I don’t often brog about my career. I sparsely use names, unless it’s in the past and has been for a while, and I deliberately keep things kind of vague, because I’m a fairly private person in spite of being a regular brogger, and I’m often paranoid that because the world is a fucked up place full of fucked up psychopaths, keeping things ambiguous might be an effective manner to maintain some privacy. Furthermore, I have a tendency to keep particular thoughts about work close to the heart, since I don’t imagine there’s much good about venting about the people that pay me so that I can live my life, on the internet.
I’m leaving my job.
I’m starting a new one immediately afterward. To those of my six readers doing the math, that means that I spent but seven months with my former job before jumping ship and seeking greener pastures.
There was once a point in my career that I couldn’t comprehend the landscape of those of my friends and acquaintances also with creative backgrounds, who bounced around job after job, after fairly short tenures at each one. Every few months, a change in Facebook status of place of employment, every few months I’d run into them at a function, where they’d talk about working for a name different than the last.
I have an old-school mentality that believes that tenure looks great on resumes, as substantial proof of dedication and tenacity to stick it out. I get this from my parents who have only worked jobs where they’ve punched in a decade at a time with some of them; I have never been in one place for longer than four years, much to my dismay. As for the job I’m walking away from, that didn’t even make it one full year.
There’s a pretty notable list of reasons why I’m making this decision, but it all really boils down to the fact that I was unhappy being there, and that tenure be damned, I knew that this was not a place and industry that I wanted to be in for the long haul, much less the following week. It was a toxic culture where people play the game of titles, full of spineless players and employees who are wholly incapable of doing their basic jobs. Phrases like “cover your ass” and “thrown under the bus” were heard way more frequently than a harmonious workplace should have those words muttered, and the generally overwhelming size of the company, on a global level, was far too frequently cited as rationale for the slow-turnaround for even the most mundane of problem solving.
But one of the biggest reasons why I decided to leave was the fact that this was a place that was absolutely clueless when it came to understanding of the creative process, and as a result turned out to be an environment/industry that was absolutely suffocating and detrimental to my creative career.
Explanation done best through example:
You have the cure for AIDS.
Seriously, you have figured out how to generate a serum, a liquid, a compound, whatever; but injected into a person with HIV, or even full-blown AIDS, cures them instantaneously. Scot free, completely healthy, no longer addled by the metaphorical ball-and-chain timer above their head.
Like Magic Johnson.
The thing is, creating more cure for AIDS requires a tremendous amount of ingredients, and a large number of intricate processes and steps necessary to result in creating the cure.
Now that you’ve discovered the cure for AIDS, you want to share it with the world, and get it out there as quick and efficiently as possible, so that thousands of people with HIV and AIDS can be rescued, and life can be preserved.
The thing is, the CDC or WHO, whichever agency would be in charge of gathering this intel, and be in charge of producing it, deals with a lot of people who believe they have the cure for AIDS as well. At any given point, they are bombarded from would-be saviors and would-be messiahs who claim to have the cure for AIDS with proposals for the cure, that inevitably do not work.
However, as a result of such length of failure, neither agency will even look at a proposal for the cure for AIDS unless it is presented to them in an request for proposal (RFP) that is ten pages or less, and all text must be 10 pt. Times New Roman font.
You really, really want to save people and rid the world of AIDS, so you do your very best to condense all your notes, all your ingredients, all your processes and instructions into a ten-page document, but it turns out that it is simply impossible to fit absolutely every single ingredient and instruction into such criteria.
You submit a ten-page document with all the necessary ingredients and instructions to creating the cure for AIDS, but the type is 8 pt. Arial, in order to squeeze everything in there. The CDC declares it disqualified, crumples it up and throws it into the trash.
You submit a 13-page document with the correct font, and all of the same essential ingredients and instructions. WHO disqualifies the document, crumples it up and throws it into the trash.
This is kind of the story of the job that I’m leaving, and a very prevalent reason to why I’m doing so. Proposal work, I’ve learned is more about presentation and cripplingly stifling guidelines, than it is the actual content of the proposal itself. Time, and time again, I’ve been told that even the smallest infraction of a guideline, such as an incorrect font, can very well, disqualify a proposal from even being looked at.
Even if within such a proposal were such an important thing, like a cure for AIDS.
But nothing I’ve done has been remotely as essential for mankind, which makes it even worse when threat of disqualification dictates absolutely everything that could go into a proposal.
The things I create in my career might not always be the sexiest, the most aesthetically pleasing, or the most creative things people have ever seen. But I still take a degree of pride and satisfaction in knowing that I get paid to make things, that get used, for a variety of applications.
In the proposal world, graphics are the last things considered, and the first things to be ostracized, criticized and often times, cut and omitted from a proposal, in the process. The people I work with have little clue to what they want, and when I struggle with providing them graphics that don’t meet their criteria I didn’t know existed, then we’re both unhappy. And then they’ll tell my boss, or their boss, that I’m underperforming, and I’m scratching my head to why I’m getting thrown under a bus that I had no idea even existed.
It dawned on me that sure, it will be on my professional record that this is a job that I did not stick it out for, even for just one year, but I’ve gotten to a point in my life where my own happiness is more important to me, and the fact was that I was not happy, and probably would never be happy working for this company.
It’s a toxic work environment in an industry that doesn’t respect creativity or the arts, and I do not recommend the proposal world for anyone who does remotely close to what I do for a living. Frankly, I don’t recommend the proposal world to anyone in general, especially if you like having regular weekends, colleagues that know how to get away from the keys and not email you at 11:30 pm or 5:47 am, asking you do shit, that in all likelihood will get cut when your contributions run the risk of putting a proposal over word/page count.
The past seven months have been somewhat of a mistake, that I have genuine regrets in taking this direction. But the mistake is now behind me, fading into the past, as I make forward progress, in what I hope to be an optimistic career path.
Here’s to new beginnings, and renewed hopes and faith.