We all have to start somewhere, right?
Let me paint a hypothetical picture for you: You fantasized about being a dinosaur when you were five. Then, after some deep soul searching at age 15 you discovered you really wanted to be a doctor. But, you took one organic chemistry class in college and realized you absolutely hated science, so that’s out. So, you switched over to philosophy and considered going into teaching.
That was until you interned at a tech startup over the summer and liked what that had to offer so you applied for a marketing position. You spent a few years in marketing, realized it wasn’t what you wanted to do until retirement, and started browsing open positions. You applied to job after job, and finally landed a random gig in public relations and thought, “Why not.” And you loved it, and the rest is history.
Now, your story might not be exactly like this one, but there’s a common pattern to career paths. Which is that there’s no set pattern for finding and ending up in a job you love. And that’s OK. You most likely have to try, and fail, and try again, and take risks, and say “Why not?” many times before you get there.
A recent trending hashtag on Twitter highlights this exact point. @mariancall, a songwriter, asked the internet what everyone’s #firstsevenjobs were, and the responses were truly inspiring—especially when a few select celebrities got involved:
Some sounded like people you know:
Babysitter, fruit picker, retail at Michael Hill, beauty therapist, receptionist, accounts assistant, office manager. #first7jobs— Amy McDonald (@amylmcdonald) August 5, 2016
My first 7 jobs— NeonBunny (@DJNeonBunny) August 8, 2016
1 Document shredder
2 Taco Bell
3 Host at Denny's
4 Day care worker
5 Pizza maker
6 Macy's store clerk
7 Sandwich delivery
Shop Clerk— Juliet HLC Hougland (@j_houg) August 8, 2016
Au Pair in Switzerland
Comp. Physics Simulator
Physics dept associate #first7jobs
Some were funny, or clever:
.@zachvandyke— Kelsey (@kelsandcritters) August 8, 2016
Here are my first seven jobs in emojis:
#firstsevenjobs— Chaucer Doth Tweet (@LeVostreGC) August 8, 2016
valet of householde of Kynge Edwarde III
squire of same
controllour of customs
MP for Kente (1386)
Others reminded us that stars are really just like us (or, at least were at one point):
#firstsevenjobs— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) August 7, 2016
Now Global Space Statesman!
#firstsevenjobs— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) August 7, 2016
ESL teacher in Beijing
1. Busboy 2. Cookie store cashier 3. Skateshop worker 4. Bookkeeper 5. Golfshop clerk 6. Student TV crew 7. Aerobics instructor #first7jobs— Savannah Guthrie (@SavannahGuthrie) August 6, 2016
#firstsevenjobs construction, bus boy, cafeteria server, library data entry, futon frame maker, futon salesman, waiter— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) August 7, 2016
In addition to pointing out that the “common” career path is anything but, this trending hashtag also proves that no matter where you start, there are infinite places you can reach.
Are you wondering how in the world Stephen Colbert went from construction to selling furniture to television? I can’t say that all of his construction knowledge attributed to him landing The Late Show, but odds are high that he learned certain skills there that helped propel him to where he is now.
That is what we love to call transferable skills. This means that all those first, seemingly mundane jobs you had in college, or the career you had before entirely switching gears, are just as important in helping you get to where you want to go now.
Most people’s career path aren’t one straight line. Your first three, or seven, or even 10 jobs may look entirely unrelated. But the goal isn’t to focus on that, but rather to pick up knowledge and skills along the way. Because those are what will lead you, eventually, to where you’re meant to be.