Crowdsourcing: Does the Corporate Ladder Still Beckon?

A few weeks ago, one of my YourTango co-workers got a (totally deserved because she’s awesome) promotion.

It got me thinking: What’s the next step for me at this company? And do I even have a future here if I’m unwilling to go full-time?

Because while I love working for this company, and it feels like such a perfect fit for me, I’m a freelancer through and through. I have so many other projects on my plate, large and small. I have a new coaching practice. I plan on having a child soon. I enjoy the flexibility, and the diversity of projects. And I don’t want to have to give up anything!

This led to a late-night conversation with my husband, in which we discussed the fact that neither of us has had any interest in the traditional, corporate “ladder” for quite some time now. Rather, what we both enjoy is the act of creating. Management? A completely unattractive prospect for the both of us.

And yet.

When someone lands a traditional magazine position, or gets that promotion, I feel a twinge of longing.

Am I experiencing leftover yearnings from a time when I did dream of becoming a magazine editor? Is it a sign that freelancing is the wrong path? Is it an emotion brought on because of cultural expectations? After all, I was raised to think that college + job + promotion was the only normal, natural, viable career path.

Has anyone here experienced these conflicting emotions? And is it wrong that I’m crowdsourcing answers to my angst? 🙂

Related: Pinpointing Dream Job #328, Wanted: The Career Equivalent of an Open Marriage, When I’m Not Home…


  1. Hi Steph,

    I have those same conflicting emotions all the time! For me, I left my full-time job about a year ago and just fell into freelancing. Because I’m new and building my business and I’m in school, money is tight, and because money is tight, I have very basic health insurance and I’m unable to travel or go out much. So sometimes I feel that calling to go back to full-time work, definitely. But then I remember that I didn’t like going to the same place every day and working on the same projects every year, and then I feel good about my choice to give freelancing a go. Until I start thinking I should be working full-time again…:) (It really is a terrible cycle!)


  2. Ah, nothing wrong with having other people contemplate the same issue. That’s why people read blogs. I’m not sure of the answer, but I occasionally have the same wistful feelings. I think it’s about the prestige, because there isn’t much of that as “freelance writer.” It would be kind of nice to be able to get a promotion or a title change or to just have my title sound impressive. But, in the end, I love what I do and could never ever work for a boss again.

  3. Steph,

    Here is my take on it…you still [enter word here: want, desire, long for, etc.] that traditional and highly coveted Editorial position, but you still like the freelance side of things which is unconventional. Why not combine both? Think on that for a minute before you read further…

    Done thinking? Good, here is what my mind sees when I put 2 and 2 together. Either start your own freelancing magazine or some variation of it (perhaps only working with freelance writers?) Or what about looking at what you can offer to a magazine as a freelance editor and create a whole new type of position. Pitch the position like you are pitching an article to the best magazine out there.

    Point is, be creative with the typical and see where it takes you.

    BTW “After all, I was raised to think that college + job + promotion was the only normal, natural, viable career path.” – yea, me too. 🙂

  4. I know a magazine editor who telecommutes from home. She worked at the office for a while, got a promotion, and built enough trust with her boss to work from home. It can happen.

    But maybe the real issue is affirmation and recognition. You want to feel like you’ve accomplished/are accomplishing something other people really value. I’m sure a lot of people have been there. I know I can relate.

  5. I think we all dream of the ultimate creative job. The corporate world, however, is not ideal, as you pointed out. I have a friend who just gave up someone else’s dream job as an editor because the corporate world got to her after 20 years. (She decided to join the Peace Corps.) As for me, I became an innkeeper, due to circumstances, and while it is nice to be one’s own boss, I miss the creative side of writing and try to fill that void with my blog.

  6. I am from an older generation, I was raised to believe that a woman maybe graduated high school, found a man got married and reproduced. I thought differently and went to college. I was not in a field where working from home was an option. I climbed the corporate ladder and never looked back. But, having said that, dedicating your life to the work place is not for everyone. Once you get to the higher rings of the ladder your expected to work extra hours a day and weekends. To spend more time at your job than any where else.

    If you don’t want to do that, then by all means stay a freelancer. Corporate life is not for every one.

  7. Ah, a very timely topic for me right now!

    I’m with Sarah–I think a big draw of corporate life when you’re doing something creative is the recognition, in the form of raises and promotions. They’re very tangible steps up the ladder; affirmations that you’re on the right track and doing a good job and that other people see it too. When you’re not doing what you love though, that thrill of getting a promotion or a raise is a very temporary high–it only lasts until all of the congratulations run out and you’re back to the daily grind. And if the daily grind means management and you hate doing management, all the promotions and money in the world won’t make you as happy as you think they will. So try to remember that when you feel that twinge of longing. Follow your heart, not your ego.

    Of course, I could just be projecting, but just my two cents 🙂

  8. “then I remember that I didn’t like going to the same place every day and working on the same projects every year, and then I feel good about my choice to give freelancing a go.” Oh Jen, exactly. I’m at an office three days a week now, and I love it…but I also love having days when I’m not there.

    @Sal: You think big. 🙂 At the moment, I feel that I have a nice balance going between office and non-office work, but I must admit, the thought of starting my own publication has crossed my mind.

    @Sarah: That’s such an excellent point. When I was going through my certification program, I filled out a worksheet on motivators, and it became clear that things like recognition and affirmation are definitely important to me. It’s harder to come by when you’re sending stories out into the ether. I suppose that just means I need to work harder!

    @Diana: teehee 🙂

    Thanks everyone else for their input! It’s good to know I’m not the only one who gets those conflicted feelings.

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