Now that I have started a job with a clear career path, I’d like to discuss the humbling time of the past five years which led to this new endeavor.
Disclaimer: anything can happen at any time, and I may end up changing careers again in the future. However, I feel as though I have landed a perfect job for me and my skill set and I do not plan to change course!
I have always been an ambitious person. I never doubted that I would have a fulfilling career after college graduation. The thing that I did not account for is that it would take five years to find a career path . . . For a goal-driven overachiever, five years is a long, long time. Especially when my assumption was that I would start my career the Monday after graduation :).
I assumed that getting a job would be the easiest part of being an adult and that starting a career would come naturally. Oh boy, was I SO. WRONG. While the wait was agonizing, this “incubation” period allowed me to grow into a person who could be successful in a career. By working less than ideal jobs, I became an adaptable employee who learned not to take the good days and the lucky breaks for granted.
I longed to do something meaningful, something that fit my unique personality and skill set. This desire fueled me to keep trying, to keep searching for jobs, to continue to show up everyday in the hopes that someone would notice and would reward my hard work. My fantasy became that I would get offered my dream-job while working my crappy job, ha!
I desperately wanted to contribute to the community by doing something that matters and that fulfilled me personally. I guess I wasn’t quite ready for that yet, so I ended up in various “learning” positions. My first stop was in retail sales.
I started as a timid, eager-to-please, sales associate. I ended as a bitter, annoyed, key-holder. You’d better believe those shoppers walked all over me in the beginning! Overtime, I learned not to take their shit and I developed a tougher skin. There were many moments of tears, frustration, and pure pain. I suffered greatly in this job, hating just about every minute. When I wasn’t hating it, I was bored, so retail sales was just not a good fit for me. And yet, I could not get another job no matter how hard I tried. Eighteen agonizing months and 11 serious job interviews later, I finally got hired to serve as an administrative assistant in a small tech company.
Unfortunately, the next job was worse than the previous and I found myself regretting the decision to leave retail. This time however, it was more to do with personality than with the job description. In this job, I learned what absolutely terrible management and lack of human empathy looks like. I high-tailed it out of there within five months! Still, the five month tech job did serve an important purpose in my career, as it led to a two-and-a-half year stint in a much more solid tech position.
In October 2015, things started to look up (FINALLY!) and my time spent doing things I hated began paying off. I made a connection through the small tech company which led to a better opportunity with a larger tech company, and because I had retail customer service experience I was an excellent candidate for the position.
I became very comfortable in this role and grew in confidence and finesse to complete tasks. I definitely grew into a molded, well-rounded employee, and wore off my “greenness.” Eventually, I outgrew the position, and sought a greater challenge. This time I was picky with my job search and it took about 20 months before I finally found “the one.”
I’ll tell you the truth: being put on the “back-burner” of the working world for so long gave me the capacity to nail that interview. I knew what they were looking for and I was determined to prove it was me. I did my research on the company, I was straight-forward, humorous, personal, and I communicated my abilities clearly. So now, I get to combine my administrative, writing, sales, phone, and customer service skills in my new position. As much as I fought my job situation every day of the past five years, I see the payoff now and appreciate the results of waiting, learning, and growing.
While there were countless times of frustration and despair, I did survive and I am much bolder now personally and professionally than I ever was, or ever would have been had I landed the dream job right away. This tough skin and the ability to soldier on limitlessly is something that I cultivated, and it is my greatest career accomplishment. I’m no longer timid nor scared; I am strong, confident, and firm.
I have found over and over again that timing is truly everything, especially when we are impatient. It seems that the quicker we wish things would happen, the more time they take to come to fruition.
It has taken me five years of active seeking to find a career path. I’m not sure how that compares to others, so I’d love to know: how long did it take you to find your career path? If you’re still searching, how long has it been?