When asked for my advice on choosing a career
When I look back at my career journey so far, I see many paths. Some of them straight, some winding, and some dead-ends. I’ve been successful, I’ve failed miserably and I’ve spent much of the last few years somewhere in between the two, probably on one of those straighter roads.
When I think about my CV, spanning 20 years, I can’t help but feel a little proud for the level of variety I’ve experienced. My salary has never been anything to really shout about, but I have selected bestselling denim jeans for a high street fashion brand, I’ve planned parties for the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, I’ve taught yoga in India, and I‘ve helped a well-known sexual health brand get to number 1 on Google for ‘How to give the best blow job’.
Years ago, I would’ve admitted that I felt a little bit embarrassed about the amount of variety in my career, because certain people make comments about you not knowing what you want to do or flitting from one thing to the next. However, now I actually feel that this was a huge plus for me. I certainly won’t look back and wish I had tried something different - because I probably already have!
It’s no longer the case that we have to choose a career at the age of 21 and stick with it for the next 40 years like many of our parents and grandparents did. And I believe this is a truly great thing about modern day living. We constantly change, adapt, grow - and therefore our needs from a role do too. So when an opportunity arises, I’m not saying accept it without consideration, but have in your mind scope that it’s not forever and you will have the power to change whenever you feel the time is right.
If your role is currently filling you with dread and anxiety instead of fulfilment and passion, then 100% I would say find something else. You can, and you really will! Jobs are not meant to be easy. They require hard graft and commitment, but that feeling of actual dread is never normal and there is almost always a way out if you look hard enough.
I think that your career should be a great match for your personality just as much as for your academic skills.
Looking back, event planning was not a great choice for me as I don’t like being in big groups of people and I also handle stressful situation very badly too! But at the age of 20 I had no idea about this as I was still learning so much about myself and had not really experienced much stress in my life before. My event planning role was particularly stressful with long hours and I worked with a lot of high profile, and often cantankerous, people. I often felt unworthy and belittled by some of them, and I most certainly think it left me traumatised even until this current day. I guess I had a sort of imposter syndrome, although at the time very little was written about this so I just thought it was me being crap in a role I didn’t deserve.
That said, I learnt a lot about myself during those years - the most pressing being that I no longer wanted to work in events ever again! I also met Colin Firth and Mick Jagger so, I mean, two life goals ticked off right there!
But to answer the initial question in summary I would advise to assess where you are right now. What are the things you are good at right now? What type of people do you want to work with? What environment do you want to work in? What does an ideal day look like for you? And, you know what, some jobs might not tick all of your boxes straight away, but often there are ways of manipulating a role into a more suitable one once you have proved yourself as a committed employee. So don’t strive for that perfection straight away. Learn something new about yourself every day and never be afraid of change or diversity - they are the superfoods of life in my view!