We tend to think about our careers as a straight line. First get a graduate level position, and gradually work your way up the hierarchy in your chosen field, usually in the one industry.
But if my career experiences have taught me anything, it’s that your career is a journey. Sometimes you can only connect the dots looking back and you may end up taking some roles you never dreamed of taking.
For instance, I’ve gone from working with V8 Supercars, children’s television and now to bricks – you really can’t get more diverse.
Here are some of the things I’ve learnt about building and surviving a diverse career.
- Be passionate
You have to be passionate about what you do. In a world of ceaseless communication which effectively extends the working day like never before, passion will provide you with the desire to continue on when those without would prefer to call it quits. Following your passions allows you to make the best use of your natural enthusiasm and expertise, giving you an edge over others. Think about it this way: if you can’t get passionate about what you’re working on, how can you expect anyone else to?
- Play to your strengths
Finding a role that suits your personality allows you to capitalise on your natural talents and strengths. Look for organisations and people that are able to enhance and nurture these strengths. Always look for ways to broaden the scope of your experience.
- Network and ask advice
Certainly throughout my career I have found the guidance provided by mentors to be invaluable. I started working even before I was at university; I picked up some fantastic mentors who are still my mentors today. Mentors have the ability to offer you advice and guidance in times of crisis and share the wisdom of their experience with you. This wisdom can guide you forward as you navigate your career path.
- Be brave – back yourself
As the saying goes ‘success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan’. You’ve got to learn to back yourself. It’s true that when everything is going well everyone will want to take credit for it, but it’s important to look at who made that success happen. Trusting your gut instincts and inner voice is vital if you are to build a diverse career. You must learn to trust your judgement as you take leaps in your career and deviate from the seemingly normal path. If you are learning something for the second time it is usually your instinct saying, “Told you so”.
- Be resilient
I think that a good leader should be able to show resilience because not everything is going to go well, but you still have to get back up and go to work the next morning. Particularly now more than ever it’s important to focus not on how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up.
Don’t be afraid to consider career opportunities that don’t adhere to your preconceived ideas of where you should be and when. By all means have a vision for your career and set out goals, but avoid being rigid and know that it’s okay for these to evolve as you do. What you dreamed of at 20, might look a whole lot different at 35 or 45. Ultimately it comes down to being open to new opportunities and how they can help you grow, both professionally and personally.
By Elizabeth McIntyre, CEO of Think Brick Australia