With our generation, many of us found ourselves in a job after college that was not exactly in line with our professional aspirations. My first job, for example, was as a floor sales person for a department store chain. My dream was to be a fashion buyer, but the reality of the job market and the competitiveness of the field in which I wanted to work prevented me from fulfilling that goal.
Looking back, however, I realize that that first job set me on the path to finding a career I loved. And guess what? It has nothing to do with fashion.
That’s not to say that you should forget your dreams. I’m mostly suggesting that you not worry too much about where you work directly out of college. For me, that first job led to a project coordinator role at a financial services firm (a weird, long story), and then a sales coordinator position at a consumer products company… where I still work today. In the years that have passed here, I’ve advanced through three different positions to a senior manager level. It was hard to imagine back when I was stocking the shelves and dealing with fussy old ladies as a sales gal.
There are two things that should happen for you, no matter what your first job may be. One is that different choices you make aligned with different circumstances and people you meet will ultimately land you in a job you love (like me). Another option is to make your dream happen by changing your career!
It’s not as tricky as you might think. The benefit of working at a job—any job—is that you now have transferable experience. As a salesperson I can tell you that any skill you learn at any job can be “spun” to be relevant to a future employer. You can also now figure out if pursuing a graduate degree or even just continuing education classes would help you get into your dream field. Having a job—even if it’s not ideal—buys you the time to figure out your action plan and go for it.
The point is there are a lot of ways to find yourself in a job you enjoy and is in line with your aspirations. Sometimes, the job you have may even surprise you when it leads you to bigger and better things you hadn’t even imagined before.