- Nichole Maffey worked in startups for nearly a decade but got her first corporate job this month.
- Despite the negative connotation of corporate work, she said it’s saving her mental health.
- Now she has a team to support her and extra time to spend doing things outside work.
This is an as-told-to essay based on an interview with Nichole Maffey, a 29-year-old corporate worker living in Boise, Idaho.
Maffey had heard the warnings to stay away from corporate America. Her friends told her working for a big employer would kill her creativity and leave her feeling stuck in a job that lacked purpose.
On top of that, growing up in the “girlboss” era further drove Maffey toward an ambitious career. The hashtag #Girlboss, which the millennial entrepreneur and author Sophia Amoruso popularized, fueled an entire community of career-focused women in the mid-2010s, and Maffey was a willing participant, she said.
To reach her career expectations, Maffey joined a startup after college for the fast pace and growth opportunities. But like many workers — millennial and otherwise — Maffey realized the pace was taking a toll on her mental health.
After a startup laid her off, Maffey took a chance on her first corporate role, which she began this month. Now, despite what others had warned her, she said her mental health has never been better.
Startups drove me to embrace the hustle
I began my startup career right out of college and have ranged from the ninth hire to the 30th.
I loved startups because I didn’t feel like college gave me all the necessary skills to be a successful marketer. Startups allowed me to hit the ground running. I led teams, collaborated with HR, delivery, and sales departments, and helped shape the brand direction. My roles gave me opportunities to learn at a much faster rate than a siloed, corporate job would have because I was part of so many projects at once.
Companies have typically hired me to create the marketing team by building it from the ground up. That’s where a lot of the chaos comes from.
In my early twenties, I had all this energy to invest in work, so startups were a good fit. But after eight years, I’m in a new phase of life and want to put my energy elsewhere, and that’s OK.
I’m unsubscribing from my girlboss upbringing
I didn’t know it was burnout at first. I just thought the intense stress and never being able to take my mind off work was something everyone experienced.
That’s why burnout at such a young age is so dangerous: You start thinking that overworking and constantly stressing about your job is normal — just how you operate. That makes it difficult to set necessary boundaries.
With my generation, there’s always been so much comparative bias in terms of career. We looked at the excessive work and progress of others and felt we weren’t doing enough. It took me years to realize that mentality is not sustainable for me.
Now, thanks to conversations on social media and elsewhere, millennials like me are rethinking what work and life could look like.
I have officially unsubscribed from the girlboss era. Doing so has given me more time for other parts of my life like walks with my dog, trips I’ve been wanting to take, and time with friends and family.
Corporate America is not what people make it out to be
Burnout is also possible in a corporate setting, of course, but I don’t feel the same pressure that I did at a startup. This is just one example: In eight years of working, I’d never been onboarded before this corporate job. It’s reassuring to have processes already in place — including training, resources, and ways to increase my skills — and to be joining an existing department rather than having to start one from scratch.
In my new corporate role, I don’t feel like it all relies on me.
TikTok has opened my eyes to other people’s experiences. I wanted to do the same about my corporate role because I saw the benefits. That’s why I started sharing my experience on social media.
I’ve been able to start conversations on social-media profiles about work-life balance and my belief that the type of work that’s best for you depends on your phase of life.
You are not your job. As you change, your work should, too. We need to normalize changing and moving on, because that’s what’s important to finding a true work-life balance.