Meet me seven months ago. I was totally lost. Like really lost. I had graduated with my Master of Public Health in 2011 and had great experiences on my resume, everything from teaching to creating events to non-profits, and had been struggling to find a career (not a job, a career) for years. I was applying everywhere, and getting nowhere. I pissed and moaned for these several years, and was starting to come to the conclusion that there was something wrong with me. Then God (or a god, or the universe, or an ancestor, something) must have turned on a light bulb because I thought to myself, “Wow, going in the front door isn’t working. I’m going to try the backdoor.”
The key here is to recognize that what you are doing isn’t working. What is the definition of insanity? Repeating the same process and expecting different results? Picture a Roomba stuck in a corner. It will keep banging itself forward and never change direction. You need to change direction (ie. your tactic).
I never did. Didn’t expect that one, huh? Me either. A month went by and I contacted her again. I called and emailed, just to make sure she got my message. Less than a week later another woman from the office called me and set up a meeting immediately, they were ecstatic to have someone with my experience on board. So,
2. Be persistent
Getting anywhere in this world requires persistence. Don’t be a quitter. Okay, if you have gotten a flat out rejection or ejected from an office, or have your picture hanging on the security guard’s wall, maybe it’s time to redirect (see #1). However, if I had just given up and let that lady think “I don’t know where to put someone that has a Master’s and experience and wants to work for free” (which she did), then I would still be at the same old job, pissing and moaning away. The new lady I was in touch with had me start right away. She thought I was a bit crazy, volunteering with that much schooling, but I was, you got it, persistent. I worked at my other job and volunteered. Yup, I was tired. But it was worth it.
Less than two months after volunteering I was offered a paid position in the office. No, it definitely wasn’t my ideal job, not even something that was related to my field, but I took it. I recognized the value of a good “in” with a business.
3. Keep an open mind
Sometimes when we want something really bad, we put on blinders and can’t accept anything other than that end goal. Nothing else fits, we can only see one end and one end only, and the rest is a failure. If this is you, you need to change your mind set. You need to learn that having your ultimate end goal is awesome, but you will not get there overnight. You might have to work one, two, or three (or more) jobs in between, fail several times, pick yourself up several times, and keep going several times. I believe that my and similarly aged generations expect to have it all immediately (because I want it now), and I am finding out that isn’t the way the world works. Sorry. Word hard, and it will pay off. Three months after I started I got promoted to another not-so-ideal job, but it was a huge leap up in the business and was a great resume builder.
Keep an open mind to opportunities, whether it is work, volunteering, friends, books, events, anything. You will inevitably learn in some way, grow in some way, benefit in some way. And also, it is a great way to
4. Network your pants off
While in the job I was promoted to, I took classes, went to events, did everything the business offered for their employees to start building my web. I took two different classes, introduced myself to both instructors, and BOOM insta-connect, we had a lot in common and they are great resources in the field I really want to be in. Will it lead somewhere? I don’t know, I sure hope so, but regardless, I put myself out there and will keep doing so until I get to where I want to be.
I see it every day in the office world, it is all too easy to get complacent and say “Yeah, I think I can do this for the paycheck” and just coast right on through the rest of your career life. DON’T be that person. In the end, you will look back and realize you wasted most of your life doing something you weren’t enjoying/growing/benefitting from. Even if you love your job, keep looking for that next step. Keep looking for chances to grow. You don’t have to leave your current job, but maybe join a club and become a better gardener. Take a dance lesson with your bestie. Become a vintage furniture refinisher. Ask to help on that big project at work. Do something, anything, which builds your character and contributes to your personal growth in some way. This will also help you (#4) network your pants off.
Life is too short to be unpassionate. Keep building, keep growing, and keep striving towards that better you.