If I can offer you one piece of advice it is this: Don’t settle for something that doesn’t make you happy.
A career is a lifetime investment. You wouldn’t go into a car dealership and buy the first car you were offered, nor would you accept a marriage proposal from a mediocre stranger, just because they’ve asked you. Choosing a career is no different – it’s a decision that’ll be with you for years to come, so take your time and choose carefully.
When I graduated with an MA from Edinburgh during the depths of the global recession, I had to forgo dreams of landing a grad-scheme job in a multinational corporation with years of stability ahead of me. At the same time, I couldn’t bear the thought of being a dogsbody in a dead-end job, working just to make ends meet. Instead I decided to ride out the recession, committing myself to a year of gaining experience and invariably working for free. I moved in with Grannie, ditched the gym membership, and signed up for jobseekers allowance knowing (hoping, praying) that in a years time I would have found the job of my dreams and it would all be worth it.
3 months into my graduate year, and one internship down, I came across the WEXO site, and more importantly came across an internship posting at LeapAnywhere.com. It was one of the only sites that listed jobs for skilled, savvy and interesting grads, with not a ‘sales clerk’ or ‘admin assistant’ role in site. Phew!
(This is now the section where i have to sum up my job and company; an incredibly hard task at the best of times, not least when I’m sitting at my desk, smiling at my boss, and already 100 words over the word limit.)
I rocked up to interview for the role of Charities Associate and felt immediately at home in an office-come-playroom, scattered with Macs, beanbags, park benches and laughter. In a somewhat overly friendly mood, I sat discussing philanthropy, politics and above all giggling with my interviewer for well over 2 hours. When asked if I had any questions I responded with “Do you like marmite?’ “Can you juggle” and “Would you rather have 6ft long arms or knees the size of footballs?”. I had a call the next morning offering me an intern role to start ASAP.
9 months later, I am the full time Head of Charities and Partnerships in an exciting, dynamic and familial internet start-up. I’m the happiest I could imagine, working in a company that begins the week with an ‘Inspiration Session’ and ends with week with ‘Beer-o-Clock’; combines my passions of charitable engagement with creative technological innovation, and offers me responsibilities well beyond my experience (but not beyond my aptitude). I have 400+ Charity partners on my books, and already feel like I’m making waves in an industry I’m professionally and emotionally committed to.
The moral of the story is this:
- Be honest with yourself and your employer. (Offering my personality in interview paid dividends and meant that I was employed as a person not just a skill set).
- Find something that makes you happy – don’t ‘settle’ for the first job you come across because you feel you have to.
- Instead, get the experience you need.
- Don’t rush your decision, you will find something that ticks all the boxes!