Spoiler alert: your dream job does not exist. Sorry.
That is, it does not exist if “dream” means “perfect”. There is no job that you are absolutely going to love 100% of the time. It is very common that a person’s idea of their “dream job” is based solely on fantasy and is an unrealistic hobby that they would love to get paid to do…like taste test ice cream all day or play video games for a living. No matter where you work, the alarm will still go off in the morning and, some days, you will hit the snooze button. You will still have meetings that are boring.
There is no job that will not exhaust you. There is no job that will not take you out of your comfort zone. If “dream” means “easy”, then it definitely does not exist.
However, if we’re talking about “dream job” in terms of being fulfilling and an outlet for you to use your gifts to their full potential, then YES it absolutely exists!
What are you passionate about?
What gets you fired up? What could you talk about for hours? What do you know “way too much” about? When you think of the world, what specific need hits you the hardest? There is a reason that you have seen this need. Maybe it is something lacking in the Church, the business world, the medical field, but whatever it is, you have the capability to satisfy it! God gave you passions in order to drive you toward your vocation. Your talents and passions were formed in such a way that they align. If you are hesitant of the challenges or changes that your talents are leading you towards, you don’t have to go in all at once. Shadow professionals who work in the field that you are interested in and ask questions! Apply for an internship in that area. Take up a temporary position at a company that interests you. You should always evaluate a job before you accept the position, this way, you’ll know if it is really your dream, or just a nightmare. At the risk of sounding like a Disney princess: follow your heart!
What are your talents?
What are you good at? “Nothing” is not a valid answer. You were created wonderfully, fearfully, and intentionally. You have something necessary to bring to this world. Personally, I love to communicate. Whether by writing or speaking, this gift has been validated many times by kind both words from other people, and opportunities that have presented themselves. Think about the compliments that you receive. Think about the classes that you’ve excelled in. You have talents for a reason. You are good at things for a reason. Find an outlet that allows you to put your talents to work and use your gifts to their full potential.
If you aren’t certain about where your strengths lie, fear not! Maybe you haven’t had the chance to develop and explore them to their full potential. Online resources such as StrengthsQuest and the Myers-Briggs personality test allow you to identify your strongest attributes and turn them into life-skills. Each person is unique and has a skill set that only they can bring to the world. If you allow yourself to pursue the things that you excel in, not only will you find enjoyment in what you do, but you'll be able to do it for a lifetime!
Where do you see yourself working?
Before you begin applying for jobs, it is of utmost importance that you evaluate your past work experiences. Were there things that you loved about a certain job? Things you hated about another? What tasks in past work experiences made you happy or proud? What was your biggest accomplishment? These seemingly small details should not be ignored! When you acknowledge what qualities make up your ideal workplace, you are more likely to gravitate toward a job that will suit every facet of your personality and introduce you to an environment where you will thrive!
Once you have determined your strengths, it is so important that you do not limit your career choices based on the path that people with the same degree as you generally take. If you are skilled in the realm of science, for example, you may assume that the only career-path you are suited for is to be a doctor. This could not be further from the truth! As someone who is scientifically skilled, you could be a teacher, a researcher, a lab technician, an astronomer, a member of a drug discovery team, a forensic scientist…the list goes on and on! Keep an open mind until you explore your options and are able to determine for yourself what you like and dislike.
What gives you energy?
What makes you feel the most alive? My roommate is completely changing her major after being in Guatemala for a service trip. She found so much joy working with underprivileged children that she cannot imagine doing anything else for the rest of her life.
Often, the vocation to which we are called is not what is easy. Will there be hard days and hard moments? Always. But you know it is right when not doing it is harder than doing it. A life lived in mediocrity cannot stack up to a life lived excellently. Glorify the Lord by accepting the challenges that He puts in your path so that at the end of your life, you can look back and say, “That wasn’t easy, but it was worth it”. Perseverance brings more peace than giving up.
What is your end goal?
We all have to work, but we often do so for different reasons. What do you desire most from your work? Is it personal fulfillment? Is it to be helpful to others? Is it to gain professional opportunities? Oftentimes, an ideal job will combine some mix of all these traits. Identify the goals that you have for yourself personally and professionally, and choose a career that best helps you reach those goals. For example, if you aspire to be an ambassador to a foreign country in an effort to promote world peace, you probably should not major in Mathematics and look for a job out of college as a elementary math teacher. Instead, major in Politics or International Relations and participate in summer internships working for foreign embassies. Your life is shaped by the decisions you make every single day. Be extraordinary!
Earning your just rewards
We all have to work, but we often do so for different reasons. What do you desire most from your work? Is it personal fulfillment? Is it to be helpful to others? Is it to gain professional opportunities? Oftentimes, an ideal job will combine some mix of all these traits. Identify the goals that you have for yourself personally and professionally, and choose a career that best helps you reach those goals.
One of the chief end goals for many people is to make a decent living, so it is worth talking about money. Some people choose jobs just for the money, and other people think money is evil, making career choices with a complete disregard for it. It is essential to be wise when planning for your future. While not the end goal of a job, money should be considered a reward for work well done. Money can also be the difference between a hobby and a job; if you take a job where the salary is not enough to live your life in a reasonable manner, the anguish this causes can be extreme, and you may even begin obsessing over it. That should never be the case. Choose a job where you can make a comfortable wage, but also understand that what God calls us to do, He provides for. Whatever we do, we should be using our talents in such a way that we glorify God in all we do and all he has given us. There is a job out there that is going to give you an outlet to do that, you just have to find it!
In the pursuit of landing your dream job, take the steps necessary to advance yourself toward the career that excites you! Be proactive in your job search by shadowing professionals, doing your research on the companies that you are interested in, and exploring all of the avenues that appeal to you. Don’t sell yourself short! Meditate on your talents and the unique gifts you have been given in order to determine your vocation. Determine the lifestyle that you would like to lead, and choose a job which will produce the monetary gains that will allow you to live it. Keep striving to listen to God in prayer, and He will lead the way. He is the God of clarity, meaning that you do not have to convince Him to let you in on His plan. He wants you to participate in it! God gave you desires for a reason, and He longs to satisfy them. Trust yourself. Do not be afraid to drastically change your life. Do not be afraid to switch majors or let go of a lesser dream. Do not be afraid to dream big dreams, because God dreams still bigger! You were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!