After college, I quickly learned dream jobs do not grow on trees. At least for me, it took time and resume-building to invest in a job I wanted. Even the phrase “dream job” is tricky. Is it attainable? How do you get there? And how do you remain present in your life in the meantime? I’ve learned a lot about building a professional life, and I want to share five ideas to help you build a career (and life) you love:
Find a mentor
Few people are more valuable than a mentor. This person can help you learn and grow professionally and personally; he or she can offer you honest feedback and help you discover what you truly value. Develop a relationship with a mentor who can connect and guide you in the field you love. Need help finding one? Check out Mitch’s article.
Network, network, network
After law school, I knew I wanted to work in banking compliance (doesn’t everybody?). I reached out to people I knew. I asked my Dean of Admissions if we could talk about my interests. He gave me a few names, I connected with them, and several said they would meet me for coffee to help a recent grad and discuss my interests. Then, I asked those people for a few names, and on I went.
Finally, I got an interview.
I looked up my interviewer, Larry, who was connected on LinkedIn to Michael, someone I’d met for lunch. Michael advised me on Larry, which helped me land the job. Your networking story won’t be identical, but the process taught me about the field. Those previous contacts gave me experience and knowledge, which helped me connect with further contacts. Networking might be intimidating, but it’s valuable.
Refine your skill set
Another great thing to do while aspiring for a dream job: Refine your skill set. If you want to be a professional photographer, ask an acquaintance with a photography business to let you be their wedding assistant. If you want to run a non-profit, volunteer for one and learn what you like and don’t like. If you want to work in anti-money laundering (my aspiration), get certified. Maybe combine sections one and two and job shadow? You get the point. Find a way to get better at the role you want.
Pour your energy into a hobby you love
While you strive for your dream job, why not invest in other areas of life. Develop deeper friendships with those you love, finally learn Spanish, start a Bible study, reread the Harry Potter series, or master calligraphy. Just because you are not in the role you want professionally does not mean other areas of your life cannot thrive.
I’ve had the worst boss in the world, and I’ve experienced a role a middle schooler could do. It’s frustrating, but it’s so important to practice gratitude. First, we should be thankful we have a job. Second, difficult seasons of life help you prepare for better ones. After experiencing a terrible manager, you can be more thankful for a good boss. After you experience a toxic role, you know which questions to ask in future interviews so you won’t experience that job again. Wherever you are in life, this is where you’re supposed to be.
By Jordan Fuller
What’s your dream job? And what steps are you taking to get there?