A while back, I had an informational interview with someone I had met at a conference. At this point in my life, I was struggling to figure out my path and what direction to take in television. I expressed in the interview that I wanted to meet with other people working in my industry, to learn from them about what they do in the hopes that it would help me figure out what path I could see myself taking. Because from promos, to development, to production, there’s a whole lotta shit happenin’ in the TV world. So after essentially revealing the musings of my quarter life crisis, the person I was interviewing responded with a stern: “No. Don’t waste people’s time. Figure out what you want to do, and pursue it. Don’t drag people along with you, and don’t ask someone to put their neck out for you and make connections only to not do anything with them.” I was caught off guard by his response and embarrassed that I had caused such a reaction. The interview lasted a few moments longer, I graciously thanked him for taking time to talk to me, and hung up the phone, hands still shaking. I was unsure how to process what had just happened. All I could think was: How the hell am I supposed to figure out what I want to do, if I can’t ask people and learn about my options?
The experience stuck with me, and after processing it all I realized he was right [Editor’s Note: Duh, of course he was right. He is a professional who has been working for 10+ years, I am a recent college grad tryna get my stuff together. Let’s all pause for a moment to appreciate my genius realization]. There was no reason that I couldn’t take the time and do the research and figure out what I wanted. I was just scared and anxious to have to figure it out by myself.
That interview, as awkward as it was, pushed me to discover what I knew all along, and that was: where in television I wanted to work, for what show, and in what position. It was only recently that someone actually asked me what my dream job is (the nerve of that person!) and for the first time since realizing it, I vocalized it to someone other than my cat, and made it official: My dream job is to work as a Segment Producer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Now, after a long winded and strangely personal introduction (oops), we get to the real point of this blog post: Defining The Dream Job. Since acknowledging it and telling that one person, it feels like my dream job has become my tagline. People who know what it is introduce me to others, like: “This is Megan, she wants to work at Late Night!” It’s weird, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. But mainly, it’s allowed me to be able to define for myself what having a dream job means to me. And if you’ve been rolling your eyes through the majority of this blog post, here’s the real takeaway:
My dream job is my North Star.
Okay, I will allow for one more eye roll, but now, we get to business!
What I mean by North Star is that it’s a direction in which to focus my energy towards. I am perfectly fine with telling people what my dream job is, because I can also acknowledge that I know I might not get it, and I’m okay with that. And I also know that calling it my dream job doesn’t mean it’s the perfect and ONLY job for me. But being able to tell people I have a dream job is cathartic, because it gives me purpose. And if nothing else happens, I hope having a sense of direction puts me on the path to discover something else, a different show, a different position, that is more perfect than any dream job because it’s real.
For those struggling to figure it out for themselves, the advice I can give is to do your research. Find others who work in the industry, company, or position you think you’d enjoy. Read about their experience, what they’ve worked on, where they came from. Do things in your own time–volunteer, write, attend events–that get you closer to figuring it out. Because if all else fails, it’s one more thing you can cross off the long list of potential Dream Jobs.
And finally, don’t dwell on it. You don’t need to have a dream job. Dreams change. And at the end of the day, despite whatever realization you come to, you dream job may not be at a specific company, doing exactly what you think you want to do. It could be a different company, and it’s your dream job because you’re happy. Prioritize that, because if you have to do it for 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, for the next decade, you should love what you do. If you can do that, the rest of that stuff, it just won’t matter.