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Mess around and find out

A lot of folks have a clear vision of what they want their career to look like, then they create a plan and execute. I’ve never had such clarity or even much of a plan. There are a few probable reasons for this.

Being a first-generation college grad, I didn’t have a ton of guidance from an early age. My folks were blue-collar and lower-middle class, and the thing I remember most from childhood about what to look for in a job was take what you can get, work hard to keep it, and be thankful that you have it. This certainly instilled some good work ethic and a problematic mindset about work, but strategy is nowhere to be found in such an approach.

When I graduated college with a degree in technical communication in 2009, the economy was at a generational low-point and entry-level jobs in that field were essentially non-existent. I continued to wait tables and make drinks to pay the bills while looking for a foot in the door somewhere. When I got my first internship opportunity at a PR agency, I didn’t really think much about where it would take me or even if I wanted to be there; it was an opportunity to move upward (whatever that means), and of course, I jumped on it.

I’ll spare you, dear reader, a detailed account of every twist and turn I’ve taken since that first day, but there have been quite a few. I never imagined myself as a software engineer, but I jumped on enough opportunities along the winding path that somehow got me here. I tried a lot of stuff that worked out and a lot of stuff that didn’t, and I figured out how to run as the dust settled.

This past year has been a lot of things for everyone, no doubt. For me, it’s been a chance to reflect and feel thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and sad for the losses I’ve experienced. Perhaps for the first time in my adult life, it’s provided me with space to intentionally consider my career from a more strategic perspective without the fear of impending poverty. I cannot stress how much of an advantage that is in the game of life, and it’s one I hope not to forget.

I’m at another turning point today, and I see many great opportunities before me. I don’t know if I’ll go in the direction I want, but I’m going to find out—hopefully with a bit more intention this time around.