Today I’m excited to bring you this excellent guest-post from Anthony Moore, the founder of StuffGradsLike.com and author of the new book Buyer’s Remorse: The Life You Thought You Wanted in Your 20s. Enjoy!
What’s career calling?
Seems like a cruel joke nowadays, huh?
You might be reading this from your bare-bones cubicle in between entering obscure formulas into data sheets and hoping to get an email about some more work to do, because it’s only 9:13am and you’re already done with the day’s work.
Of course, your college-age self had high hopes for the fulfilling career that degree would get you. You felt you had an articulate, clear calling as you prepared to accept that diploma and smile for the camera with your cap and gown.
Not so much.
Finding your career calling in your 20s has become something that reminds you of trying to solve that twisted-nails puzzle that stumped all your 6th grade friends. No matter how delicately, roughly, quickly, or slowly you pulled and twisted those 2 nails, they wouldn’t come apart.
In your 20s, you think you finally find your career calling, only to realize 3 months into that new job it’s not what you thought it was. So you go back to your usual Netflix-bingeing and waiting for career-inspiration to strike again.
But rest easy, 20-somethings. The decade of your 20s has secret, well-hidden answers to your career calling. Here’s 3, for starters.
- Work in a variety of different careers
The worst thing you can do in your 20s is play it safe. This is especially true of your career.
I have a friend who is unhappy, bored, and unfulfilled in his current job. He works as an office administrator for his dad’s company. He has a lot of aspirations – to work for DC comics, to start a podcast, to be an entrepreneur, to be a sports analyst, etc.
The problem is, he’s not making any progress in any other career goals. He’s just working 9-5, paying the bills with a stable job, even though he doesn’t like it and can’t imagine working there for another 6 months.
Maybe this is you. My advice to you – try that podcast. Consider quitting your job for a new one. Target entirely new industries to work in.
Try new things. Don’t stay in an unfulfilling job for too long. That way, you’ll have gained invaluable career knowledge when it’s time to really choose a career down the road.
- Informational interviews
Step 1: Find people you want to meet who are working in a career you’re interested in (LinkedIn and your college’s alumni database are good places to start).
Step 2: Take them out for coffee/lunch and ask them strategic career questions that give you answers.
I did this tactic over 20 times in my early 20s. I had a ton of questions about a career in writing/marketing/coaching/speaking/whatever. Here is the exact email template I used when I reached out to these professionals:
Hello Mr. ______,
My name is Anthony. I found you through (your college)’s alumni database on LinkedIn. I saw that you’ve worked at ____, ____ and ____. Since I graduated in 2012, I’ve become very passionate about the _____ industry.
I’d love to get your expert opinion on some questions I have about the industry. Could I please take you out to coffee sometime for about 30 minutes and ask you some questions about the _____ industry?
The reason this email had an 80% success rate for response is because professionals love coaching teachable 20-somethings (and they also love to talk about themselves!).
Can’t figure out what to do about your career in your 20s? Ask people who already are where you (might) want to be.
- Buyer’s Remorse strikes everyone – just go with it.
At some point in your 20s, you will experience a sinking feeling of buyer’s remorse; “Is this what a career in ____ is??” you ask yourself disappointingly. “Is this all there is?”
Yes – and no. Our 20s are characterized by changing emotions, interests, passions, and motivations. A career you may have been chasing for years can be a major letdown after working in it for less than a year.
That’s OK. It happens, to all of us. The savvy 20-somethings are the ones that realize this is just how life is in our 20s, and spend time learning all they can about whatever career they’re in at the time so that when our emotions and passions finally begin to solidify…
We have an entire database of knowledge about ourselves and our career aspirations.
Finding your career calling in your 20s is tough. Really tough. It’s always shifting and changing, usually right at the point where you say to yourself, “You know what? I think I finally found my career.”
Try new careers and see what you like – and what you don’t. Ask others who are already working in the field you’re interested in. And most importantly:
Just go with it. Buyer’s remorse might strike, but that just means it’s time to start searching for another piece of the puzzle you’re making in your 20s.
Anthony Moore is the founder of StuffGradsLike.com and author of the new book Buyer’s Remorse: The Life You Thought You Wanted in Your 20s. Follow him for answers and solutions on how to be successful in your 20s. He also likes winning at ping pong and eating too much Dominoes pizza.