What is a "Career Path" these days anyway...
I feel like growing up, you have it drilled into your head that you need to pick a college that has a major you can focus on so you can "prepare" yourself for the best career possible. Now, I remember feeling so overwhelmed and like whatever I choose as an 18 year old was it. Now, reflecting back as an almost 28 year old I have a totally different opinion now than when I was 18, thank god for that.
As a senior in high school, I thought I wanted to be a computer science major in college and go into some sort of coding career. Flash forward ten years later, that is not at all where I am. I went to Gettysburg College, majored in sociology, double minored in computer science and business. Turns out, it matters but just remember you can do whatever you want with that. Granted, I have only been in the "real world' for a few years now but talking to family, friends & colleagues it's solidified that your career is what you make of it.
I don't think anyones first job is their dream job, if it is then thats amazing. I know my first job out of college was not my dream job... I was working with men in their 60's, in a mans world and it was not at all what I thought a job in "marketing" would be. At that time I was on the back end of marketing where it came to actual tactical production of things, not the upfront creative potion I wanted to be in. I actually ended up getting fired from that job and it was the best thing that could've possibly happened to me. I was working insane hours, working with all old men, was miserable and cranky working and it showed. I was still living with my parents so had money saved up and now I wasn't working 12 hour days. This was my time to pull my one job resume together and figure out what I "really" want to do. In hindsight, I have learned that even though I was miserable at work, I shouldn't have shown how miserable I was.
Anyway, a career path is no longer just a straight line from your first job to your ideal job. It is now more of a shoots and ladders game. I want to share some tips I have to help you on your way to your dream job! Turns out I was wrong and they were just taking advantage of the fact I wanted to grow and learn. When I finally snapped out of that, I realized what aI should have been doing all along, putting myself first!
Overall, a pill you need to swallow is that no one cares more about your career (or you in general) than yourself. Don't get swept away with working your ass off and assuming you will be promoted, given a raise & get to where you want to go. Unfortunately in most situations, that isn't going to happen, as uncomfortable as it may be, you need to ask for it. Unfortunately, when you think about men vs. women, men just assume they deserve these things so they go and demand it. Women typically will work and hope someone notices it. Take hold of your career girl and go ask for what you have worked for!
When you have the time, take advantage of it! Time is such a valuable thing so take advantage of it when you have it! I didn't realize how badly I needed take advantage of the time during my first job. I just assumed my first job was supposed to be miserable, crazy hours and with people I couldn't relate to. Turns out, I was wrong and work should never be soul sucking. It's okay to keep long hours and work your booty off but don't let it define you. Make sure you are setting aside time for yourself as well. That means something different for everyone. For some, it means leaving work to go have a family dinner every night. For me, it means making sure I set aside time to get my nails done, see friends and workout.
Because I wasn't making time for myself when I no longer had my job I didn't know what to do with all the time I had. I didn't even know how to relax because I always worked through my vacations... Anyway, this isn't about complaining, its about focusing and climbing that career ladder! I took some time to feel bad for myself, sulked around the house complaining I didn't know where to start, because I didn't. Finally after about a week or so, I started to pull myself together and realize what I had to do and how to not be in this position again.
First, I promised myself that work is a part of my life, not my entire life. I told myself that it's okay to set boundaries, it's okay to say no and its okay to ask for things. I needed to set aside time for myself to do things that made me happy instead of being a slave to my boss. To be honest, if I did that at my first job things may look differently for me now. Currently, my job has busy and not so busy times of the year. In the buys times of the year, it can be frustrating but I know the time will pass. I will work crazy hours but once a week during that time I make sure I schedule a workout class with a friend. This helps make it not all about work & I get to relieve stress plus see a friend! During the crazy busy times I also make it a point to go for a walk during lunch or go out to get a coffee to step away from the desk and get some fresh air. It really does wonders. When it's not so busy, I don't feel guilty about leaving work around 5/5:30. I work hard when I am at the office, and at least 2 nights a week go home and work more. I think its good to leave at a normal time to go do something or just go relax! At the end of the day, you are an adult and you know what you need to get done each day.
I really love my current job, but it is so important to always keep your resume updated. Resumes are difficult creatures to update when you are looking for a job. Its hard to remember all the things you have done, all the projects you have worked on and all of your accomplishments. Turns out, it is much easier to go in every month or so and give your resume a once over read and update that bad boy! It is much easier to digest that way instead of staring at a resume that hasn't been updated in a few years and trying to remember everything that should be included. Plus, what if a dream job (or one that will help you get to the dream) falls from the sky aka a reference or LinkedIn? Thats what happened with my current job and I am beyond thrilled I was able to quickly send over my resume instead of freaking out and updating it.
hot top: if you can, save your most recent resume in PDF form on a G-Drive. This will allow you to easily send it from your phone.
Resumes are different for every industry, I have a resume post coming for how they differ. If you think your resume needs a facelift, feel free to send it over to me to take a look at! Otherwise, there are a lot of great templates on Etsy! I am in marketing, they want to see a bit of a more creative resume in their hands with my photo on it. If you are a designer, or journalist they'll want to see a portfolio of your work and I know that can be a Bi^ch to update. If you are in finance, they may not want your photo. It really all depends on the industry you are in and your overall vibe. Please make sure you are also updating the resume for each job you apply to. Make sure it hits specific cues for the position you are applying to and not just super generic.
Don't buy into the fact that you cant have it all... having it all obviously differs for each person. My version of "having it all" is always evolving based on where I am in life and some days it depends on my mood. I truly believe you set your own standards for what having it all is. At the end of the day, you will have it all, you just may not have it all all the time... Just take a deep breath and reevaluate what you want so you can get there.
Keep your goals clear and evolving as you go - Earlier I put the word "really" in quotations because I think what you want to do evolves as you get older and grow in your career. I started out thinking I was going to be in fashion, 6 years later my goal is to eventually own my own branding company. I think if I wasn't fired from my first job it would have taken me a lot longer to realize that, if at all. I took the time I had when I was trying to find a job to look at brands and companies I loved. From that I dug into what I actually liked about those companies, turns out I like the overall foundation of the brands. That led me to wanting to work more closely with brands on their overall identity and how they show up in the marketplace!
I am not an expert by any means on career paths but I can tell you whats worked for me. I do know there is no straight line in your career path and it is what you make of it. I want to empower you to make the best of your career and help figure it out! Since we are all in quarantine, now may be the time to step back and make a list of what you want out of your career, update the resume & set your goals!
To quickly summarize my tips:
- Look out for yourself & put yourself first.
- Time is so valuable, make the most of it.
- Work is a part of your life, not your entire life.
- Keep your resume updated!
- You can have it all.
- Keep your goals clear & evolving as you go.
Until next time,