You’ve probably heard that essay by Mary Schmich, popularized by Baz Luhrmann, “Advice, like Youth, Probably Wasted on the Young,” better known as “Wear Sunscreen.” It’s a hypothetical commencement speech that was published in the June ’97 issue of the Chicago Tribune. It contains a lot of really good advice for young people and not-so-young people alike.
For this article, you draw on this little tidbit of wisdom: “The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.”
Your twenties are a time of intense self-discovery. One of the biggest things people of this generation angst about, an angst that may very well follow you into your early thirties and beyond, is the anxiety of finding your dream job. Your calling. Your raison d’être.
The funny thing is that once you find your dream job, that dream may even one day change too. And that’s all right. If you’re looking for a little wisdom to help you find and land your current dream job, check this out.
This is excellent advice for anything, really. You have to know yourself—what you’re like, what you want—to have fulfilling relationships, concrete goals, all that good stuff.
When it comes to work, what “knowing yourself” means is that you should be able to clearly define what your strengths and weaknesses are. Don’t be afraid to test yourself. Take relevant seminars and classes in your desired field and apply for a professional assessment of your skills.
Expand Your Network
A lot of people think of “networking” as this really cynical process of meeting people mainly for the purpose of using them as connections. But a lot of people are going about it all wrong. Networking is just shorthand for meeting awesome people in your field of interest, getting to pick their brains and hearing their stories, and most importantly, learning from them.
Meeting the “right” people who can help get you into your dream job is a bonus. The real reward is in meeting the people who can actually teach you stuff and help make you better at what you do.
Develop Your Skills
If you’re a writer, write. If you’re an editor, edit. If you’re a graphic designer, then design your little heart out. Build your brand, start that website, and showcase your talents and your unique voice just by doing what it is you love doing.
Your charm, charisma, and connections get your foot through the door, but your skills will land you that job. And if like many people you suffer from the occasional bout of imposter syndrome, there’s nothing to best remedy that than knowing that you’re working hard and doing your absolute best.
One proverb goes, “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” Remember that, when you’re changing careers, often you have to start at the very bottom. Don’t be afraid to dive into a new career, but also make sure you’ve got your savings in order for rainy days.
Looking for a job can feel like a full-time job on its own. There are few things more stressful and anxiety-making than job hunting . . . except, maybe, unemployment. So take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise.
When you’re on the hunt for a job, make sure you’re in good health and that you’re ready for any sneaky health checks. Do a natural detox or use a detox kit to get rid of any toxins in your system and pass a urine drug test before you go in for that interview. Most employers probably don’t care about prospective employees doing a little giggle smoke every now and then, but it pays to be prepared.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
At least, not while you’re trying to discover what you really want to do. Your time after work is yours; spend that time developing your skill set for what you know you eventually want to do.
Building your portfolio when you’re worried about how to pay your bills is extremely hard, almost impossible. Resist the urge to quit your day job the minute you’ve got your first freelance client; keep that job until you’re sure you’ve got a steady client base and that you can keep a roof over your head and food in your belly with that project.
Before You Go . . .
Remember that the job market is rife with failure and rejection. It’s all part of paving the way to your dream job. In fact, studies show that rejection makes you a better person, and a better professional slash creative.