Have you imagined the day that your dream job would be yours? You dream of the day you’ll walk into that particular office or meet your ultimate career idol and know that you’d work your heart out at the job. Every morning you’d wake up excited to greet the day and skip to work, and each night you’d go to sleep knowing you worked with all your might for this cause you care so deeply about.
But! You hear over and over that several factors go into whether or not you get a job offer, or even an interview! These can include who you know, what they’re looking for, your work history, experience, and so on and so on. Sometimes it feels like the job application process is completely out of your control! This is disheartening at times, especially when you’ve put so much time and energy working toward qualifiying for this dream job that suddenly feels way out of reach.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it is in your reach. That even in the most unlikely of circumstances, that dream job can be yours.
I’m not here to tell you that there’s a way to “cheat the system”. Yes, you should be qualified for your dream job to get it. And, yes, sometimes people don’t have a cup of coffee before they read your resume and thus it’s in the trash. We all have bad luck. But it’s time to take your career back into to control. Here’s how I did just that, and how it, indeed, landed me my dream job.
Thanks for tuning in. 🙂
When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to go to law school. For years prior to, I was confident that I would make a good lawyer and would enjoy law school. But, the most important reason for my plan was that I knew I wanted to work at (or run) a philanthropic foundation. It sounds corny, but the truth is that I’ve always felt like I was called to work in a way that betters humanity and helps human rights. Because foundations, especially in New York, deal with such massive endowments, I thought law school and subsequent experience in corporate law would best prepare me to handle that responsibility. And, it is true that many folks running these foundations do have law degrees. But, it’s not the only way I’ll achieve my goal, which is why I declined. I am determined to still reach my ultimate goal without attending law school.
Part 1: Getting into law school
For two years after my undergraduate career was finished, I worked at a law firm, studied for the LSAT (twice), stayed up all night working on admissions essays, and was totally dedicated to getting into the best law school I could. I’m still proud of the dedication I showed during that time. It paid off when, in the Spring of 2016, I was indeed accepted to some top tier law schools. I was thrilled!
Part 2: Declining law school
It turns out that law school comes with a huge price tag… who knew?! Well, I did know it’d be expensive. But I, like many other prospective law students, had fallen into the myth that becoming a lawyer would mean making a lot of money, certainly enough to pay off my loans in a year or two. Luckily, I caught onto the reality of debt before I took out the heaps I would’ve in law school. My reasoning for declining law school is an entirely separate story, but it ended with me taking one of the biggest risks of my life.
Part 3: Quitting my job
Once I finally decided against going to law school, I swiftly quit my job. I was working in the legal profession and simply saw no reason to stay there when I knew I wasn’t going to pursue that path.
While contemplating my decision to go to law school, I made so many pros and cons lists about going. The cons section usually something like this:
- No travel in my twenties
- Never living alone (couldn’t afford it without an income in NYC)
- Having little flexibility about exploring other passions
- Being enclosed into one option
- Too many suits
- Less time to volunteer
So I decided to quit my job and try to pursue all those “cons” I would’ve had to sacrifice or hold off on while in law school. I bought a one-way ticket to Cambodia to volunteer and travel in Southeast Asia alone until I found a job in NYC that sounded perfect for me. I wasn’t ready to settle.
It was terrifying but super empowering. For a while my whole life was like this:
My dream job
After four incredible months in Southeast Asia, I was feeling ready to begin the next phase of my career again. But, I honestly wasn’t in too much for a rush to do so. I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t give up the adventure I was on unless it meant returning to New York for a job that I absolutely loved.
Before I left, I felt like job searching would’ve meant taking the first job that was offered to me. In New York, I had bills to pay. Student loans (that I’m aggressively paying off), an apartment, and the huge bill that comes with living in Manhattan. In Asia, I only had to deal with my student loans. So, I had the luxury of waiting for a job I loved and I wasn’t going to take that luxury lightly.
As I said above, I knew I wanted to work at a foundation and a place that advanced human rights. Since I had declined law school, I was in the process of exploring what other avenues could lead me to succeed in that field. Long story short, I now work at a nonprofit that does professional development for the employees of foundations as well as briefings for foundation employees on the most pressing humanitarian issues. I couldn’t have made up a better role for myself if I tried.
My secret weapon
I began interviewing for jobs from a small apartment I was staying at in Bangkok over Skype. I was nervous that I was at a disadvantage because I was… well… on the other side of the world. So, I knew I needed to do something to make me stand out immediately when a future employer received my application.
My personal website
I made a personal website to show the detail, experience, and skills that LinkedIn does, but with the addition of my own creativity and vision. It was one of those things I had been “meaning to do for a while”, but just never had time. I took one full day, researched heavily what would be essential to a successful personal website, implemented and ta-da.
Once I made and perfected my personal website, I began spreading it around online so that it would be subtly found without me having to actively pass it along. For starters, I put it:
- On the top of resume, right under my name
- In the signature of my email
- On my LinkedIn
Once I began applying for jobs with this baby in place, I couldn’t believe the results. Let’s look at what happened with the job I currently have. I applied, I did get an initial interview, and then, after the first interview, I made sure to make my personal website clear in my follow-up email. This is what the views of my personal website looked like:
That spike in page views happened right after I passed along my personal website. No coincidence, folks. This is how my (now) employers were able to connect with me from the other side of the world. It also showed that I was proactive, creative, and cared about my personal brand.
So, yes, it’s true that in order to land your job you still need to be qualified for your dream job. But getting a job is so competitive these days, qualifications aren’t enough. I definitely find in NYC that everyone speaks multiple languages, has a good degree, is connected, etc., so you must do something to set yourself apart, and this worked beautifully for me.
Land YOUR dream job
Because I’m so obsessed with my personal website and all it’s done for me, it’s my mission to help others create the same personal brand for themselves. One of my favorite things about it is how passive it is. Now that I have it up, I barely touch it. I only go back once a yearly quarter when I review my goals to update it. I definitely recommend that you take an afternoon, get your favorite coffee treat, kick back and get this running. And, it doesn’t need to take you nearly as long as it took me because I’ve gathered all the research I did for your websites essentials and put them into one easy checklist. Grab yours below and you’ll have your personal website working for you in no time. 🙂