The Upside of a Career Break-up

Walking out of RGP Technology, the sun was high and bright against the crystal blue sky, and I was confident they were going to offer me the position. I was also confident my answer would be no.

I slid into my 2-door coupe, and my mind started arguing with itself. “Are you crazy? You’ve never made this much money before, and you’re going to turn it down?”

Simply put, yes.

I was bored playing it safe. Although I had a natural knack for business and finance, it wasn’t something I enjoyed forty, fifty, sixty hours a week. So at thirty-four, I went back to school for another degree — one that aligned with my artistic passion, a degree in graphic design.

I didn’t know any better the first time around. At seventeen, I thought everyone bought books and music based on the look of their covers, that it was normal to have stacks of magazines piled high against your bedroom wall as a compilation of visual inspiration, nor did I know being editor of your high school yearbook could align with a job in the real world.

Some may say I had a bad guidance counselor, but my problem was I had an interest in too much. The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I was six undeclared majors into a discombobulated coursework profile. I knew I needed to finalize a plan.

Thumbing through the thick and worn college catalog, I found the only degree that would graduate me within my four-year schedule. Mission accomplished. I sat back and daydreamed of the high-rise building, corner office, designer threads, and big bucks that were destined to follow. Little did I know that first degree would only get me partial satisfaction.

So here I was, once again a new grad, interviewing for a position that was eerily similar to what I was trying to get away from. A position filled with numbers and contracts and tedious detail. But the money was enticing. Very enticing. On paper, the position was a perfect fit, but my heart knew it was not going to get me where I wanted to go.

I glanced down as the phone rang. It was my recruiter.

“Hey Greg, just wrapped up the interview and feel it went really well.”

“Yeah” he said excitedly, “I just got off the phone with Dan. They want to offer you the position.”

He carried on like Charlie Brown’s teacher; fading wah wah’s as our conversation played out like an “it’s not you, it’s me” break-up. By the time we hung up, Greg was not happy. He was losing out on his money too, and he just couldn’t comprehend where I was coming from. He even called back later with a ten-percent salary increase. Again, I said no. Out of desperation he told me it would be years before I’d ever make that kind of money in graphic design. I silently chuckled “that man has no clue how determined I am.”

Just a few days after turning down that perfect-on-paper position, I had another lead, and I landed that contract. It was official; I was a Graphic Designer. That contract ended, and I got another. Then that contacted ended, and I got another. Learning and growing along the way.

It only took eight months to be offered a permanent design position matching RGP’s initial offer. I considered calling Greg to let him know but decided against it. My personal satisfaction was enough.

I was in the field I wanted to be in. The field I had gone back to school for. And this was just the beginning.


* Company name and individual names may or may not be accurate. Those tedious details, six years later, are a bit foggy.

©2021 Angel K Will
Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

My first poetry collection — GOD is so much more — was just released. Check it out in the bookstore by clicking here.

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