Small opportunities are stepping stones to your dream job. Think of your career as a road trip – the one with bumps along the way, heavy traffic, detours, missed signs and directions, and maybe even the one where you end up in a totally different place than intended.
Sometimes it can be easy to think that the journey to your dream job will be smooth and seamless – with milestones that directly relate to the end destination, but what happens when it doesn’t go that way?
You have to remember that your career isn’t only made up of the big milestones like getting your dream job, working at your dream company, or getting the big promotion – it’s also all of the smaller experiences and lessons that get you there.
As Style Nine to Five’s Founder, Christie Lohr, says, “You know that dream job you want? You’ll get it, but don’t forget all the little jobs in between. What you might not see is that you might not be ready YET. So what feels like little roadblocks are just little detours, for now.” She couldn’t be more accurate!
With that in mind, here are a few things you can do as you work towards your career and life goals.
Write Down Your Dreams
First, it’s important to write down and think about what your dream job is (or at least an idea of the direction you are headed.) A Huffington Post article found that when you actually write down your dreams, you are 42% more likely to reach them.
One goal setting exercise that is discussed in the article is the success experiment – for seven days you write down your goals/dreams in four areas including your career, relationships, health, & time/money freedom. In doing so, the things you want and that matter most in your life and career will become clearer and you’ll be motivated to work hard to get there. It will also help you to contextualize and be more aware of the opportunities that come your way and the impact they might have on your goals.
It’s worth noting that not all opportunities are worth exploring but if you know the dream, and you can see objectively how each opportunity can you get there, take it!
Be Open to Opportunities
It’s also important to keep yourself open to opportunities that come across your path – keep your ears open and your eyes peeled. They come up in many different places and can come from unexpected sources sometimes. For example, your mom’s friend might post on Facebook she is looking for someone to take family photos, and you’re looking to grow your portfolio/develop photography skills. This may seem like a small gig, but it’s a great way to work on directing poses, styling, photography skills, editing, and your communication skills. Being able to work well with clients doesn’t happen overnight and this would be a great way to build that skill.
Where to Look for Opportunities (Or How to Create Them!)
1. Social Media – Keep an eye out for posts that are looking for specific talent, are asking questions that you can answer, or people who are looking for help in an area you know something about. When you see potential opportunities, an email to let them know you’re interested. Be sure to introduce yourself, your background, and why/how you are qualified. It’s one hundred percent acceptable to let them know you’re starting out or looking to gain more experience, but don’t sell yourself short!
2. Volunteering – Look for volunteer opportunities that might help you develop skills that managers are looking for, or can help you improve your existing skills. For example, there are a lot of organizations looking for volunteer graphic designers. Taking on a role like this can help you develop that skill set and gain experience while not necessarily having the pressure of a paid role.
3. Put Yourself Out There – Start by making a post on LinkedIn, in Facebook groups, or on Instagram letting others know that you’re looking to get more experience in a certain area and you never know where that might lead you!
Be careful not to disregard opportunities that seem too small, too trivial, or not worth your time. Just because they’re at a company that no one has heard of, it’s a project that may not get a lot of exposure, or it won’t give you a connection that you’re looking for, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. For example, volunteering at a local fashion show for charity may not be your big break into fashion, but it will certainly give you experience.
Be grateful for opportunities that you do get to experience and be a part of. Not everyone gets the same opportunities in life and everyone’s path looks different. Being grateful for the smallest of opportunities goes a long way in terms of how people view your work ethic and determination.
As a real life example, I have always been someone who feels like other people get all of the opportunities (I’m sure you may have felt the way too). But, I always make a point to have a heart of gratitude for any opportunity I have, because I know it’s an opportunity someone else might not get.
Always Remember the Dream
For each opportunity that comes your way, think about your dream career and think about how this opportunity may help get you there.
Every day there are opportunities that may seem small compared to your big dream, but these are necessary stepping stones to get you where you want to go. They may not even seem relevant, and you may ask yourself why you should even bother if it doesn’t directly relate to the dream you have in mind.
Remember it that doesn’t mean they’re not important, relevant, or beneficial. They may not always be glamorous, come with high praise, or even much recognition. It’s up to you to keep your eye on your goals, use these opportunities to your advantage, and remember why they’re so important. In some ways, these opportunities may even lead to new goals, dreams, and create new interests.
There are a lot of benefits to embracing a variety of opportunities: they can develop your skills, give you more exposure or insight into a certain industry/type of work, diversify your network and interests, and even potentially give you a new sense of purpose or direction in life. There is always something to be taken from every opportunity.
My Personal Experience (Writer, Jenna’s)
One of the opportunities I’ve had was writing for a small, local newspaper. On Instagram, I noticed they were looking for freelance writers, and I reached out – it wasn’t a huge opportunity, but it allowed me to interview the owner of a local restaurant. I noticed they were opening a new location, and I pitched that idea to the editor who allowed me to run with it. This experience got me out of my comfort zone as it was my first time interviewing someone for a piece, helped me develop writing skills, and made me realize I really enjoyed the whole process.
While the road to your dream job may seem long when it isn’t linear, it will be worth it and you will get there! Enjoy the moments in between, learn as much as you can from the opportunities you get and from the people you meet, and remember that everything you do matters.
Looking for more support for getting your dream job? Book the Get it ALL package with Christie. This service will help you gain clarity on your next steps, help you with interview prep, and get your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile into shape to help you achieve your career goals.
By Jenna Yeomans – Jenna is a marketing grad based in Hamilton, ON with a passion for storytelling, creativity and supporting small businesses.