It was a scorching, unbearably humid day and a long four hour car ride with my parents from Philadelphia to Newport News, Virginia with a cramped car full of my young adult life. I was moving back home after my five year run at Temple U and ready to start traveling for an interview in New York City the following week. Somewhere between Baltimore and D.C., at a rest stop that looked like a scene from The Hills Have Eyes, my phone buzzed with an email from the tech company I was interviewing with. My heart was jumping inside- my face glowed as bright as the screen on my rhinestone cased phone. A few days before, I was emailing back and forth with the administrative assistant to set aside some time to discuss travel arrangements and my hotel stay. All I could think about was killing this interview and dreaming about being able to move up to The Big Apple, living life like a yuppie version of Carrie Bradshaw.
When I opened the email, I felt like someone shot me with a 12 gauge and left my body to fester on a deserted highway- the company decided at the last minute to offer the position to an internal candidate and cancel everything.
At the time, my whole idea of post collegiate success was landing a career in my field and climb up the company ladder for 40 years or so until retirement. Plan B? Please, I didn’t have a plan A.1! At the time, I did not really know what I was good at… my talents or what my passion was in life. I was $100,000 in debt and the dream was to work in the dog-eat-dog world of Corporate America, survive and have a little extra to get myself something nice every once in a while. There were no other options in my newly graduated 23 year old mind. Plan A HAD to work… because, it was all I had.
The current working world is a “gig” economy. Having a side hustle is becoming a must more than ever. It is surprising that the word “career” is still even in existence, especially for Gen Y. The working world and economy is not how it was back when the Baby Boomers or even Gen X entered the work force. The realm of working for a company until you reach retirement is slowly spiraling into extinction. Hell, most of us will probably go through several different employers and career paths within that time frame. Let’s face it, having a B.A. is becoming BS and not as valued as it was a couple of generations before us. You have to have more to your persona than your intricately framed $100,000 receipt hanging on the wall and a polished resume, because millions among millions of fresh faced degree holding young professionals have the same.
If you are one of the lucky ones to land your dream job, the rug can be pulled from under you at any moment. You have to have your game plan, even when you are on top of your game. What is your next move? What skills do you have? What are your passions? These are things you have to ask yourself and think deeply about in case things don’t work out. You have to have more than just a Plan B.
1. Networking and Maintaining Your Network
Building your network is key when it comes to staying competitive and setting yourself up with a backup plan or three. Networking shouldn’t stop when you land a job. Joining professional associations, attending company events and career fairs are ways to meet new people who are knowledgeable in the industry. Whether you believe it or not, your friends and coworkers are a vast network of individuals. Stay in touch and in the loop on events, you never know, the next get together you may attend may be the launch of a budding career.
2. Having A Hobby
If you are having a hard time landing your “Plan A” job, doing something that you love and enjoy is a route to go. You may think that your weekend obsession of scrap booking or making jewelry might be just a hobby, but hobbies can be platforms to start your own business. You are highly knowledgeable and skilled at your craft – the love that you have for a hobby naturally pushes you to become an expert and innovative. As they say- you don’t work a day doing what you love.
3. Being Open To Opportunities
Never say what you wouldn’t do, especially when you are in a position where you need experience to get your foot in the door. You have to look at the bigger picture. Do not discredit jobs that you may consider “small”. Throughout high school and college I worked in food service as a busser, waitress, bartender and even a line cook. These jobs taught me strong communication and customer service skills, advertising, attention to detail and problem solving. The job may not be glamorous, but it is about making the most out of the opportunities that you have to reach your goals.
4. Finding Your Passion
For some, finding a passion in life may be something that is already in front of them. For others, like me, finding a passion may take time and a little soul searching. I was turning 24 when I discovered my passion. I would work during the day and film makeup videos in my aunt and uncle’s fluorescent lit bathroom late at night. After continuously making videos, I realized that my passion was creating. I joined several online beauty communities, made a website while constantly reading and learning about editing and filming. Finding your passion expands your horizons and network.
Always make your next move your best move and play smart when moving along in your career. Remember, the path in life is not always linear, it is the curves and contours in the path that shapes us, but it is always good when you have paths B-Z to keep things moving towards A.