I Took a $30K Pay Cut — Here’s Why

The burning question from last week: Why did I leave my higher paying, safe, corporate job for one that pays me $30K less?

Well, let me just put this out there: No I didn’t quit. Yes I was making the moves to. The timing was right with how it all worked out.

I was another body in a dark-lit room, sitting next to my manager with a desk and keyboard covered in dust for months (that didn’t really bother me, though it was a notable observation).

What did bother me, however, was the lack of feeling necessary within the company. There were many days, maybe in fact most days, where I felt like my purpose there was really, well, nonexistent. Projects were always slow, or often times dropped or lost in the abyss of higher management. The projects were also in fact, boring. I was designing in a program meant to be used by data analysts. That was certainly a first. Many times I would create something, only to be told to revert back to the original which looked like a design that hadn’t been touched since 1998.

Culture there felt dry. I had been in a corporate environment before, at a much smaller scale, so I felt that same energy here, only thing different was that even less people knew my name. Company events felt cheesy and forced.

If people on my team had an issue, request, comment, or concern, it didn’t matter— it wouldn’t ever be addressed. People were never a priority. Budget and deadlines were. I had emails go out on more than one occasion requesting to further my education such as by attending seminars or taking online courses. Both of which were put off for months or completely ignored.

What is the damn point? I was making the most money I had been thus far in my design career, at the age of 23 no less, and felt like I was barely working, or learning for that matter. Many would say, “that’s the dream!”

Well, you gotta wake up at some point.

Two weeks before I was going to put in my leave notice, I was laid off due to a restructuring within my department. That was probably the best thing the company ever did for me.


After leaving the company, I didn’t have another job quite lined up. However, I did do some freelance work back in January which lead to a full-time offer. This company had everything I needed and nothing I had experienced up until that point of my career: creative ongoing projects with tons of big clients, an agency setting, and at the top of my list: a place I could see myself feeling comfortable and collaborative. The culture is what leads this company’s success. The commute is better, the atmosphere is more inspiring, offsite flex, all of the stars were aligning…

Until I heard their offer.

My first reaction was, “Well damn, knew it had to be too good to be true” and I figured I’d walk out of there and into my laptop buried in job search engines again.

My ego was coming to the surface. I had had in my head that as long as I was moving forward in my career, my salary should be too. I told myself each time I took on a new opportunity, the salary or pay would be higher. Only movin’ on up was my mental motto.

In that moment, I had my priorities all wired wrong. Like many others, money to me meant success. Money talked and spoke for me regarding my talent and expertise. I measured myself with money, over experiences and opportunities to work with great people. And then I snapped out of it.

In the interview, I was told to reach out if I had any questions or wanted to address any concerns. This was my moment, a moment given to reflect what I really wanted for myself and future.

Did I want to stick with my ego, the stubborn bastard who would only apply for UI/UX positions with 90K+ salaries, ending up in a similar situation to my past? Or did I want to try a different direction, forfeit the extra couple grand I was used to seeing roll into my bank account each month for awesome work and an industry I could actually see myself in for the long haul?

After deliberating with myself for a couple days and talking with my good friend and mentor, I decided to take the chance on this young company full of culture and buzzing with life.

I gotta tell ya, it is still the best decision I made in my career life so far.

And as for the money? I honestly didn’t notice the change much. In fact, with my current situation and other outside opportunities, I’m more than comfortable, if not exactly where I was, financially.

The difference now is, I’m actually happy 



Cover photo credit to Gratisography. (Love his work, and you will too.)

Nicolette Shasky

About the Author | LinkedIn
Nicolette Shasky is a creative soul with a specialty in visual storytelling and creative design. She currently works as a Senior Visual Designer at eLearning Mind in San Diego, California.

1 Comment

  1. […] took a job offer back in February, and started in March. Took a $30K salary cut compared to my last job, and definitely work a lot more these days. Why did I choose to do this? […]

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