Real talk: The most lost I’ve ever felt was when, after walking cautiously down the stairs and sitting in my folding chair during my college graduation ceremony, I came to a sudden, dizzying realization: that though I held a rather expensive piece of paper in my hand, I still needed to wash my apron and black pants since my brunch shift started early the next morning.
Is it just me or do people always talk about college degrees like they’re that magical missing puzzle piece that you put into your early 20-something life in order to be able to make it to the next level? Turns out, they’re not. After working my café shifts for another year post-undergrad studies, I decided to go to grad school to see if that piece of paper is what it actually took to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
Turns out it was, or at least it was for me. I pursued a Masters of Library Science and the internship that I completed during the last year of my studies led straight to a higher paying job with real benefits–so you can readily recall the last time you went to the dentist, and buy LUSH cosmetics without worrying that you had just spent your rent money. Even better yet, within a year of working with this company I was able to make my way up to a marketing manager position, making enough money to enable my grocery shopping addiction.
But that was then; and if I hand you a business card now, you’ll see “Vegan Cuts Creative Marketing Director” under my name and email address. So how did I go from librarian to vegan marketing professional, you may ask? By leaning in, of course.
Google “Sheryl Sandberg” and you’ll find all of the inspiration you possibly need to just go for it. You’ll also find quite a bit of controversy surrounding if this author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Live and Chief Operating Officer at Facebook really has a right to give the average career woman advice on how to make it to the top.
Perhaps she does have a bit more of a leg up than single women on the opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum, but there are quite a few jewels in her book if you think about how they relate to your career. For instance, Sandberg details how women are less likely to put their name in the ring for a job for which they feel less than qualified, while men will go for jobs even if their experience doesn’t qualify them on paper. Sandberg says, “Women need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that — and I’ll learn by doing it.’”
Sandberg has the quantitative data to back up this suggestion but you can read her book if you’re looking for that sort of thing. You came to a blog so it’s a personal anecdote that you’ll get.
I went vegan just about a year ago but have always known that my career would lead me in a direction that ended up supporting animal rights. When I saw the job posting for an ad sales manager with Vegan Cuts, an online curated marketplace, I knew that there may be more qualified vegan professionals reading the same description, but I decided to just go for it. After all, it was a dream job description so I just let the recruiter be the judge of whether I was the ideal candidate.
Not only was I a good fit for that position, but I also was able to work my way from a very part-time position to a full-time Creative Marketing Director in just a few months. All it required was jumping off the self doubt train and focusing more on what I’m passionate about than on what my resume says. If I would have done a step-by-step comparison of my past career experience on paper with the job prompt, I would have missed the opportunity to find my dream job. The only person who I would have to blame is myself.
So, what about you? When was the last time you went the route of “I want this and I am smart enough to figure out how to do it” rather than “I want this but I’m not what they want”?
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Photo: Brandon King via Flickr