A couple of days ago Lily twittered a question that resonated with me, partly because I was unhappy with the answer I gave. She asked:
Are you doing your dream job? How did you get it?
The first part was pretty easy. It’s no secret that I love my job — I’ve wanted to be a lawyer for years and I’ve been incredibly lucky with the firm at which I’ve ended up. My answer to the second part, however, seemed overly simplistic and a little facetious:
The hardest part is working out what, in practice, it is. Then I just had to ask.
What did I mean? Well dream jobs tend to be something productive, for a start. While we all initially imagine we’d love to paid to sit around at home all day, most of us would find it gets dull pretty fast. Secondly, it’s likely to be something that plays to our skillset already. In theory your dream job is probably something you’re perfectly suited to do already (or with a little training) which is what I meant by the fact that once you work it out, you just have to ask: almost by definition you ought to be ideal applicant for the job you should have (or at least good enough to make the cut anyway). You can swing things in your favour through interview technique, etc., but really that’s just ensuring they see you and your skills properly.
In my case there was one other thing in the back of my mind that I really wanted to do: write. I’m certainly out of practice now but I used to write a great deal, some of which is available via this site, but a lot of the fiction (in the form of short stories or sometimes snippets of prose) was only ever read by a select few people. Eventually I decided to take the legal route. It would be easy to see “professional writer” as the dream job I discarded but I think it was more than pragmatism. The legal life does seem better to suit my overall skillset, even if much comes from my ability with the English language. However it still gives me time to devote to books, writing things like this blog, and even something more substantial should I choose to in the future.
Other hobbies have arguably taken over these days, with photography, film and technology being among them. My job is able to support my lifestyle in terms of these, providing both money and adequate time to enjoy them (both being equally crucial). The fact the firm specialises in technology, with a wide range of clients from that sector, further tightens the link. So the job choice wasn’t solely dictated by my interests, but my firm selection partly arose from them, making it easy for me to sell myself as right for the role.
I think it’s also important to note the difference between the freedom of a hobby and rigidity of a job. For example, while I enjoy photography and in the past have even received small jobs through it, I doubt I would enjoy the life of a professional photographer at all. The lack of freedom in commissioned work would feel stifling by comparison to the freedom I have of taking my camera into the wild (well, the City normally) and shooting whatever I like. It’s very definitely something I want to continue to explore as a hobby and not as a job. Should the opportunity to exploit the results financially occur later on, I am always free to do that.
So there are a lot of potential “dream jobs” that in practice really aren’t. Selecting the right one really might be the hardest part of getting there. Not that you have to get it right first time, of course. Or that there’s even just a single dream job for you out there. Life can be short or long but always should be varied and interesting. Isn’t that the dream? This post has meandered a bit, but hopefully answers a fairly loaded question a lot better than I could in Twitter’s 140 characters.