Thinking Of Quitting Your Corporate Job?

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5 min read
Remember when you were 17 or 18: you had finally escaped school and landed your #1 course of choice at university? Next on the list was to make sure you got the best graduate position in the Big Smoke. This would be, aside from the usual university distractions & dalliances, your key focus for the next few years.
Hearing Anna Howarth’s (22) story took me back to those days. I remember how easy it was to get caught up in the maelstrom of chatter, expectations and pressure from your ambitious peers, family, friends and yourself. And while I thrived on the path that I took – a training program with an international firm, then up on to the proverbial ladder – I don’t think this track is necessarily for everyone.
Anna, a 22 year old occupational health and safety graduate, fell into this trap. To her credit, she soon realised that she preferred a less structured and more flexible and autonomous career path. Having this insight, Anna now wants to encourage other graduates and high school students in similar situations to cast the net wider and to consider all potential paths before jumping straight into something because they feel they should.
Here’s her story, so far…
Photo credit Who What Wear interview with Anna Howarth about creating her own career path

Hi, I’m Anna. At 21 I had always assumed I wanted/needed an office job and was determined to scoot up the corporate ladder as quickly as possible. In order to keep up with my fellow students, I started my job search before finishing university.

I was puzzled that entry-level positions required years of experience and became concerned that I had started my search too late. So, when I received a job offer from a civil construction company, I was thrilled! I thought “wow, this is awesome. I’m set.”

I landed my first office job!

However, I realised pretty quickly that the whole “office job” thing wasn’t for me. I was, literally, sitting in a box checking the clock every five minutes to see if the day was over. There was also the awkwardness of asking for leave, not to mention the office politics.

I was, literally, sitting in a box checking the clock every five minutes to see if the day was over.

Job satisfaction and independence

So, in an effort to garner a little job satisfaction, I launched an online store. Even though the business wasn’t making enough money to replace my full-time income, it gave me a taste of the flexibility and empowering nature of running my own business, being an entrepreneur. I also started travel blogging, learning as I went about how to turn a business into a full time job.

it gave me a taste of the flexibility and empowering nature of running my own business, being an entrepreneur.

Travel is important for your career

During my travels I came across people in similar situations: they had worked in the corporate world and, for whatever reason, they didn’t take to it and left to find something more suited to them. It was refreshing to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Some of these people were blogging, some had their own online businesses and others taught languages. It was thanks to this experience that I realised I didn’t have to do the “9-5” if it didn’t suit me, there are other ways to work and have a successful career. And, I often wonder why I never learnt this lesson at school…

I realised I didn’t have to do the “9-5” if it didn’t suit me.

Quitting my corporate job

Determined to live life my own way and, even though I had invested four years at university, I quit my corporate job and spent six months working in a café, saving money to invest into my business.

My friends and classmates think I’m crazy.

Working in hospitality was an eye opener: there was no “face time” requirement (i.e. sitting at your desk, looking busy even when you’re not). At the café, if it was busy I stayed, if it wasn’t, I went home. Makes sense. And, I was paid for the hours I was there rather than having to commit to 38 hours per week plus “reasonable additional hours”. Reasonable to whom?! 

My new career & flexible lifestyle

Now, I am 22. It has now been about a year since I left my office job. At the moment, everyone around me is graduating and excited to be getting promotions.  I will be finishing up my life in Australia, selling my car, moving to Spain, teaching online and launching The Girl Boss Movement. A platform dedicated to ditching the “9-5” for a more flexible lifestyle – for those who have an entrepreneurial spirit and thrive on working remotely, or for those who just want to hit the road without a plan.

 I will be finishing up my life in Australia, selling my car, moving to Spain…

Don't necessarily take that job offer straight out of university - career advice irislillian.com
Anna Howarth realised the 9-5 career path isn’t for her
Will I regret my decision?

It’s an interesting situation to be in but I was never scared to make the leap. I don’t regret my decision and I am yet to meet anyone who has. My friends and classmates think I’m crazy but they have also called me brave. I think they are interested to see what happens.

I was never scared to make the leap…

My advice about starting your career

For those just starting their careers who feel the little corporate box isn’t right, I hope I can inspire you to look inside and investigate why and hopefully to make some changes.

I feel like I have dodged a bullet pretty early on in life.

To all you high school students, remember:

  • Don’t freak out if you suck at the “important” subjects.
  • Take some time to think about what you really want to do with your life by focussing on what makes you happy, what you think about often, what distracts you – your passions.
  • Network and join communities on social media which interest you.
  • Work through the summer and save enough so you can travel before you start working or studying.
  • You don’t have to follow the conventional path if you don’t want to. But if you do and it makes you happy, that’s awesome too.
Dodging a bullet

Take some time to think about what you really want to do with your life…

I feel like I have dodged a bullet pretty early on in life: I would hate to be having the realisation two years from now (at 24) that my true calling is going at it alone and charting my own unique path.

Do you know someone about to graduate from high school or university who is unsure about which career path to tak?

Photo credit: Who What Wear & MyDomaine

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