If you are anything like me, you might have changed your major a few times in college because you didn’t know your “passion” or exactly what you’re good at. For starters, I entered in as a literary journalism major, switched to undecided/undeclared to buy some time, dabbled in computer science and marketing, and finally landed on economics. The reason why is because I liked different aspects of each major. I liked the writing aspect of journalism, digital aspect of computer science, and creative aspect of marketing. Needless to say, I gained a lot of random skills that I really love having.
Now for a long time, I thought it was a bad thing to have a wide variety of skills. Going into a finance job, for example, you are almost expected to become a subject matter expert in your industry. But only in the last 3-4 years, more and more workplaces are starting to see the benefit a wide range of skills brings to their company. Good hiring managers know that not everyone is specialized in one skill anymore. You may be a hedge fund accountant during the day but run your own calligraphy business at night. You may be a marketing analytics expert during the day but a music producer at night. The permutations are infinite.
For instance, on top of the Culture work I do here at Workhap, I also dabble in branding, marketing, and web design. Graphic design is something I always had an interest in, and I’m always looking for ways to hone in on those creative skills that I otherwise don’t primarily use at my main job. I personally wouldn’t do this as my 9-5 (due to designer fatigue), but I like having the option to do it if inspiration suddenly strikes. I would say, too, that it is in Workhap’s best interest that I have some knowledge in these areas as part of long-term strategy growth.
So if you maybe deal with the struggle between choosing a “stable” job over a “creative/passion” job, here are my top 3 tips to help you find a fulfilling career path:
Do some self reflection
Part of figuring out what it is I liked in a job took some serious digging through my values, experiences, and goals. I basically took all my past resumes and wrote down the following for each of my jobs/experiences: what I did, who I worked with, what my results were, what I learned, what I liked, what I disliked. Now if you racked up as many roles as I did (from volunteering to my minimum wage job at a frozen yogurt shop), this is a tedious exercise, but hear me out here – the key idea is to come up with themes for yourself. For me, I discovered my themes were 1) doing something that helps people, 2) wearing multiple hats, and 3) seeing the impact of my work. This allowed me to really hone in on roles that I felt matched what I was looking for.
Another exercise you can do is taking personality quizzes, such as the Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram, StrengthsFinders, and more. Though, proceed with caution: of course, you don’t want to let these results prevent you from achieving your full potential just because some standardized assessment told you that you were meant to work in XYZ industry. But for me, I found these personality tests helpful because they at least gave me a benchmark on what vocabulary I could use to express the value I could bring to employers (and if you were curious, I’m an ENFJ – The Protagonist). Also, seeing what public figures have the same personality type as you can be inspiring!
The beauty of being open to different skills is being able to slowly add to your repertoire of skills. Going into all of my jobs, I didn’t have a single clue where to start, but I learned so much along the way just by being willing to learn. I wouldn’t have gotten great at Excel if I didn’t try learning it for my audit job. I wouldn’t have gotten great at Word if I didn’t try formatting syllabi at my college front desk job. I wouldn’t have known about designer fatigue if I didn’t try pumping out monthly newsletters for my employee resource groups (content creation is hard y’all). And now, I use all of these skills EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Don’t discount what you can learn from your job, even if you don’t totally love it. At the end of the day, recognizing what you’ve learned will allow you to get one step closer to finding a fitting career.
Say no to people who try to box you in
This one is the most challenging of all my tips, but well worth it if you’ve done the work described above. Shortly after I left my job in audit, I did everything from tips 1 and 2 and started to put that work into crafting the story on my resume. I was interviewing for HR roles so that I could talk about my work in organizational management and change, but I kept getting type-casted as a CPA and kept being redirected to roles like payroll accountant or operations analyst. And those are great roles that probably had great pay attached to them, but I knew what my expertise was really worth and had to say no to those offers.
I’m not going to lie – it can be a long process to pivot careers without getting another degree or certification. But it IS possible. I learned that if I was patient, the right offer would come my way because someone would see my value. And lo and behold – it did, and now I get paid to use my wide range of skills to do something I actually enjoy. So when you do realize what it is you want to do (or have an idea of the realm it falls into), stick to your guns and say no to the people who can’t see your vision.
I hope these tips help you alleviate some of the stress that comes with having a huge range of interests. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to tie yourself down to one passion. You can love spreadsheets and fashion, finance and art – whatever it is, the team at Workhap will be here to help you figure out what it is that will give you a happier work life.