“I’ll admit, my dream job was to work for a non-profit organization when I was applying to colleges back in high school. Four years later, I came out with a college degree in international affairs but no non-profit experience. I thought I had lost sight of that goal, but today, even if I don’t have the opportunity to contribute to an office like this, I know that my goal is still possible.”
I spoke candidly about my aspirations to my employer, an international non-profit organization in the heart of New York City. The faces of my interviewers lit up as I described my personal and professional experience and why I applied for a position at their company. They knew I did my research and understood the company’s mission. Better yet, I had demonstrated that I was passionate in promoting their ideas.
During one of the worst job markets this country has experienced, I, like many other peers, had few interviews with companies, let alone dream companies. My manager decided to give me the job. I was ecstatic and immediately jumped on board. I learned the quirks of the office, adapted to their technology, and contributed to the office. The work was difficult, but mostly gratifying. Day in, day out, doing routine work, coordinating schedules, running to appointments, and meeting deadlines, I happily trotted to and from work each day knowing I went from being a poor broke college student to a successful young adult making her way through the world.
I quickly got acclimated to contributing to the office. I was excited and inspired by the work around me, learning a little more each day about the details that made a non-profit successful. One early morning, as I checked my work emails and reviewed my day, I stopped cold. I realized I had actually achieved my high school dream job, despite the horrible job market. Now what?
The moment I became self-aware that I had fulfilled this goal, I became less and less excited about my job.
I met each morning with dragging feet. I left each evening by running out. During the day, I continued to meet my deadlines, crank out reports, and upheld my responsibilities, I met each moment with slight contempt and frustration. Why am I here? Why bother? If I left the company today, they wouldn’t miss me.
I spoke to my parents and friends about how I achieve my ultimate professional goal and found it unsatisfying. It was frustrating to sit at the office to feel uninspired and bored. I wanted more out of my job. I wanted more out of my professional life. I didn’t want to settle for a desk job at a dream organization and work through the motions. I need more.
Sometimes, achieving your professional goals isn’t enough.