When I graduated college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my business degree. Scratch that. During college I also had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew that I was interested in marketing as well as some aspects of HR. (Hence why I did concentrations in both of these areas.) The thought of picking just one of these routes in my career was so daunting though. So…I took the easy way out and let my career kind of pick itself.
Wherever I got an opportunity is how I decided what I would ultimately do. I interned at two great companies in college doing HR-related work. So naturally, post-grad I ended up focusing on searching for HR-related work again. I also barely interviewed with new companies. Maybe that was a little bit of laziness, maybe it was because I felt safe sticking to familiar faces. And that’s how I fell into the trap of going through the motions and not really casting my net as wide as I could have.
I’ve worked for several well-known companies in the Seattle area since my intern days. Companies that I was really proud to have on my resume. Then one day something clicked in my brain and I realized that’s not the shit that matters. It didn’t even really truly matter to me – I think I was trying to impress others. I thought that I would love my work more than if I was at a lesser known company or a smaller company, etc.
This is probably no surprise at all but I’ve always been a worrier. I used to worry so much about not having my career figured out or worried that all my peers were having way more success in their careers. (Even if that were true, so what?) We all go through life at our own pace. Not everyone figures it out on the first, second, or even third try.
It took me several tries myself at this but at this point in my life, I’ve found something that I’m super passionate about. Despite battling self-doubt and some really anxiety-filled times, I don’t regret a single step in my “journey” (*cringing as I type that because it sounds so cheesy, but I’m having a brain fart and can’t think of a better way to phrase that) to get to where I am today. The best part is there may be plenty of other opportunities and passions in my career path that I don’t know about yet. And that’s scary, but I know casting my net wider and stepping out of my comfort zone is going to pay off like it has.
Here are just a few tips to help you if you’re worried about your career path:
- Prioritize your wellness. First of all, you shouldn’t do anything about your career until you’ve taken care of yourself. In my first job out of college, my anxiety was getting out of control. I stopped drinking caffeine, talked to my mom during the work day when I needed to calm down, and did relaxing things like journaling when I needed to destress.
- Limit your social media intake. We’ve all done that annoying thing where we use social media to compare ourselves to other peoples’ highlight reels. Try to limit your social media usage or at least change how you intake everything. (I wrote a post on the “truth” of social media here.) Consume social media with a grain of salt.
- Find a mentor. Seek the advice and coaching of a mentor who can give you a different perspective. Some people may find a mentor in a completely different field to be refreshing. I think that’s up to you – but someone who is happy in their career is probably a good start.
- Reflect on what makes you happy about your current job. Maybe there’s a few aspects of your career that you love even though you hate the rest of it. Focus on what makes you excited to wake up in the morning and see how you can make that the majority of your work. Talk to your manager and ask for more opportunities in that area. Or maybe it’s time to brush up your resume and start looking.
- Network or have exploratory conversations. I’m not the biggest fan of networking but if you do it intentionally and genuinely, it can be the best thing you do for your career. Have exploratory conversations with people who work on different teams or at other companies is also a great way to find new opportunities.
- Learn a new skill. Sometimes feeling trapped because you’re unhappy causes us to be lazy. As challenging as it can be, learning a new skill will never hurt.