally at the expense of everyone else. Also, the lower on the totem pole you happen to be, the more obstacles are in your way that make it incredibly difficult to overcome and thrive.
Much of this will be a topic for another time, however.
So what exactly about jobs seems like a scam? Well, it’s actually the entire system that works in sync with them. High taxes, 401Ks where you can only continue financing the world’s wealthiest individuals, social security (and 401ks) where your decades of work and saving will disappear due to inflation and poor government policies, 2-week vacations/year, poor work/life balance. bank-regulated ESG scores, office politics, health mandates…I could go on.
I just don’t believe that you’re supposed to go to work for most of your life, sacrifice your health and time, climb the career ladder, and get trapped in a cycle of consumerism and high taxes (to where you can’t get out), live for the weekend, and let your desire for purpose, family, and freedom from life go to die.
It might sound dramatic, but this is quite literally what it felt like to me.
Who says I can’t work part-time and make triple the salary? Who says I can’t monetize the things I love and live my dream life wherever the hell I damn well please? Who says there aren’t other options for long-term investing, tax benefits, better weather, better cost of living, and more freedom?
Actually, no one says, the options are just never presented or taught because that would be a little too much autonomy in your life. But I digress. Nothing about years – let alone decades – of my life pursuing these “normal” goals feels in alignment with reality. Because of that, I’ve chosen to try to find alternatives to are more in alignment with my beliefs, personality, and desires.
3. The 40-Hour Work Week and Hormones
This was something I’ve unfortunately found out the hard way, but the modern 40-hour workweek was built for men. If you don’t know much about how crazy different men and women’s hormones work, I’d highly recommend going down the rabbit hole on this one.
Just a quick summary: Men operate on a steady, 24-hour hormonal cycle. Women operate on a 28-30-day cycle. BIG difference. Personally, I’m not even the same person from one week to the next, and that’s thanks to how women’s hormones work. Our energy levels, motivation, moods, and quite literally everything else about us operate on this cycle and have a nature of their own.
What part about suppressing this beautiful, flowing nature into a rigid, 40-hour workweek like a machine makes sense? To me, it simply doesn’t. Part of this might be due to my sensitive nature, but I regularly struggle with hormone imbalances under this kind of stress, which quickly leads to burnout which utterly throws my world off track. Not fun.
Surely there’s a better way to make money and create an impact in the world? I applaud women who are able to maintain this rigidity, I really do – especially because they often have to.
However, on my mission to live more authentically, take better care of myself, and live more purposefully and in alignment with nature, this is something I really am dedicated to avoiding unless absolutely necessary.
4. The Specialization Trap
This, along with most of these reasons, is very particular to my own nature. I have a lot of interests and am a very intuitive thinker. This doesn’t always bode well in a corporate setting, as employers are often looking for a highly developed, single skill set to add to their company.
I would too, but I don’t want to be one.
One thing I really struggled with is how little acceptance there can be for someone with multiple skills and affinities. A lot of it I think is a more traditional way of thinking, but some of the most impactful people on the planet are highly-developed in multiple areas.
Furthermore, with AI on the scenes now, the more specialized jobs will be the first to outsource, and spending time learning only one skill and being unable to pivot when necessary, sounds like a bad idea. Sure, you need to focus, I completely am in support of this. But personally being well-rounded in multiple things has gotten me more opportunities than being good at just one thing.
This is my two cents though, only time will tell!
5. Lack of Purpose
This is another really really big one. According to research done by Andrew Naber, we spend approximately 90,000 hours of our lives working. Others say that this timeframe is approximately 48 years. That’s a LOT of your life!
Will you be satisfied with how you’ve utilized 48 years of your life? If your answer is no, then maybe reconsider what you’re doing.
For me, if I don’t have a meaningful challenge in front of me, it’s extremely difficult to do anything. Maybe this is my mix of disagreeableness and very high openness on the Big 5 results – or maybe I just lack discipline. Maybe a mix of both. But not doing something meaningful with my time seriously grates on me and living knowing that you’re deeply unfulfilled with your life is no way to live.
Building skills, learning to take and manage risks, and doing something where I feel like I’m able to give my fullest to the world in some meaningful way just beats about every other option.
6. ESG Scores vs. Free Market Demand
I’m bringing in all of the controversial topics today! While many would argue that ESG scores for business contribute to social good, I’d actually argue that they’re a bandaid for real issues and a coercive control mechanism of the market at best.
I have a strong thing against banks – read the Creature From Jekyll Island and you’ll see why. Thus, limiting funding and growth opportunities for businesses because they don’t fit into a certain ideology of the moment, dictated again by a very select few, jeopardizes the free market. I’d also be inclined to say that this is intentional, but I don’t actually know. It just all really seems off to me.
That said, marketing (aka the people) ultimately has ALL the power when it comes to which companies succeed and which don’t, but this consequently shifts all of the responsibility on the consumer to make conscious decisions and forgo convenience at times to uphold their values.
How many people do you know who do this? Probably not many. I struggle with this too. That said, this is probably an odd thing to include in this list, but it really irks me. I’ll probably write a whole blog on this topic at a later date.
And I believe in this strongly enough to not want to participate in it.
7. Poor Work/Life Balance
This one is definitely a catch-22, and no country I’ve been to yet has this one figured out (if it does please let me know ASAP!). To have a thriving economy, opportunities, and the chance to build wealth in your lifetime, you need an economy built around business and innovation. Competition, naturally, emerges from this too and it has driven so much growth and new ideas into the world, which is amazing.
On the flip side, maintaining this level of business growth requires a tremendous amount of labor and resources to maintain – which is employees. We are obsessed with work in American culture, and money, possessions, and social status dictate whether you’re a failure or a success. But it has cost us dearly when it comes to mental health, quality of life, relationships, and personal development.
It’s pretty hard to build your life when you’re constantly building for someone else just to get by. After spending a lot of time around Europe and seeing how much happier a lot of people tend to be because they have time, family, quality relationships, good food, better healthcare, and art all around them – it makes you realize just how important these things are.
Unfortunately, this also means that the economy suffers, and young people have to leave countries like these if they want any opportunities to better their lives.
Can we ever find a balanced approach to this? I don’t know, but I do know I can work remotely and immerse myself in these cultures, enjoying the benefits of both.
It’s not a long-term solution for anyone else, of course, however, this is something I spend a lot of time thinking about.
8. Hourly Work and Salaries
It’s not how well you do the work that matters, but that you show up and put your hours in. Okay, not entirely true, but it does feel this way.
If you do your work well, your reward is often more work for the same pay. This doesn’t really seem that motivating for a good employee, but maybe I’m missing something here.
For me, results matter far more than time spent because if you think critically and creatively, that’s the way to solve problems and create more efficient systems. This is how we innovate, and make more time for the things that matter. However in a corporate job what matters is that you show up every day, put in your hours (and maybe then some), and don’t cost the company too much money.
And regardless of how incredible of an employee you are, they’ll still replace you in 2 seconds if you drop dead tomorrow.
Something about this just doesn’t seem like an efficient use of resources.
9. Nothing is Risk-Free – Including a “Safe” Corporate Job
Last on my list is something that a lot of people might not want to hear, but your safe, secure job is not safe and secure. In fact, nothing is. Having this mindset guarantees that when something unexpected happens – you’re laid off, AI takes over your whole field, the economy tanks – you didn’t take other skills seriously enough to mitigate that risk.
The most “risk-free” thing you can do, in my eyes, is to develop skills, education, mindset, and resilience, and to create your own opportunities. Why? Because these are the only things that can never be taken away from you regardless of how bad the economy gets, how many people your company lets go, or what new technologies emerge. Amongst plenty of other risks, of course.
These are lifelong skills to be developed, sure, but I do think they ultimately give you more power, options, and ability to adapt in life which to me is better risk management.
Being an entrepreneur has so, so many of its own challenges that you really don’t learn to appreciate until you’ve lived through them. However, the self-reliance, freedom, creativity, and flexibility of doing your own thing as opposed to being in the corporate machine somewhere vastly outweigh the challenges. To me, anyway.
And if you’re curious about what I’ve done on my own since, you can check out my business Nordover Creative here.