Make Every Job a Step in the Right Direction
by Tracy Jean
Many dream careers start with a job that is in the area you want, but not quite where you want to be. Sometimes it’s hard to see whether the job you have now is actually getting you anywhere. Doing your time is an important part of getting started, but how do you know when it has become wasting your time?
I’m going to assume that you have a detailed description of where you dream of ending up. The next step is to list all of the skills/experiences you need to create that ultimate career. Analyze your current job for where it is supporting that vision, and where it isn’t. For example, imagine someone who wants to be a film director and is currently a runner for a game show. The things on their skills list for their dream career could be industry knowledge, creativity, contacts, technical ability, budgeting, and recruiting. The pluses of the current job may be things like industry knowledge, contacts, exposure to processes and technology, learning to work as part of a creative team. However, the minuses could be gaining no actual film contacts, having no time to be creative, being underpaid, and under valued. Take this information and rate your current job against the overall things you need to get your dream career. If half or more of the things you need are being fulfilled by what you’re currently doing, you’re probably in a great position. Otherwise, it could be time to start looking elsewhere.
Before starting again, define what roles will get you closest to what you need. Look at the skills you have listed and brainstorm on jobs that will develop those skills. To increase the number of choices for getting a job with value, think laterally. For example, the budding film director could also gain important skills from the areas of theatre, event management, teaching/lecturing, marketing, publicity, and advertising. Looking objectively at the skills you need could allow you to come up with many more options.
If you are lucky enough to be in a position that is definitely adding to your dream career, ask yourself, could you be gaining even more value? Refer back to the skills you listed, specifically those that are not being covered by your current job. Is there any way that you could change that situation? In the example of the runner, perhaps he or she could get involved in other areas of TV production to use their creativity, or earn more money, or how they could leverage what they have access to now like equipment and knowledge. The main point to remember in this instance is that if you start taking on more, you need to ensure that you are still maintaining the same level of commitment to your primary job.
It’s easy to get discouraged when where you are now and where you want to be seem like polar opposites. However, if you are able to define the value in what you have now or what you want next, then you can begin to use every job as a step towards your dream career.