Your dream job is out there. And one day, it’s going to be great. But you’re not ready for it now, so stop wasting your time looking.
Way harsh, Tai. I know. But listen, you’re not going to find your dream job two months after graduation. You just won’t. As well as intentioned as you may be, you’re not entitled to your dream job at twenty-two.
Your first job most likely won’t be in a cool office with natural light, yoga rooms, and exposed bricks (God, how I dream of exposed bricks). It’s probably not going to be in the exact field you want to end up in, and it will presumably involve tasks that you don’t yet realize are things people actually do for a job.
That doesn’t mean you can’t freaking love your first job.
It won’t be perfect, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be work that makes you excited to get out of bed (most) mornings. It won’t be glamorous, but that doesn’t mean it won’t satiate your curiosity and teach you a hell of a lot of new things. It’ll be boring more often than you like, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to show up early and stay late because you care about your team and you don’t want to let them down.
Your first job shouldn’t be your dream job. But it should be putting you on a path, maybe not the path, but a path that will help you get there someday.
So, how do you find that non-dream job?
1. Look for the right culture.
Somebody once told me that until you’re 30, your only job should be to learn. Find a company with a culture that will empower you to do so. A lot of people focus solely on what a company or an organization does when looking for jobs. That’s important, yes, but also think about how they do it.
What does success look like in this culture? You’ll do the set of tasks in your job description, but will you be able to volunteer to take on more projects in this culture? Will you be able to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out” in this culture? Will you be able to take on more responsibilities as you prove yourself in this culture?
2. Be realistic.
As a disclaimer to my previous paragraph, be realistic about what you’re able to learn in a given period of time.
There are lots of jobs that are surely the most awesome of jobs, but that require experience that is probably a stretch for you right now. You’re not going to get hired into that awesome job by going into the interview and expressing a strong desire to learn. Drive can’t make up for a few years of experience, no matter how much you can hustle.
You will, however, get that job by accepting a more entry-level position at the same company, even if it’s not exactly what you want to do. If you’re good and you show that you can push through tasks, you’ll get the opportunity to do something else.
3. Figure out both what you’re good at and what you love.
Assess the things you enjoy doing. Also, assess the things you’re really good at (and bad at). Take a long, hard look at yourself. Then, plan your next step.
You don’t need a career plan, but hopefully, with a year or so of work under your plan, you should have a next step plan – whether it’s a role within your company that you want one day or a fork in the road to a different job at a different company that would be a better fit for what you need now.
Knowing yourself is what’s going to make you successful, so don’t go after what you think you should be doing. Figure out what’s right for you next.
You don’t need to have it all figured out before you can legally rent a car. Finding your dream job is about taking the time to figure out who you are and what you’re good at, and you’ll most likely need to take a job that’s not your dream job out of college to do that. It takes time and patience and persistence to find your dream job. It takes mistakes, mentorship, triumphs, and risks.
I’m not there yet, nor do I want to be. But I do freaking love my current job, something I didn’t expect to when I signed on. So that’s a start.
Michaela Gianotti is Koru's content manager. She attended Whitman College, where she spent the better part of four years convincing her family that English majors can get jobs too. She has since found awesome work (SEE!) at 826 Seattle, msnNOW, and Koru.