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You know the moment in a relationship, friendship or even Netflix series, when you come to the realization that it’s not meant to be anymore? Maybe it’s something that they did, or that you simply realized that you wanted something different or more. The same thing happened to me this year in my dream job.
If you’re a recent grad, I believe that you can relate to me when I say that your first job out of college is typically a resume filler. It is highly unlikely that you’ll land your dream job straight out of school (kudos if you did though!) and it’s a year to gain more experience, learn more about the industry and figure out exactly what you want to do. My first year was filled with odd-end freelance gigs and hundreds of hours at networking events. I was determined to get my dream job. In May 2016, I was presented with that opportunity. I was offered a trial-period with a company for my dream position and I was literally jumping out of my seat. I was so close I could taste it.
But something changed. After a year of working in the industry, I wasn’t sure if I could see myself staying within this exact position for an extended period of time. I always knew this job was a stepping-stone into what I really wanted to do long-term; but was it worth it? And was it really needed? I already had a year of experience in similar freelance jobs, and I really got to know what the position I was potentially walking into entailed. Like all assistant-type positions it required long hours, unglamorous tasks and a guaranteed spot at the bottom of the totem pole—but I still had a hard time digesting that.
Why was that? I did not think I was more qualified or above that position by any means; I loved my team, the company and the industry, and I knew I was good at my job. But it came down to one simple thing—I wanted more. I wanted more hands-on experience, an opportunity to be an active team member and I wanted an opportunity to prove myself. It was an extremely hard decision to make, and an even harder conversation to have when walking away from my “dream position” I had worked so hard for during that year.
The first thing I learned after leaving the job was that it is okay to walk away. So many of my colleagues have changed industries, jobs, etc. within their first couple of years after college. And nothing is wrong with them. They were good at their job, even liked it, but it wasn’t the right fit. They had a long-term goal, just like me, and wanted to make sure they were making strategic moves along the way.
Post-dream job, I have learned that I can still gain experience and learn on my own and in different positions. Sometimes the status of the company or the position, doesn’t really match up with what you are going to learn, and that’s okay! It’s okay to walk away from something that isn’t the right fit, or even take a little detour to make sure you’re gaining as much as possible from that position.
Just remember, the most important thing is making sure you’re learning along the way—it’s not the status, the job title or what your office looks like—as long as you’re learning, growing and happy, you’re one step closer to your real dream job.