Five Years Later

Today’s post has a little different flavor to it because I’m feeling contemplative: this weekend marks five years since I graduated college. FIVE YEARS. That seems like so long ago, but I also realize that in a few years I’ll look back and I won’t think it was that long after all!

Like any college student, I was full of hopes and dreams about my career and eager to see my hard work for my degree pay off. A question that was asked frequently to me in interviews was, “where do you see yourself in five years?” My answer was always confidently “as a senior designer,” which was typically met with some surprise. And understandably so, considering I had no idea just how difficult it is for me, for anyone, to work up that many levels in that short of a time period. Now that five years have passed, in case you didn’t already know, I am most definitely not a senior designer. Not even close- I’m a freelance merchant and I’m also 7 months pregnant. The span of those five years has covered a whole lot of ups and downs, of high hopes and discouragement, and there’s been a theme of heartache and adjusted expectations throughout. You can read more about that here. Today, however, I’ve decided to be a little more positive as I look back over the past five years. Yes, my career hasn’t turned out the way I wanted it to be, but I’ve also learned a lot along the way and had a lot of really wonderful experiences – and at five years in, it’s still really just beginning. So I’m sharing what I’ve learned, so far, five years in. I realize some of this may not apply to you, and I’m not trying to make blanket statements! Everyone’s career is spun from a different web. These just happen to be true for me.

  1. Following Up Doesn’t Always Make A Difference.

I’ve followed up on jobs I’ve applied for – lots and lots of times. However, for each job that I’ve gotten (I’ve had six), it’s never been one that I’ve followed up on. So while following up certainly can’t hurt, it’s never made a difference for me.

2. Where You Work Is Just As Important As What You Do

I can’t stress this enough and how true I’ve found it to be: I’ve held a couple of positions doing just what I want to do, but each time they were for companies that didn’t treat their employees well, and it soured my overall experience. Conversely, some of the jobs I’ve enjoyed the most are actually jobs that I didn’t particularly like or find meaningful, but were at companies that treated their employees well and promoted a healthy work environment.

3. What You’re Doing Now Doesn’t Have To Last Forever

I’ve reminded myself of this from time to time when I’ve had a difficult day or felt down about where my career is. And it really has been true in my career – I’ve had, on average, more than one new job every year. And while I’d love to one day work, for myself or for someone else, doing what I love and staying there for a long time, it’s helpful to remember this when I’m not able to do what I truly love.

4. Don’t Let Anyone Make You Question Your Own Intelligence

This has not been something fun to learn, that’s for certain. While I’ve been in some of the lower level positions that I’ve held, I’ve been treated like I don’t know anything or looked down upon and presumed to only know so much because of the job I’m doing at the time. And let me tell you – it’s pretty frustrating to be treated like an intern when you have a college degree, a master’s degree, and years of experience in the industry! Slowly, however, I’ve learned to overlook it when people treat me like this. One, because it gives the impression that they themselves are insecure in their position, and two, because I know my own capabilities and intelligence – they don’t.

5. Dreams Are Still Important

Five years later, some of my professional hopes and dreams have changed, but a lot are exactly the same. They’re not going anywhere and I’m not going to let them. I will still hold on to them and hope and pray that someday, they might be fulfilled, because I believe that I have these dreams for a reason. And really, it’s still just the beginning.


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