My excitement erupted like a pack of Mentos splashing into a river of Diet Coke.
I found Dave sequestered in the lobby of a student conference, using the sign-in table as an impromptu desk. Attending the conference as staff, we were squeezing in work between workshops, sessions, and socialization.
Dave mentioned his most recent project, video scripts to showcase our products, and I was immediately intrigued. I had dreams of building a writing career, so any conversation surrounding the topic often reignited my zeal.
Unfortunately, Dave wasn’t as excited.
I sincerely wished him the best of luck as I claimed a quiet corner for my own impromptu office. As an Admissions Representative, I had calls to make and emails to answer.
Not five minutes later, I saw Dave coming my way.
“Would you like to write these scripts?” He asked. “It would really help me out.”
My heart leapt into my throat. After all the time I had spent learning, practicing, and perfecting my craft, here was my opportunity to shine, handed to me on a silver laptop.
One draft and two revisions later, I was invited to write three more scripts; this time for the marketing department. Before I knew it, I was helping out with minor editing jobs on top of my normal duties as an Admissions Rep.
After 2 months of squeezing two jobs into one 40-hour work week, I was able to transfer into a full-time position position as a writer.
My dream career was finally beginning.
Before what turned out to be a life-changing chat with Dave, I didn’t know what future was waiting for me or when it would come. I felt like I was in a waiting room.
But that wasn’t a bad thing.
Do you remember how awesome waiting rooms were as a kid? There was a never ending supply of exciting activities: toys, puzzles, and magazines. (Highlights, anyone?)
But then we grew up and waiting rooms became something to be dreaded and gotten through as quickly as possible.
When did waiting become a passive activity? What if waiting rooms were still the embodiment of freedom, fun, and endless possibilities? A place to use your imagination, to experiment, and to build your chops before your name is called for the next opportunity?
Do you want to be ready to take your shot when it comes? Take a lesson from your inner child and get lost in these 4 activities while you wait.
What if that initial conversation had gone more like this:
Dave: “I’m working on video scripts to showcase our products.”
Me: “Wow! That’s something I’ve always wanted to do! But instead of working on my craft, I’m working through Friends for the fifth time. Isn’t Netflix autoplay brilliant?”
If you want to take advantage of future opportunities, you need to hone your skills now. Whether it’s directly related to what you want to do or not, there’s always something new to learn. Take initiative and find new ways to expand your skill base.
I was only at that conference because of my job.
Was it my dream career? Not even close! Every day I was challenged to do something that doesn’t come naturally to me: talk to strangers on the phone.
Did I give that position my all anyway? You bet.
Like the imperfect first draft of an essay, your first job (or jobs) may not be particularly exciting. But you keep working hard, because—like that essay—transforming the wrong job into the right one is always easier than jumping into your perfect career at the start.
Opportunities aren’t scarce. Check out LinkedIn. They’re everywhere! But if that’s true, why do good opportunities seem so hard to find?
Because no one knows who you are.
As much as it sucks, the old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who” is surprisingly on the nose.
My very first job was at a Chick-fil-A in Texas where my sister (who already worked there) put in a good word for me. When my family moved to Florida unexpectedly, I needed a new job. Guess who hired me? Another Chick-fil-A.
When I applied for the Admissions Representative role at Accelerated Pathways, being a student in the program (and also knowing an employee) gave me a connection that set me apart from other applicants.
Don’t underestimate the people who are willing to stick their neck out for you. Invest well, and they’ll pave the way when your time comes. (Of course, this doesn’t mean you can stop working on your skills! Your connections can get you an interview, but your skills get you the job.)
“What if I’m not ready?”
I didn’t think I was ready to become a “real writer” when the chance came. Handing my work to an editor for the first time was like buckling up for my driver’s test, just praying I would remember how to parallel park.
No, I didn’t do it perfectly. It took another two revisions before my original draft was brought up to snuff. But I did it.
You might not land gently (or even on your feet), but if you’re serious about changing your situation—be it landing your dream job or tackling another opportunity—you have to jump when the opportunity comes.
Are you “stuck” in a waiting room? Good! This is your personal training ground. Use it. Build a skill, work a job, network...
...And get ready to jump.
A former student counselor and Accelerated Pathways student, Abigail is now a writer and Accelerated Pathways Content Manger who's passionate about empowering others to achieve their goals. When she’s not hard at work, you can find her reading, baking cupcakes, or singing Broadway songs. Loudly.