Carving Out Your Career Path
August 19, 2016
When you see someone in a position at a company that you consider your dream job, whether it be a startup CEO, a principal at a VC firm or a product manager at a large tech company like Square, you may think to yourself "that person has it all figured out." What you may not know is many people who are happy with their career track have tried many other jobs at the early stages of their career and can really only connect the dots in retrospect. (Despite what you might hear or believe, no one has it all figured out.) There is one commonality these individuals share: When it came to getting the job, they owned their experiences.
Let's look at it through this lens. Think of a career path as being a culmination of:
1) All of the skills you've learned
2) Experiences you've had
3) People you've met along the way
Even though part of you might be worried that you are making missteps, it's important to remind yourself that you are learning so much through each job or internship experience. Think about it in terms of what you've learned from every experience and not whether the exact job or exact path was right for you. Ask yourself: What am I good at? What am I not good at? What do I want to get better at? What do I enjoy?
Whether you have a job that is part-time, full-time, internship or volunteer, reflect and think about what about my day-to-day do I enjoy and want to do more of and what is frustrating and what I want to do less of? If you can keep moving toward the things you enjoy and align that with the things you're good at, you're going end up in a good place, even if it takes more time you'd like.
This career quadrant is a great navigational tool when considering your next career move. If you take the time to reflect and think through these questions, while being honest with yourself, it can help to bring clarity and allow you to better articulate what you want to do.
It doesn't matter if your career has zig-zagged or you've changed fields. What matters is if you can connect the dots, put the pieces together and tell your story. This is who I am, this is what I love to do, these are the skills I bring to the table. Make it clear why you care about the job opportunity. What are you most proud of that makes you most distinctive? Put that front and center on your resume, own your experiences whatever they may be and provide your personal narrative when going after the job you want.