What do you want to be when you grow up?
I attended my brother’s college graduation this past weekend, and I had a few moments to remember back to my college graduation. I was looking forward at the adult life, career, getting married, going forward with a whole chapter…. then, I fell flat on my face in the career department. The marriage and the adult life worked out great, but the career was pretty much in the toilet! In the three years since graduation, the marriage and adult life are better than ever, and the career is finally on the up-swing. I’m gaining a lot of knowledge and experience in several different areas of marketing, and I’m well on my way to getting my MBA. So, how did I get here, and what did I learn along the way?
The paths we walk are winding. I never thought I’d end up where I am after the twisty path I took. I started out as a musical theater major at a small (think smaller than my high school!) liberal arts college in Arkansas. After a series of unfortunate events, and coming to terms with the fact that I was not, in reality, going to be a Broadway star, I transferred to a large state school and tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I finally found marketing, but when I moved to California just as the market crashed, I found out that no one really wanted to hire a marketer. I had recruiters and decision-makers tell me that I was in the worst possible geographic area for my skill set, that 3 years ago I would’ve been the perfect candidate, and that no one could afford to hire a marketer full-time. It was discouraging to say the least, and I ended up job-hunting in my home state of Texas, since we have a much more diversified business community. After all that, I’ve learned that there’s rarely a straight shot to the “dream job”. Sometimes you have to take jobs you don’t like, use skills you haven’t fully developed, and consider options that seem to come out of the blue.
Be flexible. Since the paths we walk are winding, you’ve got to be flexible! When I graduated college, I had it all planned out: the type of job and product, the size of the company, the dress code… basically, I thought I was going to get the dream job. Sure, I pretended to scale it down to “reality”, but the truth is, I had a rigid set of criteria that I HAD to follow. Wrong! I ended up working for a start-up (not my idea of a great environment), in a super casual office (not my idea of a good dress code), and the manufacturing industry (not my idea of of the perfect product). However, as ridiculous as that job was, I did learn a lot about how things probably shouldn’t go the next time around. I also took freelancing opportunities to dabble in some areas that I hadn’t learned about in school. In short, I finally decided to just walk the path that was available, instead of sitting still until I could go straight to my “destination”.
The new wears off. Now that I’m in a much more suitable job, pursuing my master’s, and living life like a normal person, I’ve come to realize that the “new” wears off. Everything isn’t a bright shiny toy like I thought it would be. And you know what? It’s kind of awesome being in a routine of productivity! I am starting to realize that the job isn’t all there is to life, and that sometimes a lazy weekend at home with my husband is just as good as the high from a crazy day at the office. Don’t get me wrong, I like to have a rush from a deadline at work, and I’m still striving to make those deadlines bigger and faster. But I think we all believe life is like a movie, and I’ve found that once the new wears off, you’ve got to have a strong foundation underneath to make life worthwhile.
Watching the graduates this weekend made me quite introspective about where I’ve been and where I’m going, and I think I’ve grown and matured a lot over the past 3 years. It also made me look forward to the day that I don another cap and gown to attend my graduation ceremony from the master’s program, and once again move forward with bright-eyed enthusiasm. I’m glad to say, though, that I’m pretty satisfied with the present!