Choose Your Own Adventure
Four-time (and counting) career changer Nicolle Merrill excels in professional reinvention. Her human-centered approach to career change, combined with a relentless curiosity about emerging career trends, has led to speaking engagements across the US, as well as in Canada and Ireland.
career change, career changer, nicolle merrill, speaker, author
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The Struggle is Real

Your career is a struggle. You work at a mediocre job. The company is the opposite of inspiring. You’ve recently taken on more work because a coworker quit unexpectedly. Your boss doesn’t pay much attention to you. You haven’t had a raise in three years.

 

Each day you fantasize about getting fired from your job. Not because you want to get fired. You just don’t know where to go from here. You can’t decide what’s worse: a job search or staying put in your mediocre job. You think that if they fired you, you’d have no choice but to look for a new job. You daydream about a new career, something that pays better, something less soul-crushing. You have no idea what career that would be.

 

You walk to the bathroom. You pass the daily announcements board. You read today’s motivational quote:

Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.

Jack Dorsey

You roll your eyes. You contemplate writing your own motivational quote. You imagine writing in large letters: NOTHING YOU DO MATTERS HERE. You fantasize about getting caught and about not getting caught and gossiping with your coworkers about who did it.

 

You go to the bathroom and spend an ungodly amount of time on your phone. As you return to your desk, you pass the whiteboard again.You see the markers. You feel the pull. Why not write your own motivational quote? You visualize it on the board:

NOTHING YOU DO MATTERS HERE

Management

What would you do?

Time for a Career Change!

You write the phrase big and bold as quick as you can. You step back to admire your work. You take a photo and upload it to your Insta story, captioning it as #motivationalquote. You return to your desk. You get an email 27 minutes later with “Incident” as the subject line. You click, eager to see it.

 

Team,
We are aware of an incident occurring this afternoon near the Cascades conference room. Please be advised we are reviewing all employee sensor data to determine next steps. We encourage all employees to use proper communication channels when providing feedback about our organization.

Regards,

Management

 

You panic. You didn’t realize that your company had an employee monitoring system. You remember something from a meeting about new employee badges with sensors. You thought it was for a communication project not an employee data tracking system that monitors employee movements. You refresh your emails and notice you’re locked out of the system. You try to reset but the prompt says your user name doesn’t exist. You smash the keys around some more. 

 

You look up to see your boss walking toward you with the two security guards who high five you each day as you scan in. Your dreams are coming true: you’re getting fired from your mediocre job.

Don’t Write on the Board

You return to your desk, pleased with your impulse control. You may hate your job, but you are a professional after all. Your boss calls you into her office. She informs you that the company algorithm that monitors employee emails has indicated that you are unhappy.

 

You tell your boss that you are fine, that you are fine, thank you very much. She disagrees and says that the algorithm has been analyzing all your emails. The system has flagged your use of curse words as above average. Your employee happiness rank is a 2 out of 10. You see a sad face emoji next to your name. You admit you’ve been a bit unhappy. Your boss assures you of their open door policy which reads like a corporate PR statement.

 

You leave the meeting, irritated that all your emails are being analyzed by your employer. You imagine working for a company that trusts you. Your friend told you recently that they’re hiring at her startup. She keeps raving about the place, but you don’t know anything about it. You should text her.

 

You’re starving, so you decide to hit up the break room to see if any of yesterday’s donuts are left. On the way, you see your boss’s boss exiting a meeting. You’ve been emailing him your reports for the past three months, but you’ve never officially met in person. You think it would be a good chance to put a face to a name. You always hear that it’s good to network.

What would you do next?

AVOID

You duck into the break room. There are no donuts. Instead, there’s a pile of paleo health bars courtesy of your wellness department. You read the attached note: A healthy employee is a productive employee! You remember the kick-off campaign that encourages all employees to wear company-issued fitness bracelets that track their calories and exercise habits. You opted out because you don’t think your employer should know what you do outside of the workday. Your employer punished you by withholding the $750 company health insurance contribution. So much for wellness.

 

You’re angry now. You can’t tell if it’s from the hunger or remembering your high deductible. You take a bite of the paleo bar to ease the hangry and gag. It tastes like damp dust. Your coworker laughs watching your disgust. He tells you he wants to record your reaction and tag the company on Instagram.

What would you do next?

Network with Him

You walk over to your boss’s boss and introduce yourself, reminding him your name is on the reports you send weekly. He smiles politely. You tell him a few ideas you have about improving the reporting process. You notice his deep tan as he tells you he’s just returned from a conference in Portugal. Your manager told you just last week that there’s no budget for raises this year. You make a mental note to ask about conferences in Portugal. He tells you he’s late to a meeting and calls you Drew. Your name is not Drew.

 

As he leaves, a woman enters the office. You notice how she radiates lightheartedness and confidence. Your office radiates boredom. You watch the woman engage in a clever back and forth with your friend. You hope she isn’t applying to your place of work. You don’t want to see her spirit crushed. You return to your desk and message your work bestie who works near the front desk.

 

You: Who’s visiting?
Friend: Some consultant.
You: I bet she makes more than us.
Friend: She does. I saw the invoice with her hourly bill rate.
You: What’s her name?

 

You Google her name. Her LinkedIn profile says she’s a user experience designer. You check Glassdoor to figure out how much she makes. You learn that the average user experience designer makes over $100,000. You realize that’s double your salary. Your feelings turn to jealousy. You’d like to get paid for doing something other than people wrangling. You spend the next 10 minutes scanning job descriptions for user experience designers. They’re interesting but you’re not qualified. You close your tabs, check your Insta, and head to a meeting.

 

You exit the door to your office and run right into the woman, stopping just before you collide. You feel transparent because you’ve just stalked her online. She laughs and asks if you’re okay.

 

You stare.

What will you do?

Time for a Career Change!

You record the video, gagging again at the taste. You don’t even need to exaggerate. Your coworker uploads it to his Insta and it goes viral by the end of the day. The next day you create the account @garbagebars, uploading a reaction review video for every free snack bar your wellness department offers.

 

Your Insta blows up, going from two followers to 600K in a week. You quit your job and become an Instagram influencer selling Tummy Tea for Strength at $5,000 a post.

 

You finally changed careers.

Time for a Career Change!

You text your friend to tell her that you’re miserable in your job. You ask her what she likes about her job. She says that her favorite part of her work is that her boss gives her challenging projects and trusts her to get the work done. She says the company is a bit chaotic, not very well organized. You learn they have unlimited vacation, a budget for professional development, and people work from home once a week. You also learn that she makes more money than her last job.

 

You ask her if there are any jobs that are a fit for you. She tells you there might be some but that you’d need to be comfortable working with data and giving presentations. You’re terrified of public speaking but working from home and a raise is exactly what you need right now in your life. You tell her you could do it. You have no idea how, but you need an out. You sign up for a self-paced data analytics course online offered for free through your current place of work. You start making small presentations to pass the days, getting a bit better at your presentations.

 

You do the work to learn new skills. Six months later, you’re in a new career making $25,000 more than your last job and working from home with your dog once a week. Life is good.

Time for a Career Change!

You don’t want to spend another day in this place. You’ve heard about people ghosting their jobs before. You just didn’t think you’d be one of those people. You ignore her and walk right past the meeting room and out the door. As you exit, you wonder if there’s a word in another language for the simultaneous feeling of panic, joy, and relief. You grab your phone. You send your last email to your boss and boss’s boss with two simple words: I quit. You mouth the word fuckers as you hit send.

 

You don’t know how you’re going to explain this to your family, friends, or even your next employer. You start your drive, windows down, and all the glorious feelings wash over you. You realize you could drive Lyft for a while to get by. You’ll have to cut back on your spending, but you’ll get some flexibility in your schedule to sort out your next move.

 

Four months later, one of your Lyft passengers compliments you on your playlist. She tells you she founded a startup direct-to-consumer music platform. You tell her you’ve talked with so many musicians while driving Lyft. She gives you her contact info and tells you to follow up because she might have a business development job for you. She compliments your conversational skills. You tell her that after four months of driving strangers, you’ve earned how to talk to anyone.

 

You envision a new path in the music industry and it makes you smile. You don’t know how this will turn out but you’re going to explore it.

Talk to Her

You ask her if she’s new to the building. She says yes. She’s a consultant tasked with helping your benefits department design a better app. You ask if she can design an app that lowers your deductible. Your timing is off. You smile through the awkwardness.

 

She laughs anyway and says she’ll work on it. She asks what you do. You debate telling her that all you do is watch YouTube videos and ignore emails from people you don’t like until you can ghost out of the office at the end of the day.

 

You tell her you’re responsible for compiling all metrics across departments and writing a weekly report for management. She asks you why your company hasn’t built an internal dashboard that does that automatically. You hadn’t thought about that before.

 

You realize your job could be automated.

What will you do next?

Time for a Career Change!

You tell her that’s a ridiculous idea. You tell her that no computer software could do what you do. You state proudly that you’ve been at the company for five years. You tell her how much your boss values you. You wish her good day and storm off.

 

You continue to your first meeting. Your boss and her boss are there along with the IT department. The meeting begins. Your boss announces that they’re building a new system to automate reporting across departments. They envision a dashboard where management can view each department’s metrics in real time. He smiles at you and tells you that you’re a valuable asset.

 

You were asked to join the meeting so everyone on the project can understand how you compile reports.

 

You realize it’s the beginning of the end of your job.

Ask a Question

You realize she has a good point. You ask her how she knew that. She tells you that she works with a lot of organizations. She explains how they’re using technology to automate human tasks to save money.

 

You tell her it’s not fair. She agrees. You ask her how she got into her current line of work. She explains her background. She tells you about her career change into user experience design.

 

She tells you she was once in your situation. She chose user experience design because of the job security. She adds that she makes twice her previous salary.

 

You aren’t sure what to say next.

What will you do next?

Time for a Career Change!

You end the conversation because it felt like a good stopping place. You continue to the meeting. On the way you pull out your phone, looking at online courses for user experience design. You don’t see the giant hole in the middle of the hallway because you’re walking while scrolling. You fall into the hole. You land face first, your hands crushed beneath your body, still clutching your phone. You break both of your hands.

 

You are unable to work for months. During the months off, you interact with Alexa to get things done. You start to wonder how Alexa works. You get more curious. One day, Alexa plays back a conversation it had recorded between you and a friend.

 

You freak out. You take your Alexa to your garage and smash it. You’re spooked. You decide to start a new career in data privacy and artificial intelligence to fight against corporate surveillance.

There’s more to come!

Good choice! There’s more to come in this story but the online adventure ends here. If you’re curious about how your story ends, order the book to keep exploring!

 

If you’d like to get beyond the headlines about robots taking our jobs and read a chapter from the book, sign up below.

There’s more to come!

Good choice! There’s more to come in this story but the online adventure ends here. If you’re curious about how your story ends, order the book to keep exploring!

 

If you’d like to get beyond the headlines about robots taking our jobs and read a chapter from the book, sign up below.