Staying Creative in the Corporate World

Posted by Jeremy Winograd on March 31, 2017

The young and idealistic liberal arts major is an endangered species. Budding creatives emerge from college armed with freshly-learned wisdom, artistic drive, and a fiery commitment to changing the world, man. Their wild aspirations are often tempered by the harsh realities of the modern job market and massive student loan debt. For many such folks, taking a corporate job in order to pay the bills is tantamount to selling out. A true creative mind would never interrupt the ceaseless pursuit of artistic truth and would continue sticking it to the man no matter what, right?

This attitude should not be dismissed out of hand—where would we be without the musical, artistic, and literary geniuses who drove themselves to the brink of starvation in pursuit of their passions before they finally made it? However, it’s also a false choice for most of us. In reality, for many coming from creative fields, like writing or graphic design, working in marketing, recruiting, or similar areas doesn’t mean stifling your creativity. In fact, it can be a prime opportunity for allowing your creative skills to thrive and expand. Here’s why.

Your skills transfer well

There’s a good reason online searches for writing jobs primarily turn up results in fields like marketing (and it’s not just because the traditional journalism industry is shriveling and dying a painful and depressing death). Strong writing skills are desired in such fields, just as much – if not more so – than direct experience. Crafting good marketing content can engage the same creative muscles as researching and writing a great story or piece of fiction, with the added bonus of a steady paycheck.

You know what your audience is looking for because you’ve been that audience

If you come from a creative background, then your likely well-ingrained skepticism about corporate culture can actually be healthy. When you’ve been on the other side, you can challenge conventional wisdom with authority. You know what your company’s audience is really going to respond to, regardless of what their meticulous market research says. You can offer greater insight and do your job better than someone who’s only ever worked on the corporate end. For instance, if you’ve worked in journalism, you’ve probably received thousands upon thousands of poorly written, tone-deaf PR blasts and press releases that make you shake your fist at the PR gods in disgust. Having been through that, you know how to avoid such pitfalls and write content that will pique other journalists’ interest.

You don’t have to abandon your moral stances

Working in a corporate environment doesn’t mean you have to give up defending your principles. Sure, maybe you once envisioned conceiving a generational artistic triumph that would usher the world into a post-corporate utopia. But hopefully you’ve since realized that working for the right company doesn’t necessarily equate to turning to the Dark Side. Align yourself with a brand that you actually care about and can get behind, or at least one that you can live with. Have moral qualms about big box stores’ labor practices? Then don’t do their marketing. Hate the financial industry? Don’t recruit for it. Love Oreos and want to spread the Oreo gospel far and wide? Now we’re talking.

You can pursue your passion on the side

Work/life balance is important for anyone to consider when mulling over a potential job opportunity. This is especially true for those who intend to continue creative pursuits outside the 9-5 workday. Yes, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll feel completely artistically fulfilled in a corporate position, but as long as you have other creative outlets outside the office, that doesn’t have to be a sticking point. Find a job that grants you both time and spare mental energy once the whistle blows. Then you can spend your evenings and weekends building an Etsy jewelry empire, freelancing for your favorite websites and magazines, or writing the great American novel.

You get to expand your horizons

“An artist has got to be careful never really to arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at somewhere,” Bob Dylan once said. “You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming.”

Bob probably didn’t have corporate office jobs in mind when he said that. Still, he hit on a crucial trait that’s common among virtually all great artists: restlessness. If you want to be truly creative, you can’t ever stop pushing boundaries, self-imposed or otherwise. Taking a corporate job may seem counterproductive when it comes to unleashing your creative spirit. It could, however, turn out to be crucial for widening and deepening your skills. Applying those skills in ways you never expected to — even ways that might make you feel uncomfortable at first — is what artistic growth is all about. Writing press releases or designing corporate logos might not be what you’ve always dreamed about, but it may just better equip you to realize those dreams.

How we can help

We have great creative positions open in a variety of industries, and we can help you on your creative career journey. Search our jobs or submit your resume today to connect with a Paladin recruiter.

Posted in: Communications, Creative, Job Seekers, Marketing

About the author

Jeremy Winograd

Jeremy Winograd was born and raised in New York City and has contributed such publications as Time Out New York, Rolling Stone, and Slant Magazine. He also maintains his own blog, Jeremy Etc. He currently lives, works, and writes in Jacksonville, Florida.

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