This was my exact situation two years ago: I was struggling to find a path to my ideal career using the work experience I already had. Here are three quotes that demonstrate how I was able to find my way. Each quote promotes a mindset that will help you build a sound career foundation.
“Do what you have to do, in order to do what you want to do.”
—Denzel Washington, The Great Debaters
This concept is similar to having to take one course before you are allowed to take another. Ensure that you research the prerequisites for whatever you want to do and complete those tasks first (educational courses, certifications, work experience, outreach, and so forth). Additionally, don’t resist taking on responsibilities you initially may not find beneficial. For instance, before I became a trainer, I was working as an eligibility clerk. I was given tedious assignments such as consolidating registration forms or making appointment reminder calls to patients, work I thought was more suitable for interns or volunteer staff. However, later I realized that the experience helped increase my customer service and curriculum-building skills. Thus, it is important to view every job as an opportunity to optimize your skills and not as a setback.
“Wise men make more opportunities than they find.”
—Sir Francis Bacon
Time and time again I was turned down for positions that I felt were more in line with what I wanted to do. I began to feel stuck and frustrated, but I learned that I had to create the opportunities I wanted instead of trying to find ones that already existed. So, I contacted the organizational learning and effectiveness (OLE) department at my company and asked if they had any open positions. They told me they didn’t, so I asked if I could volunteer in their department to gain experience. Although they said the volunteer position would be unpaid, I happily pursued the opportunity. I volunteered in the OLE department for four months, gaining experience in facilitating new employee orientation, designing and coordinating workshops, developing standard works, and deploying employee engagement surveys. I was able to network with people who had the job titles and knowledge I wanted; as a result, I was referred to a group facilitation skills workshop that became a vital addition to my resume.
Be confident and resourceful when establishing a career foundation. Remember, the only limits that exist are the ones you create.
“For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.”
—Amy Carmichael, If
In the midst of trying to find the job that’s right for you, your patience and politeness will be tested. Learn to persevere and remain humble despite life’s trials and tribulations. When you feel angry, uninspired, or defeated, ask yourself:
- How will being rude to my co-workers or customers benefit me?
- How will being lazy at work because it’s “not what I want to do” positively contribute to my work ethic?
- How will being cynical allow me to approach challenging situations objectively?
Try to envision what your triumphant testimony will look like once you have successfully accomplished your goals. Don’t let spiteful co-workers, irate customers, unorganized work environments, or an unsupportive manager deter you from growing professionally. Consistency and patience are key, and you may even enjoy the journey if you smile along the way!
According to R.M. Frischmann in Online Personal Brand: Skill Set, Aura, and Identity, “Transferable skills are the ones that can be used across subjects and disciplines. Technical skills are related to a specific discipline.” You must work passionately to obtain the technical skills you need to be hired for the position you want. But equally important, you must identify which skills you currently possess that are transferable. There’s strength in being proactive; do what’s necessary, create a path if there isn’t one, and remember that a smile is your greatest accessory.
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