Like many of the peers you graduated with from college, you probably spent a lot of time searching for the “dream job.” You know, the job that’s directly related to your major, the job you spent four or maybe more years of your life studying, the job that will make your resume sparkle.
But what happens if you spend months looking for something in your field and there simply isn’t anything related to what you want to do? Or, what if you do get that dream job and it turns out to be something you simply cannot see yourself pursuing for the rest of your life?
Sure you might have other interests that you would love to make a career out of in these cases, but how do you leverage these interests into getting what you want? It will take a combination of several different strategic moves, much like a game of chess. And it will require a lot of time and effort, especially if you are already employed. But as the saying goes- nothing worth having comes easy.
Step 1- Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s say for example you graduated with a degree in advertising, but you’ve discovered that you’re far more interested in the non-profit world. You probably have some skills that you’ve learned that can translate to your new potential profession, but there will be skills you’ll need to acquire and perfect. Take some time to identify what you already have to offer and can highlight on your resume and what this new career will require of you.
Step 2- Create your own opportunities.
This may be the hardest part to accomplish, especially if you’re already employed and don’t have the luxury to quit your current job. But if you’ve identified the skills that you need to build, and you have a genuine passion in your new pursuits, then it may just take some outside the box thinking in order to accomplish a few projects that will bulk up your resume and portfolio. Perhaps you start keeping a blog where you discuss the industry you want to enter. If we use the non-profit example from step one, maybe a project you can create involves documenting your experiences from volunteer opportunities you take. Also, if you do your research, you’ll most likely find some organizations that will allow you to freelance on some small projects. Even if an opportunity is unpaid and takes up some of your free time, it may be just the thing you need to get your foot in the door.
Step 3- Build your network.
No matter what industry you are in, you will need to be connected to those in the know. Start reaching out to companies you would want to work for, and offer to take a few people you’d like to learn from out for coffee. Think of this as a chance to be mentored. Be humble and don’t ask for anything more than information. People will notice your passion and might keep you in mind when future positions open up.
It may take quite some time before you can fully switch into a new field. But with persistence, dedication, and a lot of creative thinking, it is possible to pursue an interest that you don’t have a degree in.