Stefan

This is a post from MyCareertopia, you can find it here.

As the Editor-in-Chief of MyCareertopia, I am always keeping my eye’s peeled for interesting content for our readers.

Although the blog is where I spend most of my time when it comes to writing, I post other Careertopia related content to our Facebook and Twitter as well.

About a week ago I was sitting at home cruising the internet, looking for interesting stories, photos, memes, and links to share with you ladies and gents, when I came across this post on Imgur.

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I was totally caught off guard.

In between pictures of cats relaxing and introvert memes was a humble story of a man going through career trouble…and it was quickly climbing the front page of Imgur.

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introvertmeme

Here was a distinguished professional, capable of speaking three different languages, with over a decade of portfolio work to establish his name, and yet no jobs were opening up for him.

I was fascinated, curious, and a little bewildered.

By the time I had found Stefan’s post he had over 100,000 views and 200 comments…and since then… it has reached over 180,000 views and almost 500 comments.

Occasionally I’ve found myself needing graphics created so I reached out to him.  As we talked, I asked if he’d be willing to share his story with you all.

Here he talks about what led up to his post, where he got the idea, and what advice he has for others having career hiccups?

This is what Stefan wrote.

Freelancing as a graphic designer is a tough business, and earlier this year after 13 or so years of doing it, I needed a change.

I started craving the security of a nine-to-five job, the regular pay, the routine.

So I applied for countless positions, only to be rejected at every turn. Most of the time, I was told that I was “over qualified”, which meant they didn’t want to hire me, only to lose me a few months later due to boredom.

I kept insisting that that was not going to happen, that I in fact needed that job, but they didn’t care and stopped responding after a while. It was clear that the difficulty wasn’t in finding an actual job, but to get past the HR department’s tendancy to judge before hearing all the facts.

I was frankly going crazy from all the “cut and paste” rejection letters I was receiving.  Money was getting tight, and freelancing had turned into a chore, the work I once loved with a passion was starting to wear me out.

After my latest rejection, sickness struck in my family, and the need to find a steady job to secure some of our financial future turned into a race against time. I grew increasingly desperate, and decided to turn to a community that I had always perceived as empathetic and helpful: imgur.

I need this to be absolutely clear, this wasn’t a rational business decision. I had no agenda. I had no plan, and no idea how it was going to play out. It was an act of pure despair, a stab in the dark. A hopeful one, but as I was aware that most people on imgur live at least one continent away, I knew that getting a steady job out of it was unlikely.

So I designed my plea, explained my situation as briefly and as honestly as I could, made it look pretty (incidentally, I used the very same design that was rejected earlier that day), and submitted it to the gallery. I didn’t include any personal information about myself, nor did I post a link to my portfolio, as I didn’t want it to come across as some sort of business promotion disguised as a heart breaking story. Using imgur to channel my despair wasn’t my proudest moment, but that was about to change.

Within minutes, comments started to appear under my post and I started to get upvotes. Words of encouragement mostly, but still, it felt good.

After 45 minutes, I received a notification from my inbox on imgur. 16 messages. I clicked on that number, and read them all.

That’s how I got my first logo design job on imgur, and many more letters of encouragement and words of advice from all over the world.

A student in the US wished me luck.

A translator from Germany needed a logo and a web site.

A ranch in Texas needed a logo.

After reading all those messages in total shock (and after responding to all of them), I went back to my imgur post, only to discover dozens of comments, hundreds of upvotes and a bright white 35 at the top right of my screen…more messages.

Within hours, I literally received hundreds of messages, people asking me for references, for my e-mail address, for my rates, and so much moral support that I knew I had made the right decision.

As of right now, my post has received 4,494 points and has generated almost 180,000 views. I have received over 200 messages in a few days, and not a single one was negative in any way, shape or form. I’m in touch with about 30 people via e-mail, and I’ve added 10 more on skype. The imgur community is absolutely amazing.

And this is the moral of the story: it was the right decision for me. It is by no means a business model, and I don’t encourage anyone to do exactly what I did.

What I do encourage people in similar situations to do is this: break patterns. Break new ground. Stop doing things that haven’t worked in a while. Take back control, be pro active. Be in charge. Look at your references and know that you’re great at what you do.

So far, I’ve completed four projects and I am currently working on three more.

This whole thing isn’t going to make me rich, nor was it meant to.

In fact, I needed the ego boost more than I realized, it was an energizing experience, and it still is. And most importantly, it takes the pressure off the job hunt. I had lost faith in my own talent as a graphic designer, and I was approaching rock bottom. I’m still looking for a job every day, but the despair is gone.

 

Stefan Ellerich is a Graphic Designer from Vienna, Austria.  You can contact him and see more of his work by checking out his portfolio.

About BryceChristiansen

Bryce Christiansen is a marketer and writer. He's mostly known for starting MyCareertopia.com, a site dedicated to helping others find the intersection between happiness and work.

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