Towards the beginning of the year, people tend to take stock of their lives. How much closer have they gotten to achieving their long-term personal and professional goals? That question often leads once again to that search for the ever-elusive dream job.
For some people, those dream jobs haven’t been so elusive. We spoke with four individuals who’ve landed their dream jobs in hopes of gathering some valuable advice to help others do the same. Here’s what they had to say...
Sahil Patel - Senior Reporter for Digiday
Sahil Patel, a Senior Reporter for Digiday, always knew he wanted to work in the media and entertainment industry. Initially, he thought that would mean becoming a director, producer or writer. When working in his first position in New York City, a new contact offered Sahil the career-changing opportunity to cover the then-budding business of digital TV. He accepted and took a passionate interest, learning all the ins and outs of TV, digital publishing, and video.
"I found my way into the industry, but not in the way that I had originally envisioned,” Sahil told us, “which goes to show, keep some doors open!"
In his second year in the business, Sahil had learned how to thrive in the previously uncharted digital video territory. He helped launch a digital trade publication to cover the burgeoning industry, which ultimately allowed him much more access into the media and entertainment space. This access led to experience, a ton of new contacts and a gateway to his current job.
Now at Digiday, Sahil has several major responsibilities on top of reporting. He produces multiple industry conferences each year and participates in panels, conferences and podcasts alongside some of the elite of the digital entertainment industry. Day-to-day life largely consists of covering trending stories from direct sources for Digiday. While he’s creating stories, he gets to meet new sources and industry personalities, participate in client offsite meetings, cover industry events and more. It’s a good thing talking with people is something Sahil enjoys most.
Learn The Art of the Follow-Up
In this industry, as well as many others, it’s all about the follow-up. Sahil recommends that dream job seekers follow up with everyone, from interviewers to people they’ve informally spoken with. In doing so, remember to include interesting points mentioned in your previous discussions. You want to make that person feel like you were interested in them, not just the idea of boosting your career. Attention to detail always matters, particularly when you’re a reporter.
"There's no excuse for not being prepared,” says Sahil. Additionally, Sahil recommends job seekers to never make assumptions, never give up and most importantly, never stay in the same lane.
"Don't keep your head down. Do hard work, of course, but network, network, network. Talk to new people and get to know them. You never know how they are going to help in the future, whether as a great source for information or someone who helps advance your career. Get to know people."
Victoria Cumberbatch - Program Leader for Remote Year
Victoria Cumberbatch, the Program Leader for Remote Year, says that the best professional move she made was applying to a year-long work-study at The Barrow Group Theatre in New York City. There, she studied and practiced improvisational theater. Improv relentlessly pushes performers out of their comfort zones, so Victoria’s background in the performance arts helped her feel at ease while engaging with the unfamiliar and prepared her for the unpredictable situations that come with frequent travel and introducing groups of strangers to new places--exactly her responsibilities at what ended up being her own dream job..
Now, working with Remote Year’s Earhart group, she’s the go-to logistics leader for a group of 30-40 professionals, both entrepreneurs and freelancers, who have decided to work remotely together while traveling and exploring cities around the world. Her Remote Year group trips run from four to 12 months, with stops including Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City.
It’s an exciting journey, and Victoria is one of two group leads responsible for making sure systems fire on all cylinders. Whether she’s out scouting coworking spaces to plant her team in various cities or working with locals to coordinate their stay and activities, Victoria can solve a problem before her group members even know there is one. In short, Victoria acts as both the group’s engine and their road map.
Victoria’s workday requires only a computer and her troops, and her office exists in whichever city they’re stationed in for the time being. So, yes--one of her main jobs is to explore the globe.
Even though she’s constantly traveling and organizing other people’s schedules, Victoria still has her me-time. She dedicates a portion of her day to personal development. In the late morning and early afternoon, she writes for AdventuresOFv, works out and practices yoga. In the evening, she takes time to ensure that all tickets and other logistics are in order.
Build genuine connections
Victoria values traveling the world with the a new group of 30-40 people each year and she attributes landing her dream job with Remote Year relied on relationship-building. It’s all about developing genuine connections – the right connection could take you around the world, literally.
“Never stop connecting with people -- relationships create memories, build bridges, and get jobs. Second best advice is read any and everything by Dale Carnegie and practice his points as often as possible.”
Roberto Agrait - Apparel Designer for Puma
Unconventional routes can help job seekers stand out, but that doesn’t mean tried-and-true methods are any less effective. For PUMA Apparel Designer Roberto Agrait, the journey to his current job followed a familiar career path. In college, he studied a fashion program that taught him the basics, from sewing and draping to creating fashion illustrations. From there, he spent a semester as a PUMA intern, where he got to experience the industry firsthand. When it came time to apply for jobs, he was ready to pounce like a, well, PUMA.
In many cases, professional passions and recreational hobbies overlap. For Roberto, a background playing sports made him an even better fit for his professional role designing sportswear.
As an apparel designer, Roberto’s day is a shifting landscape, which makes coming into the office each day an adventure in itself. His daily work schedule varies depending on the season. Currently, he often finds himself looking for inspiration for concepts he can pitch internally. At other times of the year, he might be glued to a computer, designing and creating forthcoming products for sale.
Seize every opportunity, large or small.
Roberto knows that networking is the key to leveling up your career in the fashion industry. The same can be said for almost any other sector. Networking is just necessary. Whether actively searching for a job or even comfortably employed, Roberto encourages candidates to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Those opportunities can turn out to be stepping stones, reached by learning from and working with people who may lend a helping hand in the future.
"An opportunity to do anything within a company is a building block and step to the final goal most times... For me, that’s what led to getting my job. I was filling in temporarily as a designer. While I was working, a full-time design position opened up, and I applied. Already working temporarily allowed the team to see me work and get to know me, which definitely helped me prove that I could do the job. And they gave me the opportunity, and it’s been great since."
Jillian Richardson - Freelance Event Producer and Writer
Writer and freelance event producer Jillian Richardson starts each day with a "Conquer List." Even the small details, like giving her to-do list such an ambitious name, have set Jillian up to carve her own path. The tasks she conquers each day help shape both her attitude and her success in her chosen fields.
As a writer, Jillian is the conversational, fun voice behind several brands’ blogs, including Time, Contently, Quartz, TeenVogue and AdWeek, to name a few. When it comes to events, she creates experiences that incorporate joy, personal development and meaningful connections. Her favorite part of the job is creating experiences that bring people together, which makes her a pro when it comes to networking events. One of these creations is her latest endeavor, Hustle Fest: Full Time to Freelance.
With such a busy schedule, Jillian finds changes of scenery and “chunking” her workday make her most productive. That means spending four to five hours writing before lunch, taking a 20+ minute walk to the coffee shop (a suitable distance to help clear her mind) and then saving event planning and task management for the second half of the day. One standout point that freelancers should take from Jillian is knowing when to stop. For her, she always has something in her calendar from 7pm on.
"Having something planned at night gives me a hard deadline, which makes it easier to get stuff done and not put it off until the last minute."
Say Yes, even before you’re ready
To get where she is today, Jillian practiced saying yes even before feeling completely ready to take on a new, daunting task. She found this tactic particularly self-fulfilling when taking the leap she needed to start her conference, Hustle Fest.
"The devil on my shoulder told me that I didn’t have the authority to start my own conference, and that no one would take me seriously. But I did the thing anyways–– because it was the type of event that I’d personally been searching for. I knew the world needed it, so I took a deep breath and dove in."
Jillian suggests that freelancers don't wait for an opportunity. Instead, they should reach out to the companies they love, adore and would want to work for. Even if those companies don't work with a freelancer today, they keep them on the radar for future consideration.
She also recommends leaving your age off the internet, as it can be a hurdle for entrepreneurs looking to be judged only on the basis of their work.
Now, Go Get That Dream Job
There is no single path to the dream job. Some find it down the traditional interning route Roberto Agrait traveled. Others go it as solo entrepreneurs like Jillian Richardson. Still others, like Victoria Cumberbatch or Sahil Patel, take advantage of uniquely presented opportunities.
Even if your interests as job seekers lie far outside the subjects profiled today, the same advice applies to everyone: be persistent, stay active and maintain communication to build a solid network and propel your career forward. Fostering success is about creating your own luck, not waiting around to be chosen.
As we’ve learned from our subjects (and many more examples throughout history), it’s up to us to fuel the journey. Make it happen by taking chances, making meetings and, as Sahil said, always keeping your head up.
Are you in the search of your dream role? Unlock the secrets to a successful job search and discover the tips, tools, and techniques that will land you your best job yet in our new class with Glassdoor.