“I’ve recently graduated and I’m not very excited about my career choices. I’ve spent all this time and money to earn a degree. What should I do?”
Friend, I see you…and totally feel you. I’ve pursued several different career fields in my day:
- Graphic design
- Marine biology
- Social work
- Personal fitness training
Unlike you (you’re a rockstar, #srsly), I never completed most of my degree programs. Yeah…I couldn’t decide what I wanted to “be” when I grew up. Even my Bachelor’s degree is “interdisciplinary.”
No shame in my game …
… and you shouldn’t feel ashamed either.
But since you asked, I think we may be able to help you find your dream job.
What is a dream job?
First, what even is a dream job? Generally speaking (and we hate to generalize), a dream job combines an activity, skill, or passion with a money-making opportunity.
We all have different skills and passions.
- You may enjoy complete autonomy while someone else may prefer supervision.
- You may loathe data entry while someone else will be giddy at the idea.
- And…it’s very likely you and your parents have different definitions of a dream job as well. (No surprise there…)
However, people working in their dream jobs often say the following about their work:
I am engaged and challenged.
I am able to help others.
I get to use my special talents and skills.
I enjoy the people I work with.
My company and workplace are amazing.
Did you know, if you’re not thrilled at the job descriptions you find online, you can write your own? Yes, that’s a thing. And it helps ensure that you enjoy what it is you do at work.
The first step to writing your ideal job description is to know yourself.
Socrates was once asked why he wasn’t exploring mythology and other popular philosophical topics of the day like his peers.
Socrates responded by saying,
“I have no leisure for them at all; and the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able…to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things.”
He basically called the other philosophers of his day morons. As if that wasn’t salty enough, he criticized their pursuit of knowledge calling it irrelevant. That had to sting.
Maybe that’s why Socrates is so well known even now. He was on to something.
If you don’t know yourself, what motivates you, annoys you, inspires you, frustrates you, etc. then you can’t begin to define your dream job. And that is the first crucial step in landing it!
If you would like to land a dream job, take some time to answer the questions below.
Question: If you could make one change to your professional career preparation, what would it be?
You may think we’re a bit salty for asking this question.
Here’s the thing: If you feel this way now, after having spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours pursuing a degree or career field you aren’t interested in anymore…what’s to say you won’t do it again?
Perhaps you completed a degree in an industry that has experienced a major downturn. Maybe you’ve decided you’re interested in another career path. Your answer to this question will lead you down a better path.
You might be out of money…but you can still find your dream job. How? You need to define it to find it.
Question: List three professional goals you would like to accomplish at a job.
Knowing what goals you want to accomplish makes it easy to decide which jobs you should apply for. For example, if you want to learn marketing skills, you wouldn’t apply to be a stock clerk or a valet. But you could learn a lot by being a receptionist or retail sales associate.
On a side note: Get used to setting goals for yourself. Most companies will hire candidates that are enthusiastic learners. They also like to hire people who are ambitious. Being able to express your goals to the hiring manager tells them you fit the bill.
Question: How do you keep yourself motivated to complete a task or project?
Like doing laundry or exercising, you might need a deeper motivation to reach the end of work projects. Your answer to this question will help you find the right work environment for you.
When you start looking at new opportunities, dig a little deeper. Find out the bonus or advancement structure at the company. If you would enjoy work challenges because of the reward system the company has in place – you might be a good fit.
Question: If you were to start your own business, what product/service would you market? To whom would you sell? Who would be included in your “dream team” to launch the company?
Finding a dream job is one part knowing yourself and one part knowing what you like. If you like and enjoy a product or service, maybe you’d like to be part of the process?
- Do you love camping? Maybe you’d make a great park ranger or tour guide.
- If smoothies are your go-to breakfast, you might enjoy working at a health food store, learning more and sharing your passion and knowledge with patrons.
- Maybe you have a (slight) obsession with plants. Work at a nursery or landscape design company and dig in!
Why did we ask you to consider your dream team? Because that will tell you the kinds of people you’ll work best with. If you are very introverted, you may not pair well with a hands-on type manager.
Another, often overlooked, secret in finding your dream job is shifting your attitude.
Shift your attitude
Have you ever walked into a restaurant, department store, or clothing boutique and been immediately put off by an employee? They were obviously having a bad day and based on their very loud grumbling, it seemed they often had bad days at work.
Here’s the secret to enjoying your work – it’s all in your head.
You can choose to make any job enjoyable or unbearable. Here are some jobs I’ve had which I thoroughly enjoyed.
- Stable hand
- Car detailer
- Yacht maid
- Dish washer
- Microfiche photographer (you might have to look that one up)
Yes … some of these jobs were weird. I broke a sweat for a few of them. One of them really stunk (literally).
But I enjoyed the experiences. I learned from the people I worked with. I discovered skills I didn’t know I had. I made future decisions based upon each job that all led me to where I am today.
More often than not, having a positive mental attitude is what makes a job – any job – rewarding.
If you find yourself stuck at a crossroads, don’t despair. Instead, give yourself space for some introspection. Answer the questions we included here. Your answers will give you insights into which direction you should take.
Adopt a positive attitude about your job search. The hiring authority will appreciate your enthusiasm and favor you over the Karen that just interviewed.
Also, think about writing your own job description and pitching it to the hiring authority at a company you think you might enjoy working for. Doing so will show them you know yourself, have a great attitude, and will be a valuable addition to the team.