From the age of 15 through my first year out of college, I had a plan: get a degree in Art History, get an internship at an art museum, get a job at an art museum in the curatorial department, work through the ranks to Curatorial Assistant, go to grad school, become a curator. By year two out of school I'd accomplished steps one through four and I was not in love. How could it be possible that art was my everything but that it would not be my profession?
Mix not loving the day to day with other issues at my job as well in my personal life, and all of these things resulted in the decision to deviate from the plan. In 2015, I left the museum for a full time position in fundraising and marketing at a local nonprofit. For the last two years I've learned some skills in this position, but more significantly I've learned about myself. And what I now know about myself is that the culture at an organization is just as important as the daily duties I have. So... continuing to deviate from the plan, it's time for a change.
As I approach another change, I find myself in an interesting position: I have two exciting options!!! I won't name specifics (I'm a bit superstitious and don't want to jinx myself), but essentially the options are to move away to a big city and start fresh with no plans or move not so far away and work closely with a woman I respect immensely at a feminist nonprofit. I have no answer yet and no sure way to resolve such big decisions, but this crossroads in my life got me thinking about changes and how we can feel prepared and empowered to choose change. Below is a list of my thoughts for those of you wondering if it's time for change and how you might want to go about it. Again, I have no answers, but I have food for thought!
1. Pros/Cons Lists
I started with the most obvious lists, comparing and contrasting various types of jobs, but my BFF showed me her pros/cons list of life and it rocked my world. Make a list of things you love and hate in life and see where it leads to or what it points out or even what kind of job it might describe. My list includes loving feminism, collaboration, cats, and Halloween as well as hating the patriarchy, disorganization, monotonous daily activities, and mushrooms. Seriously, put everything on the list. Hell, even if it doesn't help you know what kind of change to make, it will help you better understand yourself!
2. Read, read, and read some more
Whether you dive into research on the various professional fields you're interested in or into stacks of novels, I've found that reading helps me better understand what I truly care about and love. It makes sense now that the museum world didn't work out for me, seeing as I fell asleep every time I tried to read art theory…
3. Personality Tests
If you're anything like me, you find personality tests fun to take and the results fascinating to read. If you're not like me, you're probably rolling your eyes at this suggestion. I get it, I get it! It's obvious that personality tests can tell you about yourself, but I've also found that some companies want to know MBTIs as they consider applicants for positions. Know your type and know how it influences your work style to make job hunting and interviews just a tiny bit easier. I'd suggest the free and detailed test here.
4. If possible, find a mentor
This one is huge and also the trickiest tip to follow. I'm not sure if it's sheer luck or hard work that leads to finding a mentor - or maybe you have to be working hard for a good mentor to notice you when they luckily turn up in your life. Look for potential mentors at work, where you volunteer, or even amongst YNPNmaine members! My mentor (who is more than a mentor and is also a friend, a genius, a comedian, and an all around rock star) challenges me to think outside of the box, supports me when I'm lost, and believes in me. That last part has been vital over the last few years and I am ever thankful for her commitment to my professional and personal growth… and her commitment to regularly splitting a bottle of wine with me when times are tough. My mentor is actually the reason I have not one, but two options in front of me right now. Schedule an informational interview with someone you admire ASAP and see if they have the capacity to offer you some guidance.
I'm not sure what to say about the student loans breathing down our necks as we navigate life changes (sorry), but in general I’d say we should keep an open mind, stay positive, and always cross our fingers!