Some years back I was genuinely excited to sit in the classroom and discuss Cold War, most important treaties, hand in papers on gerrymandering and practice talking in a negotiation. I really was, up to a point where I realized this is to become my career and that’s where my excitement dwindled.
I thought it’s already too late because I was almost a graduate with really good grades and ready to go and show those old men how to negotiate peace in the Middle East. Besides, I thought I’m not good at anything else, let alone something that could be my career.
Moving away, sitting down with myself and making many lists of what I’m (not) good at and talking to people all resulted in a surprising conclusion- I didn’t want to be something in particular. The only thing I wanted is to leave this world a bit better than it was and I could do it in so many ways.
Later on, my path got more crystallized and I found activities and things that are both taking me where I want to be and making me happy to do my job (and not think of work-life balance).
There are a couple of steps I took in order to figure out what is the way I want to contribute to the world and how to get to what I want to do so I decided to share it with you. This article is for all those who studied for years for something they thought they’d enjoy doing and ended up somewhere they wouldn’t like to be.
Explore What You’re Good At
This seems difficult but it’s really not. Write down all the things you think you do well, without any filtering.
Remember if there was something your friends or family (grandma doesn’t count) told you you do well- you draw, write good articles- even Facebook captions, take great photos, throw memorable parties, anything else really. For starters, these don’t have to be activities you enjoy, it’s just important you do it well.
This is not the time to be humble, you’re looking for your passion!
Pick What You Like
Now that you have a list, pick and choose activities you enjoy doing. Obviously, it’s not all that easy- you can’t really get HR education and then work as a neurologist. But if there’s something you love to do out of the things you are good at, then that’s a golden match!
Assuming this is something you want to have as your career, ask yourself if this is one thing that can (have a potential to) generate income. We might be very good at staring at the blank wall but the difficult part is someone who would pay for us doing it. Think if this is something that has certain demand in your city or any other city in the world because we, what, have internet.
Learn by Yourself
Once you’ve figured out there is that one job that you love doing, that excites you and you can make living with it, it’s time for some serious learning.
Get yourself involved in many things related to your desired career path. Learn from people who had their businesses that didn’t succeed, from those who succeeded, from those who’re on the same journey like you. I believe lessons are all around us and that each person we interact with has something valuable to share.
Learn by yourself and make use of free resources online. If you can and want to invest some money into it, there are places like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera that also often have free courses, as well as many other. You justneed to know what you want. And, of course, learning should never stop.
The more you learn and invest in yourself, the more easier it gets to stay on top of your game. This is crucial for any industry and working as a tech recruiter I can say it is a deal maker in IT industry.
If you’re not on top of all the trends and newest technologies you’re soon going to find yourself trying to take a selfie with Nokia 3310 and wondering why it does’t work.
No offence though, I love Nokia.
Build A Habit
If you are seriously on a mission to direct your career somewhere else then learning about new things has to be your daily activity. Curiosity and excellence in this situation go hand in hand.
Practice makes it perfect so practice whatever you’re learning about, be it coding, writing, graphic design or drawing.
People make a mistake and stop learning as soon as they land a job they wanted. Instead, it should become a habit of each of us to practice something we want to excel at on a daily basis.
Learning something for even 20 minutes each day can yield big results in a long run. I don’t even have to go on and compare it to the duration of one episode of your Netflix favorite.
- Side Note for Employers
Encouraging employees to continuously learn and development should be something that companies do naturally and not brag about it just because other companies don’t do it. Dear employers, take it off that perks list already and empower your people to reach their full potential.
Find a Place to Start
Well, you’ve already started but now it’s time to get yourself out there.
Considering you’re starting off with something new, you will need to be flexible and persistent. You can look for an internship, ask if you can offer pro-bono services to a company or a startup or you can do some freelance project to gain initial references.
From employer’s side it’s a bit demanding to hire someone who hasn’t had any experience with what they want to do and who claims they’ve educated themselves at home. This is why it’s good to have some basis, someone who can refer you and say you did an excellent job at their project.
Different certifications, depending on what kind of career path you choose, can go a long way. It’s not just a “paper” but a legitimate knowledge behind.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Many people believe they have to pick only one thing and stick to it forever and ever. This was true before and it still works for some people, especially if the nature of job is such that you they can’t combine it with anything else.
From my point of view, there’s no and there shouldn’t be limits. It hasn’t worked for me, it hasn’t worked for many people I know. You can roll your eyes and say “Oh, it’s those Millenials again” but it doesn’t hurt to try, especially if you can’t choose between two passions of yours.
If you like two things you can try to combine them. If you, for instance, like sports and photography, you can try to direct your career in that direction and specialize in sports journalism or sports photography. If you like to cook and you organize kick-ass dinner parties- there you go! You get what I’m coming to. Just give it a go.
If it’s too physically demanding to do 2 or 3 jobs, try doing one job and having the other one as a hobby and trying to slowly scale it to something more.And never, ever let your gender, age or any other frame society likes to put us into, limit you.
You’re out there on an open sea, full of opportunities so go and prove yourself you can be whoever you are supposed to be.