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Nicole Gregory

Visual Designer

Menlo Park, CA

Sometimes when your challenges seem to block one path, they end up helping you find your true direction.

I was laid off from my job as an Art Director at a very popular social news site, and found myself on the market for new opportunities. I was fortunate to land several great interviews, and ultimately accepted the position of Creative Director at a small startup. This position seemed like a huge opportunity: It offered me design ownership of an entire web experience, and I was eager to establish my creative vision for the product. It could not have been a better opportunity.

However, even though I had interviewed at length with the company’s CEO, after starting the new role it became clear he was not ready to hand over the creative reigns. I initially welcomed his input, since feedback would be crucial to nailing both the overall site design and user experience. However, the CEO soon became involved on a much more fundamental level. He began submitting his own mockups and re-envisioning entire areas of the site. He eventually made it clear to me that, though my expertise was appreciated, he knew what was best for the product and intended on running the show.

Once I realized how limited my impact would be, my enthusiasm completely dissipated. Despite this, I looked for ways to make my mark, but as the months passed, the situation steadily grew more disheartening. After a long period of contemplation, I realized I was truly unhappy in my new position. Even though I had only been in the role for the better part of a year, it was time to do what was right for my career and move on.

As I started to look for new opportunities, I made it my goal to be more selective about the roles I expressed interest in; I would only investigate those roles that truly inspired me.

I reached out to a few colleagues who were recruiting for one of the Silicon Valley tech companies I’d only dreamed of working for in the past. After discussing my background and experience, we found there was mutual interest and decided to move forward with a few phone screens. Those phone screens turned into interviews and eventually led to an amazing offer at a very popular tech company—a company that I’m still proud to be a part of today. I soon realized that the limitations which were placed on me in my previous role became the motivation I needed to pursue what really mattered to me. Sometimes when your challenges seem to block one path, they end up helping you find your true direction.