I tried to ignore my sweaty palms and quick heartbeat as I walked into the waiting area for my dream job interview. I was excited, nervous, and tightly clutching a folder containing examples of related work experience and projects. I knew I had something great to offer, but I didn’t know who I was up against for the role.
They called my name. I took a deep breath, stood up, and walked into the interview room. I met the gaze of three interviewers with a smile and handshake. After a 30-minute interview and a 60-minute writing test, I had no idea how well I actually did. I was exhausted but satisfied with my performance. I did the best I could have done.
Two days later, I was called in for a second interview with the highest-ranking manager. The interview lasted 30 minutes. It was last minute and I was not dressed up for the occasion (it was casual Friday), but luckily they were understanding due to time constraints. I left handwritten thank you notes with the receptionist as I exited the building, said a quick prayer, and walked excitedly to my car.
A few days later, I got the call I had been praying for…..I got the job!
Four years ago, I graduated with my MBA concentrated in marketing. On graduation day, the air smelled sweet with optimism and success. Somehow I knew things would be different now that I had this degree. It was my ticket to the career I so badly wanted. I could finally stop studying so hard and writing late into the night.
I was WRONG.
The lessons I learned since graduating were so pivotal and painful, but they molded me so I could discover what I was meant to do.
A college degree simply isn’t enough on its own to land the perfect job. I needed specific skills, marketable experience, and a strategic approach to make them profitable. I discovered ways to make that happen, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me a few years to properly align myself for the right career path, but you get to learn from my mistakes in the next five minutes! 😊 🙌
Here are four simple lessons I learned that led me to my dream job:
1. Write down all of your job responsibilities, and circle the ones that you enjoy.
If you don’t enjoy any of them, well…..it is clearly time to move on. If there are at least one or two you like, such as writing or solving complex problems, look for side projects that allow you to do more of those things. A long time ago, I used to write newspaper articles because I was good at writing and enjoyed it. Doing so honed my writing skills and was helpful in future positions – especially my dream job.
2. Learn a new skill – or several!
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty by starting a new project of which you have little knowledge. I learned new skills in my free time before landing my dream job, and it helped SO much. I learned how to use Adobe InDesign and also practiced my writing skills by taking on social media projects. I was not paid for any of it, but it paid off when I got the offer letter I really wanted.
3. Wordsmith your experience.
It’s important to understand that how you present your experience on paper is just as important as the experience itself.
For example, here are two bullet points for the same job responsibilities:
• wrote recruitment plan and increased enrollments via growth strategies
• drafted a marketing plan for my department and executed strategies for future growth which resulted in 60 percent increased enrollments
I chose the second bullet point when finalizing my resume for my dream job (the job was in communications and marketing).
The wording is different but the skills are the same – and there is numerical value attached to what I know. Doing so shows how my skills impact the bottom line.
4. Update your resume with new projects – both paid and unpaid.
Experience is experience. Getting paid for it is irrelevant in terms of how it’s listed on your resume. The side projects I did are listed as highlighted experience on my resume which made me look desirable in two ways – initiative and desire to learn.
Bringing It All Together
Taking these four steps will help you discover what you are meant to do. Keep in mind you may not figure it out right away, and that’s okay. The key is to continue working on side projects that motivate you to be better and do better than the day before. Eventually, doing what you love will become a full time reality.
If you know you are meant for something more, do not ignore it. Life is too short to be anything but happy and fulfilled.
Is there an aspect of your career path you are unsure about? Or maybe it is time for something completely different? Comment at the bottom of this page! I want to hear your story.