This is an amazing but can definitely be a daunting question. When I entered college, I thought Engineering/Architecture was 100% me. After one semester, I dropped engineering as a whole and refocused on Psychology. A year later I went more specifically into Social and Industrial Psychology (How are industries setup from a people perspective, how the hierarchy within a company is created and maintained, optimizing a companies structure to utilize their talent the most effectively, etc). Once I graduated, being in the Bay Area, tech sales was an easy option to jump into but not related to my college degree. After a year within that world, the startup that I was at was acquired and I essentially lost my job. Feeling mixed about my last year in software sales, I wanted to connect with someone who knows me almost better than myself, my father, to help me with the question 'what next?'.
When speaking to my father, he was very excited to help me find a new career. He told me many great pieces of advice and luxuries that we have in todays working world that folks did not have 20-40 years ago. One of the pieces he mentioned was, try something new as the best way to learn about yourself is to try things. He told me a quote that I still use everyday in my life, and that being - "It's very important to know what you love and are good at doing, but it is just important to know what you don't love and what your not good at doing as that will help you find your path". Through this mentality I started creating lists of basic tasks/skills that I felt I had and enjoyed doing, and things that I knew I didn't have and hated doing. After doing this exercise for one day, it was clear that I loved selling but also love helping people. This pointed me in the general direction of what I am doing now and love doing, which is recruiting.
I work with unique people on a daily basis (something I listed I enjoyed) learning about their life stories and what is important and meaningful to them. From there I can match those individuals with teams and people within a company that matches the candidates. Furthermore, I discuss pain points in a persons career or situation and consistently try to better as much as I can there. The return I get from this fires me up every single day. I have helped give opportunities to parents who were traveling cross the country 5 days a week be closer to their kids. I have helped individuals who were undervalued at their current organization hit their true potential in stride. I have better myself and my company in each of these experiences.
It's a lot, but hope this helps!
Matthew recommends the following next steps:
- First, find things you enjoy doing and think you are strong at. Write out a full list of everything you can think of and dont be shy! You would be surprised how many unique careers there are in the world today and some might match your natural abilities and desires very easily.
- Continue to do this exercise as you continue to grow and develop. You change just like everything else in this world and it's smart to be aware of that.
- Don't be afraid to fail. The only bad failure is one you don't learn from. Fail fast, learn and move on. From my experience, its monumentally better to try something you are interested and fail or realize you dont have the amount of interest/skills in that field than to never try it and always wonder... 'what if?'
- Ask questions. Talk to people. Most peoples stories and careers are very interesting and those will always help you