Feeling Stuck In Your Career As A Young Professional

Feeling Stuck In Your Career As A Young Professional

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching about my career, lately.

And as a result, I’ve been a crazy mess full of anxiety!

But before I get into that, let me just make sure everyone understands something…

My life isn’t terrible! I really don’t don’t have much to complain about, at all.

I have an amazing fiance, we’re getting married in November, and our new house is supposed to be ready by then too.

So no, definitely not a terrible life.

But I’m 24 years old and I feel stuck.

Stuck in my career.

Stuck in a career that I’m not really passionate about.

Again…disclaimer here…I am SUPER THANKFUL for my job. SUPER THANKFUL for the amazing people that I get to work with.

But does the idea of doing this job for the rest of my life make me want to jump for joy?!?!?

No, I don’t think so.

Could I do it?

Sure…I’m pretty confident that I could perform really well at almost any job (with some training, obviously).

But do I WANT to do it? Do I WANT to do it forever?

That’s an entirely different question.

Call me naive, that’s fine, but I still really hope and believe that it’s possible to find a career and a job that you’re passionate about.

And more than that, I believe it’s what you should be striving for.

Sure, a job is a job and there are inevitably going to be days that suck…Days where I have no desire to get up for work, and instead want to spend my entire day binge-watching tv shows on Netflix.

But I want to wake up excited about the work that I’m doing.

I want to wake up and go to work and know that it’s something that I love and that I’m good at.

Something that I’m passionate about….

Something that does bring me a sense of personal satisfaction…

While knowing that I’m helping others in the process.

So when I think about what that is, I know the answer to it…

More than anything I want to be an On-boarding & Employee Development Specialist.

I want to work with companies, developing training sessions that will benefit both their employees and their leadership team.

I want to coach individuals to perform their best at a job, and I want to provide them with resources that help them get there.

If I could do that everyday, I’d be a really happy camper.

I know it.

But it’s not always so easy to transition into a new career field.

And I know I’m not the only one in this situation, for sure.

Especially us young professionals.

I mean, come on. We had to pick a major, something to study, when we were like 18 years old. At 18, I didn’t even know how to do my own laundry (thanks, momma, for all your help with that).

So I chose a major. And I got a Bachelors degree in Healthcare Administration. And I then went on to pursue a Masters degree in something that I assumed would complement my undergraduate education.

I earned my Master’s degree in Public Administration, as well as a Graduate Certificate in HR, and through that entire crazy process, I came to develop a passion for human resources and employee development.

Hence the creation of this blog, 3 years ago.

And you know what? It’s so great that I finally found something that makes me light up when I talk about it!!

It’s such a cool feeling!

Except for one thing…

I’ve never held a full-time job in HR!

So at this point in my career, when I’m already making a decent income and have a wedding and house to pay for, can I afford to take a job as a secretary in some HR office, hoping to climb that corporate ladder?

Not really.

Actually…I just looked at my bills for this month, and no….no I VERY MUCH can’t afford it.

(On a sidenote: think about how many young professionals out there are in a similar situation. They studied their butts off and studied something that they love, but got a job in something TOTALLY DIFFERENT because it paid the bills…because it allowed them to pay off their student loans. And now, 5…7 years later, they’re stuck at a job that they don’t really love, all for the money.)

So what are my options, then?

I can work really hard and continue to pursue this passion of mine in any way that I can, and hope that one day a company will allow me the opportunity to become an OED Specialist based solely on my volunteer experience and the content that I write on this blog…

Or, I can sell out.

I can do a job that I’m NOT passionate about, because it pays well.

And as the years go by, I can feel that much farther away from my dream.

Yea, it’s a little dramatic, but you know what I’m trying to say here.

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe I’m totally crazy, but I feel like I’m way too young to sell out. I’m way too young to not work towards the things that would make me happiest.

I’m way too young to make my career decisions solely on the digits that appear on my paycheck.

Because I really, truly believe that if more people did the things that they love to do, the workplace would be so much better.

If more people woke up excited to perform their job responsibilities, people would be happier! And people wouldn’t be so nasty at work! And people would be more productive! And people wouldn’t be so stressed all the time! And as a result, there’d be less heart attacks every year.

So I think this is the end of my rant. It’s been a while since I just word-vomited on a blog post.

But it’s how I feel, and I know I’m not alone.

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Career Series No. 5 – Organizational Psychology

Organizational Psychology.

What did you want to be when you were growing up and why?

I wanted to be a lawyer. I’m Nigerian American, so from childhood I was taught to be either a Doctor, Lawyer, or Engineer (lots of options lol). I wasn’t great at chemistry, and I didn’t want to do any more math than I had to. I was good at getting my point across, had strong writing skills, and loved the idea of the corporate environment. So being a business lawyer just seemed to be the natural choice for me.

What is your current job (or job that you’re discussing)?

I am a principal consultant/ co-founder of Smart Workplace Consulting. So to be general- I’m in the field of Industrial Organizational (I/O) Psychology. 

How did you land that position? (What made you want to pursue that?)

I always knew I wanted to own my own business. While I was in graduate school, I met my Smart Workplace Consulting partner. We were both very interested in modern workplace issues, especially topics pertaining to millennials & social media in the workplace. So after graduate school and working for other companies for a while, we decided to open up our own company. We want to be able to use our expertise to serve professional millennials.

The reason I went into the field of Industrial Organizational Psychology was because I used to work for a company called Nelnet, which was in the collections dept. My job was to call people and convince them to pay their student loans. As you can imagine, it can be a very stressful job, but I loved just about every second that I was at the company. The company did such a great job in their hiring process, really worked to develop their staff, and really went the extra mile to take care of us. As a result, I was inspired to go into a field where I could help other organizations better manager their people. I wanted to help make sure that employees are happy in their jobs and motivated to produce high level results. I started doing research, and found out about Industrial Organizational Psychology. From there, I applied to a couple graduate schools, and the rest is history.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

I’m at the startup phase of my company, so my days are spent developing my business. Reaching out to people to offer my services, and studying to make sure that I’m staying on top of what is going on in our field. For others in my field who are more seasoned, they’re probably involved in a lot of meetings, conducting interviews, studying data, training people, and presenting, etc. It’s definitely a field that’s broad enough to allow you to take your job in whatever direction you want to take it.

What do you love most about it?

I love making work a better place for people. We spend so much time there and organizations spend so much money on having their employees there. So why not make it a situation where both sides are satisfied? I love making this happen utilizing data and research in a “smart way.”

What do you hate most about it?

What is rough about our field is that  although EVERY company needs an I/O psychologist or someone with an I/O background to get their people where they would like to them to be, we are a small/young field and not really well-known to everyday people. So it’s definitely a struggle trying to explain to people the benefits of using an I/O professional. Not only that, but early on in your career, you sometimes have to get a bit creative in the positions that you take, to get the experience you need to continue growing.

What’s the coolest thing that ever happened to you at work? 

Seriously, the coolest thing that ever happened was when I talked to my first potential client. I can’t share their name for confidential reasons, but let’s just say that they’re in the entertainment industry, musicians use their venue to hold concerts, and they also have a restaurant component to their business. The majority of their employees would be considered millennials, or at least have a millennial mindset, which is the demographic we love to work with. I freaked out for 2 hours before actually making the phone call. Right before I made the call, my speaker stopped working (insert crying emoji here), so I had to go borrow my brother’s phone. So as I’m making this call with a client that could potentially be a game changer for us, I kept losing signal and dropping the call. So embarrassing! I could have tried to be cool and play it off, but I was honest and let the client know that I was having a lot of phone drama. He was really cool and understanding, but I still kick myself today for that incredibly embarrassing situation. Regardless, I got to interact with an awesome company.

What strengths do you think are necessary for someone to be successful at this job?

I think you need to be somewhat analytical, and you need to be someone who is great at listening without presenting your own biases or assumptions. This is because most of the time, you’re being hired to fix a problem (picture Olivia Pope for companies). So biases (we all have them) gets in the way of doing the job correctly. Also, you need to have super-strong communication skills.You could be working with an executive one minute and an employee the next, so having great communication skills and knowing how to work with different people will get you far.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone who’s looking to pursue this as a career?

When you are looking at colleges, make sure you do your research. Pay attention to how you’re placed into internships and the types of research your potential professors are involved in, to see if it exposes you to what you hope to accomplish after graduate school.

Start learning about organizational behavior early on. It is very fascinating (well at least I think so).If you don’t think so, this field may not be the one for you. Turn anything you hear about in the news involving a company doing something with the employee component of their business into a case study. For example, why is Starbucks really offering free education to their employees, and what are the implications? And what’s the deal with Zappos‘ new organizational structure? Getting yourself used to that kind of thinking as soon as possible will make you that much more successful in school and beyond. Best of luck!

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Thanks for checking out Week #5! If you’d like to participate, fill out the contact form HERE and let me know why you’d like to be a part of this adventure!

Career Series No. 4- Camp Director


Hi everyone! Welcome to Week #4 of my new  Gen Y Girl Career Series. Today, my friend Donna is sharing some of her work experience with us… and I’m pretty jealous! Her job sounds like so much fun! Let us know what you think :)


What did you want to be when you were growing up and why?

Growing up I really wanted to be an author. For years and years and years I had dreams of spending my days filling notebooks and word documents with stories. And then traveling to book signings and whatever else I thought authors did to get a paycheck. I wanted to be an author for the very simple reason that I loved to write and from a very early age I was determined to do something I loved.

What is your current job?

Today I work as an Assistant Camp Director at a summer camp for children, youth and adults with disabilities.

How did you land that position? (What made you want to pursue that?)

I grew up going to summer camp and I absolutely loved the time I spent at camp each summer. I always knew I wanted to be a camp counselor when I was in high school/university as a summer job. I grew up at a very small church camp and it wasn’t until I was in high school and started Googling and reading about summer camps that I learned there were bigger camps out there that operated for more than two months. I did a lot of research and learned that there was such a thing as a Bachelor of Recreation. I minored in Religious Studies because I was interested in working at a Christian camp.

In some ways I ‘fell into’ the Assistant Director at my current camp. I was looking for something different and the camp was just beginning a big transition after a few difficult years. I knew it was a great opportunity to have a big say in the programming and restructuring of camp.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

The first thing most camp directors will tell you is there’s no such thing as a typical day at camp, every single day is different, which is part of what makes it such a great job! For the sake of answering the question though, I’ll do my best to give you an idea of what a day looks like, I live on site during the summer so my daily schedule is a lot different from most would consider a typical work day!

 7:30 a.m. – Wake Up, check in with cooks, grab a cup of coffee and head to the office to check e-mail, weather report and review the daily schedule making changes if needed according to the forecast.
9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. – Campers and counselors are participating in morning activities. Usually I’m moving around from activity to activity checking to see that things are going well and people have what they need. Occasionally there is paperwork to be done during this time and some days there are meetings with the cooks and nurses to solve problems and keep everyone communicating and working together.
12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – We have lunch followed by rest period. Typically during this time I check emails and camp social media accounts again then gather supplies and set up for afternoon programming. It’s also common for me to head to the cabins to help get campers ready for swim.
2:00-5:00 p.m. – Campers rotate between swimming and another afternoon activity. Some days I might join the campers for a swim or help out with the alternate activity. Occasionally I’ll have to make a trip to town during this time to pick up supplies and run any camp related errands.
5:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Supper is followed by our evening activity. This is usually when the director and I get some time to ourselves to shower and take a break from the chaos. When we ‘return’ (neither of us actually leave site) we discuss anything that we need to bring up at the counsellor meeting that night and revisit our to do lists for the day/week.
8:00 -9:30 p.m. – We have snack and then it’s time for the campers to start winding down and getting ready for bed. We have a counselor meeting to pass along information then follow up and check in with counselors individually.
9:30 – 10:30 p.m. – Organizing and preparing as much as possible for the next day!

10:30 p.m. – Most days the camp/work day ends here, although anything can happen and the day could last a long longer if there’s work that needs to be done!

What do you love most about it?

I love that I’m helping to provide a place where campers are exposed to an environment full of people who are there to support and encourage them. I love that I get to facilitate new experiences (often for both campers and counselors). I love that no day is ever the same and there are constant opportunities to learn and be creative.

What do you hate most about it?

The biggest downside to my current position is that because I work for a non-profit organization the budget is tight. I work on a contractual basis based on current budgets and grant money. I am guaranteed work beginning in mid May lasting until the end of August, but after that I could (and have) found myself essentially unemployed. Last year the organization received a grant that allowed me to work from February until October but then I was laid off until this coming May. It has nothing to do with shortage of work and everything to do with budget constraints. Even when I’m not officially employed by camp I still spend some of my spare time working on camp related things. I have been really fortunate to be able to work other contract jobs during the periods of time away from camp. This allows me to pay the bills but still keep working towards my goal of working at a camp full time.

What’s the coolest thing that ever happened to you at work?

I could go on for days sharing camp stories! It’s impossible to pick a true favorite.

What strengths do you think are necessary for someone to be successful at this job?

The best camp directors are people who enjoy problem solving and work well under pressure.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone who’s looking to pursue this as a career? 

The camp community is very close knit. Start volunteering (or working) at camps in your area and making connections. So often I hear of job or volunteer opportunities through other camp folks that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about because they were not publicly advertised. When it comes to directing a camp knowledge is power become certified in anything that might give you a leg up. In addition to my degree in recreation I also have certifications in first aid, canoeing, healthy childhood development, food safety and program evaluation.


Connect with Donna on any of her social media accounts:

Blog: Grace & Galoshes (http://graceandgaloshes.blogspot.com)

Bloglovin': http://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/grace-galoshes-7386449

Email: [email protected]

Instagram: https://instagram.com/donna032/

Top 10 Career Mistakes Twentysomethings Should Avoid

Top 10 Career Mistakes Twentysomethings Should Avoid

1. Believing that once you’ve got a job, you’re done learning.

2. Thinking there’s nothing you can learn from someone who can be your grandpa.

3. Turning down networking opportunities to go drinking with your friends.

4. Thinking that the tasks asked of you at work are somehow beneath you.

5. Engaging in negative office gossip.

6. Staying at a job you hate way too long without actively looking for other opportunities.

7. Not being honest with yourself about your likes and dislikes when it comes to your career.

8. Not taking the time to fully understand your strengths and weaknesses.

9. Making enemies at work for stupid reasons.

10. Compromising your morals and beliefs because you feel pressured to be liked.

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Career Series No. 3 – Digital Marketing/Recruitment

Digital Marketing Recruitment

Hi everyone! Welcome to Week #3 of my new  Gen Y Girl Career Series. Today, my friend Rowan is sharing some of her work experience with us… and it’s pretty awesome!

(Rowan’s from the UK, so feel free to read this entire post in a British accent! LOL)


What did you want to be when you were growing up and why?

I actually always assumed I would be famous! I can’t act, dance or sing particularly well.. I just assumed that I would be famous and would never have to worry about having a complicated career! I dreamed and still dream of being a psychologist. I am doing a psychology degree but this is mainly out of curiosity :)

What is your current job?

I currently work in recruitment, specifically digital marketing and ecommerce. After being the Office Manager for about 7 months, I changed roles to be in Business Development – this means that I find business for my company and I find people for the roles we have.

How did you land that position?

I mass applied for “Office” roles – I wasn’t fussy about what they were exactly – I was just desperate to be out of retail! I got an email straight back saying that they loved my CV but wanted me to do an Un-CV – this was a CV that showed them who I really was. I thought this was the most fun task I had ever had to do – I did this via pinterest – here it is! They loved that too and I got the job!

What does a typical day at work look like for you?    

I get to work at about 8.40am and I browse through Linkedin for any relevant news and updates whilst I drink my tea. Then at 9am, I start finding potential jobs for my work and potential people for our vacancies. Basically, I have to call potential clients and basically sell our services to them. We are a really niche digital marketing recruitment agency so we can help with vacancies that companies are having real difficulties filling. I break for an hour at lunch – this is dedicated to eating and updating my blog! A typical day finishes at 5.30pm. 

What do you love most about it? 

I love that I am mainly my own boss – I do my own thing and I am in control of my work load.

What do you hate most about it? 

My job is fairly unstable – if I don’t find the company work, I can loose my job. Finding the company work is not always easy – not only do I have to find the jobs, but I have to get other companies to want to work with us and be willing to pay our high fees. Also, I HATE sales – I never wanted to be in a sales position and I find myself making lots of salesy calls.

What’s the coolest thing that ever happened to you at work?

When I worked in a supermarket, I was a first aider, along with a few other colleagues – to cut a really long story short, an elderly gentleman had a heart attack in the car park whilst he was in his car, attempting to go home. I worked with my colleagues to save his life. Sadly, the man did die a week later in hospital, but what we did that day gave his family a chance to say goodbye.

I am now engaged to the other first aider that helped me :)

What strengths do you think are necessary for someone to be successful at this job?

In any job – it is a positive attitude. You CAN do anything and everything. There is nothing stopping you, but you!

What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone who’s looking to pursue this as a career? 

If you want to work in recruitment – get ready for it. It is a whirlwind of fun, sales, rejection, knowledge and confusion! I have enjoyed it but I have also lost sleep over it.

I feel really passionately about this topic – at 25, I have changed careers twice and I am about to embark on a totally new career! I have always felt rushed to find the right career asap! I am starting to learn that there is no rush. Find the career that is right for you! This is key. From 16, I worked in retail – it was the easiest career path to have at this stage as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to study further. I ended up giving up my studies and continuing with a retail career! By 20, I was a manager and by 23, a deputy store manager. Honestly – I hated it. I got so wrapped up in my career that a change didn’t even occur to me! After a few months of working 80 hour weeks and hardly seeing anyone but my colleagues and customers, I decided to get my resume out there! I got a few call backs and a few interviews, but as I was already employed – I was fussy :)

In the UK, kids are expected to almost know what they want to do for the rest of their lives at 14 – when they are expected to choose what they want to study for the next two years of school. At 16 – you decide whether you want to go to “college” (not university, it’s like the last two years of high school). After that, you attend university. The pressure that kids must feel to know what they want to do is unbearable. For me, it was easier to abandon my education and get straight into finding a career.

You need to remember that YOU are the most important person to please. If your parents want you to be a doctor and you want to be a journalist – you need to listen to your heart. The best career for you might be stacking shelves at your local supermarket or a brain surgeon. As long as YOU are happy doing it – it’s the best career for you.

“If you are not happy, move. You are not a tree”

Rowan Funning Up My Life

Connect with Rowan on any of her social media accounts:

  1. www.funningupmylife.co.uk
  2. http://www.twitter.com/funningupmylife
  3. http://www.facebook.com/funningupmylife
  4. https://www.pinterest.com/funningupmylife
  5. https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/funning-up-my-life-13638167
  6. http://instagram.com/funningupmylife
  7. [email protected]

Thanks for checking out Week #3! If you’d like to participate, fill out the contact form HERE and let me know why you’d like to be a part of this adventure!

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