Some time between preschool and second grade someone or another probably asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The cliché question isn’t meant to jumpstart kids into a career but rather to give kids the ability to choose who they want to be at a young age. Most answers consist of unrealistic feats like astronaut, fireman or pilot. Once you hit puberty and become a little more cynical about the world, you realize those dreams are, well, just dreams—Thoughts and aspirations that don’t come through fruition.
In the fourth grade my principal called me into her office, and as a certified troublemaker at the time I already earned myself frequent trips to the principal’s office. It happened to be my English teacher showed her some of my writing and they were both very impressed. After praising my ability to write remarkably at such a young age, she asked me: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I vividly recall telling her I wanted to replace her and be principal because she had yet to install chocolate milk drinking fountains. And that there was no candy offered at school. She was clearly not doing her job.
By eighth grade I ditched my dream to be principal. When we were asked, “What is your dream job?” in our yearbooks, everyone’s dream futures became more realistic. Some people said mother, others dentist, lawyers, businessmen. I said ‘Clothing Store Owner’. My mother told me all about this fashion school called FIT and I couldn’t wait to go and fulfill my dream. It seemed like a realistic feat—Business of Fashion. I carried that dream job with me up until the end of my sophomore year of college. I took a fashion retail class and realized how risky it is to open your own small business. I shadowed a men’s buyer and saw how hard it was just to break even. Was I really that passionate about balancing finances, raising capital, and choosing clothing for each season? At the time I totally neglected my other passion, writing, as a realistic career goal. Once I started interning for magazines, I realized how much I love that world and how much my skills were valued. That writing is just as important a skill in fashion as financing and buying.
Even with this newfound knowledge, I still don’t know what my dream job entails. Do I really want to go into the magazine industry? Will that make me happy? Will I feel valued? A fresh out of college old co-worker of mine just announced she got a job working for Vogue. I won’t go into detail about how insane that is, but it’s insane, believe me. While I am so happy for her, I’m also a bit envious. That would be my dream job, I thought. In my previous post I mentioned wanting to be happy instead of striving for the fancy title and impressive company to put on my resume. So I reassessed and asked myself, would working for Vogue really make me happy? Would I feel suffocated by the pressures of that renowned publication? Or would I feel like someone at the pinnacle of their career who finally feels like they made it?
I think your dream job is one that should make you happy. It’s one that should make you feel like ‘you made it.’ (And creating your own definition of 'I made it'.) And something for others to note, myself included, it doesn’t mean you’ll get your dream job right out of college. Your dream job might be far in the distance. But as long as you figure out what you’re passionate about and what you can’t imagine yourself doing, you’re one step in the right direction.