I Learned To Leave My Comfort Zone And Find A Better Career
If you want to find the career that's best for you, sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind. Here's how I did it.
After nine months spent writing grants for a small nonprofit, I knew I was ready to move on to another job, but I had no idea where to go next. I only knew that I didn’t want to write grant applications anymore.
I’m not alone. Ninety-one percent of millennials will stay in the same job for less than three years. We’re called “job hoppers” or “job jumpers.”
Some employers might feel that we don’t have the drive that our parents and grandparents had; but I’ve experienced enough instances in which an employer had no loyalty towards me that I’ve got to wonder… Why should I be so eager to stay in a job that I don’t love?
Now that I wanted a change, what should I do next? My background is in nonprofits. I have a graduate degree and over five years of experience in nonprofits. But I couldn’t bring myself to get another job in that field. Call it being burnt out or just ready for a change, I was stuck with nowhere to go.
I figured I needed to do more research on possible career options. Luckily, my alma mater provides free access to a career counselor at any stage of my life. Score! So I called up my college and spent 45 minutes talking to a counselor about options. The best advice I got?
Research what you think you might want to do before you actually try to get a job in that field.
I narrowed my interests to academic advising, human resources, and writing (blogging, social media, etc). The fewer options I had, the easier it would be to figure out where to go.
I began to talk to my friends and family about these options. I downloaded a college course on human resources, and my friend offered to connect me with an academic advisor for an informational interview at the university where she worked across the country.
When my partner and I decided to move to Atlanta, I gave my notice but stayed with the organization for an extra month on a part-time basis to help with the transition. I knew I didn’t have to, but I didn’t want to end the relationship badly.
At the same time, I’d been applying for jobs without getting called for interviews, and a few part-time opportunities landed in my lap. I began doing social media and blogging, and I picked up a few tutoring and teaching jobs.
While writing was one of my job exploration options, I didn’t know if I would be able to do it. I read all I could about freelance writing, and I connected with two women who were also freelancing. One has been doing marketing for Jewish nonprofits in the Atlanta area for over six years. Meanwhile, the other woman, who’s closer to my age, turned to freelancing last year.
Hearing their personal stories in starting their own freelance careers was both empowering and encouraging.
Now I’ve stopped looking for a full-time job and decided to focus on my writing because I feel confident I can succeed if I put forth a good effort.
I’m willing to try something new and get out of my comfort zone. If I hadn’t spoken with the career counselor, and if I hadn’t reached out to new connections through my network, I don’t know what I would have done.
Perhaps millennials are less likely to stay in a job for longer than three years, but I believe we are also more likely to engage in work that we find interesting, exciting, and challenging. I don’t know how long I would want to be my own boss. This is the first time since I’ve begun working that I will be with the same “employer” for longer than a year. That’s a good start, isn’t it?