Moving From Day Job to Dream Job: 4 Tips For Women In The Workplace
Editor’s Note: Hannah Brencher is one of the most driven, loving girls I know. Over the last couple years, we’ve eyed each other from different sides of the Internet and watched the other try, try, and try again – and she has created some extraordinary things. She is the creator of More Love Letters, Communications Assoc for Save The Children, a researcher for She’s The First, and writes at her own blog at HannahKaty.com. You can tweet her some love after absorbing her wisdom at @hannahkatyb. – Lauren
Growing up, I was never the girl who gave much thought to her wedding day beyond the kind of cake I wanted to eat in a pretty white dress.While my friends plotted & planned the day they’d wed a Backstreet Boy, I kept quiet – the same, sweet picture sitting in my head of a one day, some day office space and a career to call my own.
Since my smallest forms of self, that was the dream.
I envisioned a desk piled high with meaningful work; a network of strong supporters and faithful business partners; a chance to do something really wonderful within the realms of social good and business and media.
I find myself here, knee-deep in “careerdom” (a word that I so appropriately made up for this article) after the first few years of letting God bob and weave me through the working world, swerving past the Valley of Defining Business Casual Attire, hurdling through a series of obstacles strewn before me: Resumes. Interviews. First jobs.
It is only the start of my career but already I’ve gathered so much from what it means to hold a dream given to you in your own two hands.
1. Gain experience… anywhere.
When I pictured careerdom, I saw lattes abounding and an office space resembling that of a freshly decorated IKEA store space.
I never saw myself hauling a printer box two times the size of my body down Madison Avenue while trying to balance in perfectly impractical heels, pulling it back to my windowless office space to place beside a desk I had yet to assemble all on my own. The directions were in German. I cried.
Maybe it is just my generation but we tend to have some lofty expectations about the “first job”.
My advice: Squash ‘em. Early. And instead, vow to take in all experiences, good and bad, to build a character within you that can take on any obstacle along the way.
Take on volunteer work. Work the extra hours. Do the hard stuff even if you don’t know how you’ll get it done. Open your hands up to anything and everything that will prepare you for another level. Show that you’re trustworthy. Keep the integrity but don’t be afraid to show that you want it. Be willing to stretch for the next level.
It is within those blood-sweat-tears moments where your body is on the verge of collapse that you’ll learn how very capable you are. How strongly He has equipped you. How much He trusts you to take on good and challenging work within this world. And that is a moment, mixed with exhaustion and amazing, that can never be beat.
2. Your worth will never come from a piece of paper.
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I was a girl who stood before potential employers with a resume crinkled by the shaking of my own two hands and a speech ready to be spouted from the mouth about how worthy I was for the position.
Worthy. A strange little word that God never intended us to go out and seek in the world. We are already worthy. We are already His. And yet we forget it so often as we stack up our references and our notable accomplishments.
I let that piece of paper, my “professional image”, define me for the longest time and I have to caution those who may fall into the same trap.
Yes, a resume is important. Yes, it should be presentable and a good representation of your best work. No, it should not define you and if you seek that kind of value to the ends of every day, you will come up empty.
Learn yourself off that paper. Know what makes you valuable not merely as an employer but as a human being and a child of God. If you don’t know that before you sit down to churn out a mammoth resume, then perhaps there is a bigger boulder to tackle first.
3. Connection lives in cups of coffee.
I used to cringe over “networking”. The very word left me crawling from my skin and ducking for the corner. This was mainly because someone first taught me that networking was all about me and what I wanted. They were so wrong.
Networking is never about you. Networking exists on creating a meaningful relationship that will benefit all involved. So you are in there somewhere – just not the forefront, my friend.
Be it a mentorship relationship or a business partnership, the way you handle the networking will determine the strength and the solidity of the relationships yet to come.
Admire someone? Ask them out to a cup of coffee. Looking for pointers? Propose a Skype date. Wanting to grow stronger in a field you don’t have experience within? Tweet it out there and see what comes back.
Thankfully, we’re human beings. We like to help one another. We crave connection. We delight in sitting down to know one another in and out of the office settings.
As someone who has found her best friends, pen pals, and people who will one day stand beside her on her wedding day through the word “networking” I can honestly encourage this: Bring your heart to every encounter. Sew it to your sleeve before the coffee date. Approach networking with grace and integrity to reach a point of meaningful connections that don’t have to end when 5pm arrives.
4. Keep your day job, find your dream job.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is this: Your dream job does not exist yet. You have to be the one to create it.
In the years that have piled since college, I have found nothing to be truer than this. Day jobs are essential. They pay bills. They keep us secure. We all need them and sometimes we struggle when they don’t really satisfy us.
It’s normal. Don’t let it discourage you but don’t feel wrong for searching outside of what you already have.
We’ve got a good, good God who honors the searching. He honors obedience to a workplace. He honors the longings of our hearts. And he fills those longings in His time.
My dream job grew out of a day job. Outside of my 9-5 job, one I thought was my “dream job”, I started an organization that suddenly fueled me in a way I’d never known. Made me more passionate and hungry than I have ever felt before.
When you find that hunger, don’t let it go. Dare to think about what that dream job might look like for you. Dare to place it on your heart and insert it into prayers. Dare to sit down and doodle it on scraps of papers & napkins.
And, if you haven’t yet started to imagine a dream job just yet, dare Him to reveal it to you.
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