Today is a very funny day for me to be writing this piece. I selected this topic so I could wax romantic advice on following your dreams, making things happen, and overcoming any obstacle that comes your way. I planned to tell everyone how easy it is to go forth when you feel a passion for something. “What’s holding you back? You sometimes can rent a car if you’re under 25! Take an internship if you have to! Go anywhere you have to go!”
But when you rent a car being an under-25 driver, you incur a significant amount of arbitrary fees and taxes.
Many internships are still unpaid even if you’re a graduate rather than a student. Some companies are unable to provide a housing or travel stipend.
And what do you do when that internship is across the country and you’ve spent all your cash on that rental car? When you have no family out there and a house (or more realistically, a portion of a room that’s shared with a Russian actress), how do you even begin to wrap your head around spending the next chunk of your life there? That is quite the task, unsolvable by reading generic advice from a recent graduate herself.
That’s the position I am currently in; looking for a place to live, renting a car with everything I have, planning how to maximize my protein intake on my food budget. The internships (yes, two) are my dream jobs in the entertainment industry, in my dream workplaces, with not-so-dreamy pay for the expensive location of Los Angeles, California: City of Angels Devilishly High Real Estate Prices.
Thankfully, I am from New York where bank accounts go to die, so I’m not unfamiliar with the madness. And as a descendant of a family that loves to research, I have spent the day in my family home’s dining room scanning every rental car price comparison site on the Internet to see if I even have the cash to do it. Truth bomb: I’m terrified. As you probably are too if you are poising yourself for career success by starting from the bottom. Fear of going completely flat broke is certainly valid but maybe not enough to deter you from these types of opportunities.
What we’re calling this mass expenditure is thus: an investment in my career. I won’t get into details with the numbers, but I estimate that the amount I will spend on car/gas/housing/food/leisure (though I don’t anticipate much of this) will probably be made back within the first two months of an entry-level full-time salary in my field (everybody pray for me).
Meanwhile, I will be gaining not one, but two credits of work experience to plump up my resume. This is especially important for me, since I’m deviating from my original career path for which I had completed internships. If you need work experience and the only way to get it is through an unpaid internship, it’s probably worth your while to take that position.
Otherwise, you’re burning valuable time that you could be using to build skills, make connections, and gain credibility in your field. Assess your budget and see if this is possible. Honestly, for some, it may not be possible. I would recommend setting aside the amount of money you want to save, totaling up the remainder, and assessing how much of that you are willing to spend. As they say, “if the price is right…”
However, a non-financial reason you might be hesitant to jump into your dream career, is a fear of failure. This might sound a little psych textbook-y, but truly, this fear might be stronger than any other. Why? Anxiety—the tricky, persistent little thing that it is—can push through and cause you to sabotage yourself.
You might find yourself botching an interview that you easily could’ve nailed, or turning down a position because it isn’t in the exact state/city/county for which you had hoped. The end result might be a lack of a job and a lack of self-confidence—this is less than with what you started!
How do you kick such a powerful thing? For starters, Mind Tools suggests creating some linear, realistic “what-ifs” and solving them. They suggest listing out all the potential outcomes, including the worst case scenario. Often times, the worst result actually isn’t as bad as your anxiety may lead you to believe. Then, create a fallback plan if that makes you comfortable. Setting goals and thinking positively are other minor strategies that can be used to develop a better sense of your own goals and abilities.
Perhaps you don’t know what your dream job is, but you know you aren’t doing it now. That’s okay! If you have a fire and passion to find the
career that will be perfect for you, eventually you will find something. Inc.’s Laura Garnett stresses the importance of committing to that search, and continuing to pursue your passions.
Patience, according to Garnett, is also key in getting to that coveted end point; “focus on the small wins and trajectory.” Work on projects that are important to you, even if you have to do that in the very little spare time that you have.
Friends, I will be working one internship three days per week, another for two days per week, and working a part-time job on the weekends while picking up any side gigs that I can. The fear is real, and overcoming that fear has felt like the worst part of it all. In fact, I am extremely excited to get to work!
I get to work for companies that have created work that I have loved all my life, and that’s something special. There are certainly limitations to be considered when deciding on opportunities to take, but not all of them are reasons to push your dream job out of view.
sources: Mind Tools, Inc.