What To Do When Your Dream Job Isn’t Your Dream Job

Image credit: Esther Santer

We all live for it and we all hope for it; the ‘perfect’ dream job. Each day we wake up hoping that we get one step closer to doing what we love for a living. Whether you’re a recent graduate, full-time employee or ‘in between jobs’, it’s important to understand that getting to that destination of having your dream job is a journey. And that journey might not always be smooth… However, there will always be lessons you learn that will lead you closer to one day having that career you dream of.

Well… with that being said. I wish this was something I knew a few years ago.

I would definitely have been a bit more realistic and prepared for my own little career challenges – the challenges I would like to share to encourage everyone, especially if you’re just about to start this journey.

The journey begins

My Uni days were amazing! No doubt I had the best time ever, having the opportunity to join Erasmus schemes and gain work experience abroad. However, after four years of hard work, I couldn’t wait to start my career journey. You can imagine how excited I was when I finally graduated in BA Commerce and received my well-deserved degree certificate. There’s no way I was thinking about pursuing a post-graduate degree, I needed a mini-break, so I decided to pursue a career in marketing.

With hardly any opportunities for me in the Netherlands (Though I’m Dutch) and after months of applying and receiving many rejections, I finally landed my ‘dream job’ abroad (UK). I always knew that marketing was ‘my thing’, so moving miles away from home to do something I knew I would love was no big deal!

Bumps on the road

A few months into the job, and I realised that I had never even considered, at any previous time, that the journey was not going to be easy. Clearly, I had been dreaming for a long time and when I finally woke up, ‘the struggle was real’. You see, I wasn’t really ‘living the dream’ that I thought I would be and that was a huge ‘slap in my face’. Well… let’s make that a double one, one on each cheek. It was clear that I was inexperienced and unprepared for the challenges that I had to face. The corporate world is the real deal and definitely not a playing ground for recent grads.

The real business world

To help you understand my journey a bit more, I was responsible for the marketing activities in a couple of EU markets, which led to me having to work with two different managers. I often got caught in the middle, because pleasing one manager would always lead to the dissatisfaction of the other.

Some businesses do not see the importance of investing both time and money in the career development of graduates.

Having a career seemed hard. First of all, due to lack of training within the company. Secondly, there was a lack of preparation from my side. I was doing more than I was actually capable of. And truth be told, the ‘real business’ world is just a fast-paced environment. Even though no one plainly tells you, one of the common principles is ‘time is money’. Unfortunately, due to this principle, some businesses do not see the importance of investing both time and money in the career development of (their) graduates.

What you learn along the way

Looking back at this journey, I’m actually grateful for my experience. It taught me perseverance, patience, and hard work. However, after spending years at University, you would have thought that the corporate world is something you should actually be most prepared for…

So dear graduates and aspiring career girls, starting a career is exciting! However, before you step into the bad… I mean business side, make sure you are prepared. And most importantly, enjoy the journey!

Your first, second or even third job may or may not be your dream job. However, the experience is that which shapes you and leads you closer to finally having the dream career you always wanted.

Graduates take away:
  • Don’t have too many expectations when starting a new career
  • Never be too desperate; if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Know that sometimes businesses are desperate to too – Ask yourself, do I fit within the company?
  • Always conduct a thorough company research (What are their values? Do they match up with yours? Do they offer training schemes?)
  • Make sure that you’re on the same page (and have the same expectations) as the manager/business when it comes to the job role

Sarah Johnson

Sarah is Founder and Editor of IAMICareer. She currently holds a BA of Commerce and has a strong background in Marketing. Sarah is passionate about seeing millennials thrive in career and the workplace and is dedicated to helping millennial women bridge the gap between university and the corporate world.