“Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s the thing about quotes; they distill everything down to its simplest form. Of course, if you find your dream job (the job that you don’t need an alarm on your iPhone to wake up for), then work will never feel like work. But what this quote fails to describe is what it takes to even understand the kind of job you like, much less love. Finding your dream job isn’t as straightforward as following your passion. Yes, knowing what you’re passionate about is a great start, but how that passion translates into tasks you actually do at a job is an entirely different thing. For example, you might love to write. You’ve been doodling notes in scrapbooks since you were old enough to form funny-sounding words. You know you want to make money writing, but what does that mean? Do you want to be a copywriter, which is essentially a position that requires you to know how to create persuasive copy that will convince someone to try a service or buy something? Do you want to work in communications, which is responsible for the internal and external copy of organizations? Or maybe you’d prefer to be a blogger or an author or a ghostwriter? Get the point? There are so many options within your interests!
There are a number of ways to go about exploring your passions. Some are more hands-on than others, but each of the following examples will help get you closer to understanding how your talents and interests can be transformed into a career.
This is probably the most hands-on way to figure out if the job lines up with your interests. Volunteering puts you on the ground and gives you front line experience with the tasks you’re assigned. Here’s a pro tip: If you’re volunteering at a large organization, they likely have multiple departments. Ask if you can volunteer a small part of your time in departments outside of the one you were hired for. For example, if you’re volunteering in the marketing department, ask if you can try communications or to be part of the content team. Not only does it give you the exposure you need to decide if you like any of those jobs, but it also helps broaden your skill set.
This option may not provide the exact tasks of a specific job, but what online learning does is get you familiar with the skills you need to do that job well. Maybe you’re an animator but want to get into graphic design. Taking online graphic design classes exposes you to what you’ll need to learn to become skilled enough at designing to be employable. There’s obviously a time and possibly a monetary commitment, but platforms like MasterClass, SkillShare, Udemy, Study.com and more give you plenty of options.
We’re living in the information age where everything you need is a click away. Take advantage of that. Do the research on what jobs align with your passion and what the tasks of each of those jobs entail. Don’t limit your research to online sources, though. Speak to people who are working in the industries you’re interested in. Tap your network by setting up a coffee chat for some insight or connect with your mentor and ask questions about their experience. Sign in to your Prepped account if you need help approaching a mentor, take advantage of our networking email templates. This isn’t a hands-on approach, so you’ll need to make sure you’re thorough in your research and provide yourself with a clear picture of what that job demands.
There’s nothing stopping you from trying to do the job yourself. You’ll have to pair this step with a bit of research, but once you find out the tasks involved, why not get started. If you’re a designer or writer or some other service provider, you’ll have to find clients. Start with friends and family and your immediate network. That will give you some confidence and provide useful insight on if you enjoy what you’re doing and if you’re capable of delivering at a high level. As you become more serious and extend beyond your network, you might consider creating a sole proprietorship.
This is a good option for if your dream job is connected to a dream company. For example, if your dream job is working as a senior marketer at RBC Ventures, try applying as an intern in the communication department. You may not be exactly where you planned, but you’re in the building, and that’s the most important part. Once you’re inside, start making the right connections. Make sure you’re always staying on top of the job you were hired to do but set up some coffee chats with colleagues from the marketing department to find out what it would take to work with them.
There are many steps to career building, and those steps start before your career does. Knowing what you’re passionate about then finding ways to align that passion with a position takes some exploration. Learn how to define your career goals with our Career Vision Generator. This tool helps you create a vision statement that allows you to define your career goals. You select words that mean the most to you, and our generator will create a vision statement that you can use either for yourself, or on your professional network profile.Sign up for Prepped to gain access to the Career Visions Generator, plus other tools and templates that can help improve your chances of getting a job by up to 6X*.
*Songqi Liu, Jason L. Huang, & Mo Wang (2014). Effectiveness of Job Search Interventions: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1009-1041.