When I was 5, I wanted to be a paleontologist. When I was 10, I wanted to be a chef. When I was 14, a doctor. The medical dream persisted right up until the time when someone told me “If you can be happy doing anything else, don’t put yourself through med school.” Of course I could be happy doing something else, I thought. Med school sounds like a lot of work for someone who is perfectly content serving coffee. So just like that, I put aside 10 years of extracurricular resume boosting, 4 years of a microbiology degree and a year of cramming for the MCAT aside.
Don’t get me wrong, all of those experiences had merit apart from the end goal of med school. I loved my degree, and fighting with journal articles and anatomy memorization throughout university made my brain as strong as it is today. But the cost (both financially and mentally) of battling through medical school just didn’t seem worth it.
So I needed to choose a new direction. I knew from a summer documenting mushroom genealogy that lab work wasn’t for me. (Seriously, I took pictures of little brown mushrooms in a basement for an entire summer). How do you decide what you want to spend the rest of your life doing?
In the end, I didn’t really choose. I ramped up my part-time job slinging coffee at Starbucks into a full-time manager position herding teenagers at Starbucks. But the thing was… I really really enjoyed it. Some of my happiest days have been working in a coffee shop, making customers happy and caffeinated by efficiently handing over the perfect 5am cuppa.
Working in customer support was a natural extension of serving coffee and failed med school dreams. Don’t laugh — it’s true! I wanted to spend my days helping people. And a career in customer support, from chatting front line to managing support reps, let me do exactly that. Every day I had an opportunity to make someone’s life better, even in the smallest interactions.
And this why I think writing content is an excellent next step for me. Customer support relies on communicating through words. Businesses rely on communicating with customers through their content. More than ever, business rely on telling their stories to build relationships with customers — whether that’s through blogs, case studies or how to guides. I know that my background working with customers will mean my content is consistently helpful, valuable and easy to understand. In return, I get to create resources that will help people be successful in their own lives.
I think there’s a beauty in the way our professional lives emerge from a series of decisions. We collect skills on the path, throwing new knowledge into our pack and then bundle them together at temporary camp sites along the way. While I don’t think my skills will ever make my 5 year old dream of being a paleontologist come true, I’m very much intrigued to see what happens next.
Where’s your pack of skills going to lead you next?