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My Career in Question

What does the future have in store?

By Nicole FennPublished 5 months ago Updated 5 months ago 10 min read
Top Story - July 2023
My Career in Question
Photo by John Schaidler on Unsplash

Just bear with me here, this is something I've been meaning to get off my chest for a while now. But the whole ordeal was jumpstarted again with a conversation I had just the day prior to me writing this.

I've been put in a rather precarious situation at work a little more than a year ago, a situation I thought would be resolved rather quickly. However, it's been a year and 3 months, and still, the situation persists to the point where it's driving me to a sort of breaking point.

A year ago, my manager quit, just days before she was supposed to return from her maternity leave. I was already a team of one for a few months as my coworker had quit later the previous year, but it was a situation I thought would be temporary.

Going back a little bit, the job I work now, I was hired as the Marketing Coordinator with my main responsibilities involving myself being the in-house Graphic Designer, brand keeper, and Trade Show Manager. The first year went great at this job and I was excited with this as my first real taste of being a Graphic Designer in a professional setting.

Keep in mind, please, I have no marketing experience. My degree from college is a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, I have two minors in Photography and Creative Writing, and I pretty much started my design interest and education during my freshman year of high school. And art in general has been in my life since I was little - but I'll get back to this point.

Now, when my manager quit - that was it - it was just me. No training, no experience, no help in trying to get my feet off the ground once being knocked down like this. I was a given raise, a new office, given agencies to work with in fields I absolutely did not have the qualifications or experience to do myself. My new "manager" was the VP of Sales, myself also being integrated into the Sales Department, and now - I was being referred to within and outside of the company as "the Marketing Guru". Or, to those who don't know me even within the company, the "girl who's probably in sales, I don't know".

And I hate it.

And when people ask me, "Well, have you brought this up to anyone?" I say, well yes, of course. I brought my concerns up to both my current manager and even the CEO during a meeting I remember my hands shaking fiercely beforehand. Concerns about what I'm missing and what I'm unable to bring to the table for the company as the "Marketing Department" because I have no experience or education to recognize these opportunities. I brought up possible solutions, and what I could bring to the table as the company's designer and brand keeper. And yet, it felt as if at the end of that meeting, I was given a proverbial pat on the head and told,

"We're looking for someone (a Marketing Manager)."

And that was that.

That meeting was 6-7 months ago as I write this now...and I am still alone.

Still alone, still referred to as the "Marketing Guru", still in the dark about everything going on regarding what the hell is going to happen to this company's Marketing Department and their marketing in general.

But, yesterday, during a weekly meeting I have with one of the agencies I work with - a conversation happened that almost broke me.

"You're almost 3 years into this position, maybe you should think about what you really want to do going into the future, especially with this company and marketing."


When I was younger, I always remember gravitating towards art. Coloring, painting, watercolor, and photography when I got my first digital camera to take to Disney World.

Writing - I just found an old journal of mine the other day that I wrote in when I was about 9 or so, and the stories killed me, but I was honestly impressed at how well they still kind of held up! I always remember writing too when I was younger. Then, as a preteen, I discovered 750 and have stories I wrote when I was around 13 or so. When my dad's work was throwing away these janky old laptops, my dad snatched a few since they still worked fine. And regardless of needing a router to plug into the laptop to access the internet, I just remember always using Word to write anything and everything.

When I was even younger, my sister and I went to daycare. Even here, when they would have multiple activities to do - anything art related, I was there. Sometimes I was even the only person, sometimes it was with a friend or two. I just always remember gravitating toward art.

In elementary school, I had my heart set on being an Art Teacher. I loved the art classes I had, trying new things in these classes, and every art teacher I had was a saint in their own right. So kind and compassionate and motivating. Going into 5th and 6th grade, I even remember getting an invitation from the art teacher to join the art club they had after school. We'd pretty much create anything and everything we wanted, some even doing ongoing projects with pottery, weaving, paintings, etc.

But, when it came to high school, my mom asked me the question we all expect at some point in our lives. "What do you want to do after school? What do you want to be?" And she was genuine about it since I really hadn't expressed anything really specific up until this point. I told her I honestly really wasn't sure, I just know I really like to be creative. And that's when she suggested taking a few design classes at my high school. I was skeptical since those classes also involved printing - but my mom's worked in the printing industry pretty much since I was born, that's what I grew up in.

So, I took the chance and scheduled these design classes. At the time, I wasn't aware of how much I'd come to love these classes and pretty much live in the graphics room.

My freshman year of high school is where it all started. Adobe, the Creative Suite, Photography, screen printing, offset printing, getting OSHA certified, and passing the NOCTI exams for Graphic Design during my senior year. I even had a logo design chosen to be printed on thousands of t-shirts for my hometown's 200th anniversary - which I also helped to screen print with a team of students and a 7-8 arm printing press.

And it was fun. Those classes were pretty much the highlight of my days in high school. It was no question then, as I was going into college, that I wanted my major to be in Graphic Design.

College was very different, but I still felt prepared for it. Having gained the knowledge I did in high school, I had no problems when it came to typography, color theory, layout design, hierarchy, all the Adobe programs, and photography. Granted, I was doing more when it came to projects, utilizing these skills with logo design, publication design, and so on. After designing a few books, logos, brands, and fonts, I honestly couldn't tell you every project I did in college, haha!

Then, when I graduated with my degree in hand, I was hopeful of what the world could possibly offer for a recent Graphic Designer grad.

Of course, a global pandemic wasn't on the list, neither was being unemployed, lost, and unsure of the future.


Now, every Tuesday, at my current job, I have a meeting with the one of two agencies I work with. This agency helps with managing our emailing system, Marketo, our leads we get from varying mediums, and email campaigns. These guys were originally brought on by my previous manager and have known her for years, even before she had worked for my current company. It was a bit awkward then to start working with them and 1) not knowing what the hell they did and 2) not wanting to say anything bad about my previous manager. I was and still am very upset with how she left and the lack of anything she left me with - but I digress - it was a weird start (at least to me) of myself and this agency working together.

But, it's been a little over a year of us working together now, and while I still have no idea what they do and every meeting goes over my head, they've become pleasant people to at least talk to. Yesterday's meeting, however, triggered something really defensive within me that I'm still wrestling with a day later.

They know my situation, they know how over my head I am, and how my plate is overflowing every day with things I need to do. And it's not only with my original responsibilities but all other tasks I had to take up since becoming the only person in the department. And they commend me for it, say I'm doing a really great job in just, honestly, picking everything up and still keeping things moving. Even if it's doing things I have no experience in.

This is where the conversation went south a little. The main guy, I believe he's the owner of the company, is both sales and marketing literate - of course. And he knows I'm art-centric, knows I went to Adobe Max last year and threw out the rhetorical question, "Would it be great to meet up in person at a marketing-based conference?" Now, meeting these guys in person would be great, it was the other part of the question, and what he was implying that rubbed me the very wrong way.

Attend a marketing-based conference. Digital Summit, a conference that's actually going to be in my area in October. But, it's "the most innovative digital marketing conference series". And I believe them! And while there is the bullet point "Creative and Design" in their list of about 30 or so bullet points, it was his words that followed that turned me off entirely.

"You're almost 3 years into this position, maybe you should think about what you really want to do going into the future, especially with this company and marketing."

But, what I heard was, "In your current position, you need to consider switching over to Marketing instead of being so focused on Design."

As if that's something I even wanted or was thinking about in the first place. As if this isn't a conversation I've had already with someone about how my company wanted to hire another designer just so I could do everything else while they essentially do my original job.

It's the fact that people are dismissing why I'm actually here, dismissing my design capabilities and job. Focusing instead on how I'm just a hardworking person, and what you give me I will do no matter what. But that's not why I'm here, to be the Marketing Admin. And it's been giving me the absolute worst case of imposter syndrome I've ever experienced.

Now, I'm trying not to sound too harsh, trying to reel myself in as much as I can, but after that meeting, I had an incredibly sour taste in my mouth - and it wasn't from the lunch I had beforehand.'m sorry, what?

Sure, let's throw away all 8 years of schooling I had leading up to this, let's throw away my $50,000 4-year degree in Design to completely take on a whole new career that I just don't want - because these guys think they know what's best for myself and the company.

And like, partially, I get it. I'm in a tough spot, the company is in a tough spot, but people are treating me as if I'm going to be with the company for 10, 15, 20 years into the future - and I need to step up and take on the Marketing Department and be that Marketing Manager, that Marketing Guru! to really transform the company, to take on the logistics, to process leads, work in programs I've never heard of before, to sit at my computer and answer emails like an admin machine!

Not like I haven't already paused after staring at an Excel sheet of numbers and pricing for our products after updating the descriptions for these products, did I tell myself almost out loud "I'm a designer, what the hell am I actually doing with my life?"

No, I'm 26. I'm a Graphic Designer, I'm a Writer, a Photographer, a creative. And I have no remorse to admit I'm looking and actively applying to new jobs as I write this.

Fingers crossed.


About the Creator

Nicole Fenn

Young, living - thriving? Writing every emotion, idea, or dream that intrigues me enough to put into a long string of words for others to absorb - in the hopes that someone relates, understands, and appreciates.

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Comments (12)

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  • Yusuf Alam2 months ago


  • Jay Kantor4 months ago

    Hi Nicole ~ Whew ~ After re-reading this while scrolling through your presentations ~ *I want to preface what I'm going to 'ask' before you think I'm soliciting you towards my 'Schpiels.' Nicole, I'm a retired legal 'labor' professional morphed into a 'Schtick' writer; nothing more - I don't count stats and so appreciative that we can feature our own beautiful platform provided to us by Vocal. Ya, butt, after re-reading this composition please see my "Swinging on a Star" and "Fired" ~ Both about j.o.b's ~ If you can't relate stand in line for a refund - Nicole, how fun is it that from Gen to Gen oftentimes things don't change' - Just Different Computers - Jay

  • Ikechukwu Modungwo4 months ago

    I also fancy myself a creative. I'm a music producer, an amateur graphics designer ( I can create a decent enough flyer, banner, logo and simple stuff using Photoshop), a writer and a music artist. Unlike you I didn't get an education in my passion. I have a bachelor's degree instead in Geography and regional planning. I feel the opposite situation in our backgrounds doesn't give me enough insights into your love for the arts, but here's my two cents. It's great that you know something you love to do and it does suck being displaced from your niche into something foreign ( your alien being marketing.) I totally understand your frustration about not knowing the totality of marketing, but I think that you must already know that graphics design plays probably the most important role in marketing and branding. With your expertise in graphics design, creative thinking and originality it's not a mystery to me why you are being seen by your colleagues and superiors alike as the next Guru. What you need to do is just have a little faith in yourself. Even if it's just 10% of the same faith your colleagues have already invested in you. Spend some time learning about marketing and find a way to embed your creative ideas into each campaign. Rome wasn't built in a day so it will definitely take some getting used to. Go as slow as you need to. At least your employees aren't unreasonable and already feel that you are doing a great job. This way you'd develop a rather useful skill which if combined with the creative ideas you produce effortlessly might just be the birth of a truly satisfying experience.

  • Dana Crandell5 months ago

    Yes. It's time to move on. Go get that new position, and congratulations on Top Story!

  • NooNs routes5 months ago

    That is really great

  • Congratulations on your Top Story🎉❤️😉💯

  • Babs Iverson5 months ago

    Yes!!! Apply for those Design positions, get out of your marketing jail!!!♥️♥️💕

  • Charlie Kammares5 months ago

    Well done. I commend you for sharing your struggle and heartfelt inner thoughts -- and for doing so in way that is understandable and relatable. I hope a hope a new position, where you can really use your strengths and interests, comes your way soon. And honestly, I am little envious that you are able to take that step back and reevaluate your career path at 26 😉

  • Jay Kantor5 months ago

    Dear Ms. Nicole - I'm so glad that I've discovered your succinct and marvelous StoryTelling. In our generation 'Career' Choices were very different; I write about that a lot *As I scroll through your (22) gorgeous headings I've subscribed to you with pleasure. Jay Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Author Community -

  • Naveedkk 5 months ago


  • Alexander McEvoy5 months ago

    My situation isn't quite the same as yours, since I don't have your specific difficulties. But I relate and am wishing you the very best in your quest to find a more satisfying workplace! Finding what you want to do and the space that will allow you to do it is really difficult, but you have the first part down! Now it's time for the hard part ;-; All the best!

  • Kendall Defoe 5 months ago

    This is pretty much my situation. I teach on contract and they are only offering me one class at the college in August. I have applied for so many jobs related and unrelated to my degrees (BA and MA from McGill in English Literature and Language). I hope we both benefit from many crossed digits. Just watch your spelling: 'my mangar quit'? ;)

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