I was preparing for a high stakes job interview last week, and I came across a question that seemed difficult to answer at first:
What is the biggest mistake you made in your career, and how did you overcome it?
My career rap sheet has 5 years worth of experience (relatively short time), ranging from law firms to IT, event planning, and now even engineering. When was there time for a HUGE mistake, and if there was one, how am I already over it by now? I thought back on everything it took to get to where I am today and then the grim reality hit me like a pile of bricks.
My biggest mistake was all in the beginning. Deciding to get a degree in Political Science…what a hard pill to swallow…because while I was in school full-time I was working full-time in a law office for almost 4 years with one of the most wonderful teams I’ve ever worked with. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer too, that my whole career would be shaped by a firm I was lucky enough to be a part of in the midst of extremely formative years of my life. But it was during my last semester of college that I realized I didn’t want to pursue law – it was like my school beat any remaining passion for politics out of me by shoving it down my throat constantly (Poli Porn lol)…Too late to turn back now though. Now what? I didn’t know…All I knew at this point were a bunch of things I didn’t want to do – and that folks, is where this post is going.
Knowing what you don’t want to do can be just as important as knowing what you want to do.
I quit my job and moved across the country without a real plan – I had savings and a determination to see what my newly earned degree and years at a law firm could get me. In the past year alone I have since worked in 3 vastly different industries – and after probably 300 hours of serious reflection, job applications, reading about Masters programs, pouring over my resume, skills and so forth…I figured it out. My dream is to become a Project Manager, first…famous stand-up comedian, second. 😉 I didn’t come to this answer overnight, but the only reason I got to it is because I pushed myself to try different things based on answers I found from looking inward. All this is to say, if the answer isn’t obvious to you at first, or you feel like you’re not particularly passionate about anything…(cuz every millennial poster child will tell you to pursue what you love, but that might not always be the obvious or lucrative lifestyle answer)…Don’t worry. If you know a bit about what you DON’T want to do with your life, you’re halfway there.
Oh, and to fully answer the interview question? I overcame my mistake, by still using a degree I’m not passionate about as a stepping stone into a field I am passionate about. Not such a mistake after all, huh. No degree is a mistake as long as you know how to leverage that paper, sis!