Today, I was asked by a senior leader to give some career advice to his daughter.
I was a little taken aback for two main reasons – one, I haven’t been asked this question for a long (and I mean long) time, and secondly, I am not your typical kind of role model to be asking for career advice from. Since the time I graduated back in 2007, I start off at the Singapore Exchange, before moving on to Singapore Airlines, then to HSBC. In 3 years, I decided once and for all that the corporate scene wasn’t for me, and left the bank to focus on the business (Dressabelle) that I founded full-time. Fast-forward another 3 years, I left my business and decided to join a startup where I still got to drive my own project. And unbeknown to some of you, I am currently serving the last month of notice with my current company.
Yes, it was a fun 1 year or so managing the Data Innovation Challenge (DEXTRA) platform with Newton Circus, but you know when your time is up, and you’re ready to move on. And I am sincerely more than ready to move on to my next gig, which I hope even more sincerely will be the gig I stick on to for the rest of my life. I am sure the role will evolve with time as I grow with the company, but I do want to it to be my last gig. It’s that little voice that speaks to you from within you. For those of you who are more touchy-feely like me, maybe you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Anyway, I know I have digressed, so back to the career advice bit of this entry. The best advice I can give is really to just take it easy in our first few jobs. Most of us don’t end end up being the lucky few who hit the career jackpot and retire in the same company as the one they first joined. Also, you’ll be in for a rude shock when you realise amost nothing you learnt in university is applicable or that useful at work, and also that your “dream” job feels quite like one of the nightmares you only read/hear about.
So just get into any job with an open mind. Learn whatever you can, and do so with humility and a good attitude. Even if the job doesn’t end up being what you expected it to be and you (like me) find yourself in a situation where you’re serving your last month of notice, what you’ve picked up for yourself are some new skills, and also a deeper understanding of what you want and (especially) do not want to do in your next gig. As you go along, the dream job you are seeking will start to take a more solid shape in your mind, instead of it being just a fluffy cotton candy ball.
Some may say that it’s just a way of comforting myself on my supposed “colourful” (read: inconsistent) job history. But honestly? I see how everything is working together, and how every experience and skill I’ve picked up along the way is actually preparing me for the role I am moving into. And lastly, I feel so much closer to finally getting my dream job.