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4 Steps to Finding Your Dream Career

May 29, 2014

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In college, I majored in advertising. I was completely enthralled with the idea of writing witty taglines and telling compelling stories that evoke an emotional response to a brand. I graduated from college wide-eyed and ready to take on the world in New York City.  But after just a few informational interviews, I soon realized that I wasn’t the next Don Draper. Advertising just wasn’t for me, yet after spending so many years focused on breaking into that industry, I had absolutely no idea what was for me.

Fast-forward six years and now I’m embarking on my dream career as a writer and recipe developer. A lot different than advertising, I know. How did I get here, you might ask? Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward path or one-size-fits-all method. Finding my passion took a lot of hard work and dedication, but there are a few steps that really helped me along the way and can also guide you on your journey to a dream career.

Don’t Panic, Just Find a Job

Let’s say you just graduated from school, or you’re at a turning point in your life and you have no idea what you want to do with your career. The number one thing to remember is this: Do not panic. I know, this is much easier said than done. We’re taught to find our career early on and stick with it, but trust me, this is hardly ever how it works out! 

Find a job to support yourself (for me, it was an administrative assistant position), and don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you have a “job” rather than a “career”. You have your whole life to have a career, so use this time to find the right career for you, while bringing in a steady income!

Start a Blog

Or a Tumblr, or even just an old-fashioned journal! Find an outlet that you can use to document all of your passions, hobbies, and thoughts about your career. This will give you a way to explore everything without having to dive headfirst into a career in any one area.

When you start your blog, use it as a tool to help you find yourself first. Over time, you’ll start to see trends in your content. Maybe you are writing recipes or posts on Ayurvedic medicine four times a week while only one post a week is about fashion, or fitness. Remember, this content is for you. You have no obligation to share your blog in social media; you don’t even have to send it to your Mom!

If and when you decide to become more serious about blogging, you will have your content so focused that it will fit seamlessly into your career. This could mean that you use the blog to generate income or to show as a portfolio of your work to potential employers.

Try Everything That Interests You

While I was working as an admin, I started taking continuing education classes in color studies at The Fashion Institute for Technology, I did a few job shadow assignments with a major fitness brand, I worked with a Health Coach, and I continued to write recipes for my blog. I had no idea which of these paths could turn into a career rather than a hobby, and that’s ok! Trying on many different hats is all part of finding out which career is going to be the best fit for you.

Not sure how to distinguish between hobbies and real career options? Then it’s time to get a little creative! Start collecting images, articles, or phrases that represent each area of interest. Group them together by interest on a large piece of poster board and start brainstorming potential career options for each interest. You can even do this on Pinterest by creating secret boards for each of your interests and writing potential career options in the image text box.  

Remember to take all aspects of each career option into consideration, such as salary, quality of life, where you have to live to do this job, etc. You’ll quickly realize which potential careers you are most excited about pursuing, and which interests should remain a hobby.

Don’t be Scared of The Path Less Traveled

The biggest mistake that you can make is to stay in a job that you know isn’t right, but is too comfortable to leave. Maybe this means taking a slight pay cut to land a job in the industry that you want to be in, or starting classes after work to get a graduate degree in a different field.

You’ll have to work hard for what you want, and it may be difficult at times to juggle your career with all of your other obligations. If you’re passionate about your career path, then chances are you’ll enjoy the work that you’re putting in to reach your goal!  

Are you in a job that you love? How did you find your passion and embark on your career path? Share your story with us in the comment section below!