The idea of a job has turned from something I dread into something I’m excited about – and not just because I spent months unemployed recently. I think it is because it turned from something I have to do, into something I can’t wait to do. I didn’t know of any jobs before that I wanted, and the word ‘career’ made me shudder. Such strict and unforgiving imagery. Now I know that both of the following are true: a) There are jobs that I want. They exist. & b) If I can’t find one that fits the bill, I can make it happen (provided there is a market for it, of course.) [Huge shout out to the StartingBloc family for making me realize the truth of statement b.]
Both of these realizations have come as a result of finding a passion. Really what it felt like was discovering my passion – it was there all along, I just didn’t know what to call it, or how to engage with it. I’ve always had ‘passion’ for alleviating inequality, understanding power dynamics, learning about the human experience, and addressing issues at their root causes. (Mix that with a healthy distrust of institutions and the status quo, and you had one wandering, wondering young woman.)
The story of how I got from there to here isn’t the point. The point is that here is where its at – enriching, fulfilling, challenging. I look around and I see friends going through similar awakenings, and that is (almost) equally rewarding. I know that I, and they, have a long way to go – that really I’m just at the beginning of this awakening and a long journey of learning, but now I’m more exited for it to continue.
The point is also that it took a lot of work – lots of digging and lots of discomfort – to get here. Again, I thought I would share some of my learnings along the way.
1) The internet is a beautiful tool.
Learning about impact investing is the reason I started getting into twitter. Before I wanted to learn something about a specific industry without lots of infrastructure, I failed to see the applicability to my life. If you’re into these types of industry, check out who I follow. This is a great way to learn about the conversation & even insert yourself into it (I got pretty excited the fist time Cathy Clark retweeted me!). You can also learn about job openings specific to your industry (like @greenjobs).
Google until your eyes hurt. Until you find niche things like StartingBloc, or unusual fellowships, or experiences, or camps, or opportunities, or gatherings. Contact bloggers who have done cool shit.
2) Networking tips I’ve picked up along the way:
- You have to do it. It will be miserable lots of the time, even if you’re excited about the subject matter. Deal with it. Make yourself uncomfortable. That’s what growing feels like.
- Don’t know where to network? Sign up for conferences, or skillshare classes you think are cool and talk to the other attendees. Write cold emails asking for a coffee date with people at any level of an organization. The first one was awkward? Keep it up. That’s what learning feels like.
- Introduce yourself by saying what you WANT to do. That’s how you’ll meet the people who can help you get there & leads to positive responses; people like helping people.
- Alternatively, learn about why people do what they do, not what they do.
- My favorite icebreaker question: origin of someone’s name. (It works better than you might think!)
- Do you have networking tips? I’m always looking for more.
3) Getting excited about something besides what you’re doing? Volunteer in the industry you want to work in. Internships & fellowships are how most people I know get jobs. Volunteer or intern until you can write yourself into a grant. A source for good fellowships here. Be sure to put your volunteer work on your resume.
4) Get out of your comfort zone. Shake things up. Not sure what conversation you’re looking to become a part of? Keep exploring.
Finally, I love love love the tagline for a growing & timely organization called ReWork, started by some inspiring lads (some of whom I know from aforementioned StartingBloc family). Its simple: Don’t Settle.
And to take it a step further, Skillshare: the future belongs to the curious.
Oh, and the title isn’t completely random – it is, in fact, quite apt in light of the following: All means prove but a blunt instrument, if they have not behind them a living spirit. – Albert Einstein
Yup, think about that (another shout out to any entrepreneur friends, what living spirits they be).