One of the most frustrating challenges in my life has been figuring out where I fit into the professional world.
I left college hoping to make a mark as a reporter, and was fortunate enough to leave that career path for a position in professional services before newspapers caved in.1 Professional services seemed a good fit — until it didn’t. I then returned to school to earn two master’s degrees2, seeking out easy writing jobs that would allow me to focus on my studies. Now I find myself trapped in low-level writing roles that don’t take advantage of my talent or educational qualifications.
The way I see it, prospective employers only care about what I’ve done, which is to deliver content.3 They don’t care about what I can do, especially with hard skills developed in graduate school and soft skills honed over decades in the workforce.
Tl;dr: I want to live up to my potential, but my past has pigeonholed me.
As you might expect, I’m frustrated. I’m struggling with how to proceed in my career. Job rejections — even for positions that only represent an incremental step forward — are demoralizing. Career development workshops are generic and haven’t proven useful. Networking is difficult in a pandemic.
My thinking now is that I need to completely reboot my career. I’ve found myself on a narrow path, and continuing the journey on it no longer appeals to me. I want to find a new route forward, one that aligns with my character and allows me to make valuable contributions.
This won’t be easy. Even though I don’t think I’ve traveled very far professionally, doing something completely new means I’ll throw away the professional capital I’ve accumulated. It means starting at Square One. I think that’s a step I need to take.
I’ll be writing more about this in the coming days and weeks. Writing forces me to organize my thoughts, and publishing it makes me accountable for my words.
1 There was no advertising revenue to prop them up.
2 An MBA and a master’s in marketing.
3 I’m generally a modest person, but I don’t mind claiming that writing is something I do exceptionally well. But that doesn’t mean I want my professional life to be defined by it anymore.