Let’s face it: If you weren’t born with a trust fund the size of Jupiter or into a family with strategically well-placed connections to the business world (and thus to ready-made employment), you’re going to need a job to pay the bills. This month’s rent waits for no man, and a growling stomach will soon convince you that working for The Man might be one of those “necessary evils” you hear about on the television sometimes. The trouble isn’t that no one knows this. After all, children are groomed from the time they can say their ABC’s to grow up, graduate college, and get a job. Then it’s a forty-year marathon to retirement, after which you get a gold watch and the free time to finally do all the stuff you would’ve liked to do twenty years earlier.
Here’s the thing about that model: It’s a dinosaur. It might’ve worked like gangbusters in the 1950s – heck, for the last couple centuries, even – but today, for today’s workforce, it’s a bust. Millennials are hungry to make their passion their career, or at least to get the two as closely aligned as possible. Corporate world thinking just hasn’t caught on or caught up quite yet, which is why it can sometimes seem as if the younger generations are career elitists when nothing could be further from the truth.
In other words, the trouble isn’t programming or work ethic – the trouble is an ill-fitting reality that’s overdue for a remodel. If any of this resonates with you, then just read on to find out the three keys to slaying the Dark Monday of the Soul. A work-life balance makeover is closer than you think!
Baby, Light My Fire
The first component to finding a career that you can dive into happily, confidently, and successfully is to isolate and understand your own unique interests. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Strike that – what keeps you awake at night like a little kid waiting on Santa to show up with your presents? Anything you do (or think you might like to do at some point) that generates that kind of interest is worth pursuing. Don’t let people dissuade you, either. If you’re rabid about beekeeping or the backstage element of television production, why on earth would you want to lock yourself in a cubicle for 10 hours a day at an accounting firm, especially when you hate math? Oh, the money’s better? It had better be – nothing says acute depression like being sentenced to four decades at a job you truly couldn’t care less about. Money is important. So is doing your best at whatever career you do undertake – you owe that to your bosses and to yourself. At the end of the day, though, you won’t stick with a job you hate for the long haul, and that’s a lose-lose for everyone. A job you enjoy (as opposed to one you merely endure) is the foundation of your adult life. Don’t neglect it.
You’re a Natural, Kid
Go get a pen and some paper. Now sit down in a quiet spot and write down all the things you’re really, honestly good at. Nothing is too minor or major, and there aren’t really any wrong answers. If you’re good at a particular thing – if you’re skilled at it – then list it. Now ask yourself how you can translate those skills into a career in “the real world.” Whether your skills lie in reading people, organizing stuff, juggling flaming bowling pins, or the skillful navigation of AP Style, the chances are good that you’re possessed of at least a few traits & capabilities that can help you earn a nice living. Nurture them – if you’re good at them, you can teach other people to be good at them too. That’s how leaders are made, and how great companies are born.
Courting Lady Luck and Answering Opportunity’s Knock
The final facet of a work-life balance to kill for is a bit more nebulous than the first two. Opportunities and blind luck play a bigger role in landing (and keeping) the perfect career than you might think. Of course, the savvy employee knows that you make your own luck. Is there a job no one else wants to do? Take it on, then knock it out of the park. Is there some kind of conference in your field? Book a ticket and schmooze! An object in motion tends to stay in motion – little efforts on your part builds strong momentum, and combining that momentum with a firm eye on your goal – a career built around your innate interests (it’s your foundation, remember?) – can literally change your life.
Conclusion / Closing Thoughts
There you have it: The one-stop primer for making a career out of the things you’re good at and passionate about. Keep it handy, follow it studiously (don’t just focus on two out of three facets, for instance!), and watch your world bloom. Thanks for reading, and good luck!
****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Amy Klimek!!****
About the author: Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that Amy has held similar roles at Rent.com, eBay and US Interactive.
For Amy, corporate culture isn’t about dogs and free lunches, it’s about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel.