Quick question: If money wasn’t an object, what would you do for a career?
What was your gut reaction, initial, no over-thinking response? Is it worlds apart from what you do now? Or is it being the bomb ass boss at your current gig. What is it you want to do with your career — really? I know, I know … easier asked than answered. Or … just maybe, deep down you know the answer, but you’re afraid of the answer or you have no idea how to move forward.
How I Found a Career I Love (Twice)
I used to be a professor. Yup. I taught courses like ‘The History of Creativity’ (that’s totally a thing, did you know that was a thing?) I LOVED being a professor. But I also loved paying the rent. I’m not sure if you know this, but academia isn’t exactly a cash cow. I hit a breaking point financially and I had to reconsider and reevaluate.
I tried out a few things, but nothing felt right. I knew I wanted to continue educating and helping people find their thing. I knew I liked helping students figure their own shit out. It was when I finally worked with a career coach that it became clear. I specifically wanted to help people with their own career development and growth. It makes sense right? Teaching college is helping students figure out what careers and futures they’re interested in, career development is the next logical step. Career coaching just made all sorts of sense.
Cool, but knowing what I wanted to be was only part of it. I had to figure out how to make my teacher skills make sense in corporate-land.
I made my way back to advertising and marketing - where I had worked until grad school. I dabbled in several roles until I found my footing in creative staffing. It’s truly a mix of recruiting, management, learning & development and a healthy dose of career coaching. All the while, continuing teaching a course or two at the college level including teaching a course at a portfolio school that focuses on how to get a job.
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In my years of not only staffing candidates and but coaching clients, as well as finding my own sweet spot, I’ve learned that there are a few key steps in finding a fulfilling career for yourself.
How to Find Your Jam!
Start with yourself :Outside of societal and family pressures, you need to acknowledge who you are and what you truly want. What your values, likes, and priorities are. This doesn’t have to be daunting. It can be as simple as sitting down with a pen and a notebook and really asking yourself what you want from life and how that reflects what’s important to you.
Reach Out: Now that you’ve had a nice conversation with yourself, it’s time to chat with other people . Especially people in your network. Your network is a goldmine. Want to know what it would be really like to be a preschool teacher or graphic artist? Reach out and ask. Someone you know is connected to everyone you want to talk to.
Use LinkedIn, Facebook, your alumni association, your hair stylist’s sister…. Reach out and ask to take them for coffee, or more formal informational meetings. Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves - so don’t be afraid to (politely) ask!
Do the Work: Shadow, volunteer and intern if at all possible. Even a few hours a month can give you real insight into a new role and lead to a vast network of connections. If you’re already working 3 jobs and just can’t make the time commitment work, try squeezing in an e-course, webinar or nighttime reading that is relevant to your career goal.
Sell Yourself: Now that you know who you are, who you want to be and what work you want to do - it’s time to sell yourself. Rework your LinkedIn profile, portfolio and resume so that they showcase why you’d be a great fit for this new role. Focus on transferrable skills, relevant experience and even applicable coursework. Then get strategic. Three emails sent to viable network connections is worth 50 resumes sent out into the internet void. Do your research and tailor each application, cover letter and email to that specific person - for that specific role - that you are specifically interested in and fit for.
This whole process can take days, weeks or even months. Go at your speed and try not to play the comparison game. Who cares if your younger cousin appears more successful than you. You don’t know her life! Eyes on your own paper, butt in your own lane. Focus on you and your path. Now go get ‘em tiger!