Can you just “fall into” your dream job?
I just finished reading The Power of Who by Bob Beaudine (great book — highly recommended) and the entire premise of the book is about identifying and utilizing your “Who” (the key people in your network) in order to accomplish your “What” (your dream job). This got me thinking about my current situation and how I got there and also got me wondering about one thing in particular — can landing your dream job really be as “easy” as it was for me?
Let me fill you in on why I say it was “easy”…
In high school and early college, I was determined that I was going to be a detective. You name the crime show, I’ve probably watched it. I knew to do that, there are 2 main avenues 1) Do really well in school and get recruited by the FBI (sounded super cool but unlikely) or 2) become a cop first and get promoted. I also knew that when working for the government, the higher lever of education you have, the more you get paid regardless of the degree. So, college was going to happen regardless. I started out as a Criminology major but that quickly changed after discovering I hated studying Sociology. I decided to switch to something I’ve always been good at, Math. So it was “easy” (at least for me).
It wasn’t until my Senior year that I had a rather vital conversation with my Aunt when I discovered that being a detective was less of a dream and more of something I locked myself into and it was time to reconsider. The problem was, I had been so set on being a detective that I hadn’t even thought of any other opportunities. That turned into another vital conversation with my brother where he told me to create a list of job postings that I found interesting and send them to him. This list was almost exclusively software development and analyst jobs. The truth was (as he pointed out) that I wasn’t qualified for a job like that but my only other seemingly viable option was to be a teacher and I wasn’t about to do that. So I started applying for anything that I thought could at least get me a foot in the door somewhere… anywhere.
My search proved futile until one day one of my friends told me about a consulting company that she was applying with and said I should apply as well. The draw to this company was that they hire people of all majors and train them on the job. Even better, her ex-boyfriend (an acquaintance of mine) not only worked there but was going to be at the job fair. Because of that connection, I ended up with an interview and getting the job without fully understanding what I was going to be doing (proving Bob’s point in The Power of Who when it comes to using your network). The interesting thing about this company is that they don’t actually place you in a particular role until after a 4 week training class and they have assessed your strengths and weaknesses. As far as I was concerned, it was the foot in the door I needed.
After I completed the 4 week training, the company saw my technical strengths and put me straight into software development. This seems like it should be exactly what I wanted but in truth, it absolutely freaked me out (spent the night I got the news sobbing and stressed). I was becoming more and more aware of just how under qualified I was for the job and had no idea how I was going to earn my keep. But I buckled down and did the work and learned as much as I possibly could and I ended up really enjoying it!
The amazing thing it that I encountered person after person who saw potential in me and invested themselves in helping me grow each step of the way. This has been a continuous trend and ultimately connected me with the person who introduced me to the company I work for now, Improving (again, proving Bob’s Power of Who). This company is all about trust and culture and is helping mold me to become the person so many others were to me. I felt like I won the lottery when I got this job!
I say the path to where I am was “easy” because I feel like I fell into my career as a result of a series of events with just enough luck or divine intervention. But if you taker a closer look, that’s not how the picture is painted. It starts with not being willing to settle (was not willing to consider being a teacher) and starting out in a field I could be passionate about. I wasn’t passionate about it when I started (I was interested at best) but I followed my heart and truly believe that is why I ended up being successful. Since my heart was in it, the work never felt hard and the people around me were much more willing to invest in me.
It’s a commonly known saying — “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life”. I’m not entirely convinced that’s true. No matter how much you love what you do, there will be days that are just going to be work and there will be plenty of days that you feel drained and run down. I think the point is that if you are passionate about what you do then those days will be totally worth it. I think that’s super important to remember because we will all inevitably end up with a difficult client, boss or project (yes, even in your “dream job”) and when we do, it’s way too easy to look at that saying and think, “I must be in the wrong place” or “this isn’t what I thought it would be” but it’s the difficult times that are a huge part of the “worth it” in the end.