Six months have passed since I started actively looking for a new job. So this topic of changing the career path got my interest big time as this most recent period has not been easy at all – both from the financial and psychological point of view.
When the “young & restless” gets eventually tired
My background is in entrepreneurship. In the past six years, I’ve been focused on making my (or others) great ideas happen. Sexy you might think. True. But difficult as hell, I would add. Well, not really “hell”, because I liked the difficulty of it. I guess it is part of my personality to always take the challenging rides rather than the easy, comfortable paths.
If you’ve lived through this, you know that this kind of lifestyle is super rewarding in terms of the skills you have the opportunity to develop and the experiences you get to face in order to become a more valuable individual. Both professionally and personally speaking.
But the same kind of lifestyle gets really tricky when you look at the financial part.
In my case, I’ve chosen not to focus at all on this part and to invest everything that I had (money, time, knowledge) in the projects I’ve been part of. This worked, for a while. Now, I find myself at that point in my life where I’m looking for growth from another point of view, which I call “stability”.
I’m turning 30 this August, so I figure this is the right moment to start investing in a sustainable way of living.
Crossing the “bridge of change”
Switching from an entrepreneurial path to a regular employee one is pretty much walking on a thin rope in a balanced manner, not really knowing how long it’s gonna take you to reach a stable ground – called symbolically “the other side”.
One of the biggest challenges of this ride was keeping my head up and my confidence level high. I had a clear goal that I was trying to achieve, but I was also in a context that was not quite favorable to my mission.
OK, time to put on your “whatever it takes don’t give up” coat, lady!
How do you stay positive about the outcome if pretty much everybody is discouraging you?
For my new career, I was aiming for something that will challenge me, something that will make my skills and experience worthwhile. I was dreaming to get interviewed by someone that will appreciate my background and understand my potential, rather than looking into ticking some boxes in a job description.
The people that I was talking to, including HR persons that were interviewing me said “Your experience is really impressive, but you don’t really fit our profile.” It seemed that the companies that I’ve reached didn’t look for courageous people like myself, persons that ask for more responsibilities and ready to start learning whatever they don’t know yet.
I’ve considered my experience super valuable, especially because I’ve exposed myself to an environment that few people on the market did. So I guess the salary I was asking for was above the usual requests of the local market – especially comparing to the ones that come from female applicants. “It’s very unlikely to achieve this in Romania, you’ll see” people kept advising me.
Really? I refused to believe that, and I was constantly saying it to everybody: “I’m sure I will achieve this if I’m worth it. And I believe I am, I just need to find the right company that will be curious enough to evaluate my potential.”
And I stayed confident. I had patience, and I stayed confident. Three months later I still had patience, but I started struggling with staying confident. Because there are harder days, of course, when you feel like you’re losing it.
Meditation, sports, and sex were equally helpful to keep my confidence level up 😛
So how do you manage patience when you need to pay your bills?
I know this sounds pretty corporate, but… it’s cost-cutting. Or a minimalist lifestyle, how I like to describe it :)) I changed my way of living, adapting it to a very small budget. I rented a room into a shared flat, I started home-cooking with no exceptions, I was shopping less and improvising more, I went out only for business meetings, I was attending only free events and I stayed away from spending money by going out unnecessarily.
I was very lucky to get a little, yet enough financial support from my parents – so I can avoid getting a part-time shitty job in order to survive in Bucharest. But on the other hand, I did get engaged in very small freelance projects that came to me and that I couldn’t afford to turn down. Yet, I was not actively looking for these jobs as I didn’t want people to perceive me as a freelancer.
My goal was to get employed and I wanted to make it clear to everyone. Including the Universe.
How do you know that you eventually… will make it happen?
You don’t. But you can make yourself and others believe that you will not give up until you make it happen your way. And you stick to that. You must not sit and wait though, but constantly do small steps towards your goal. Some of them might seem too small, or too unimportant, but believe me, they are key. They’ll keep you going and that’s crucial in a context of not-giving-up.
Fortunately, I had my close ones that believed in me and my decisions. “That company that will recognize how valuable you are is out there and probably already looking for you. Just make sure that you are discoverable” my boyfriend was constantly saying.
I had a killer CV that in two months most probably reached hundreds of people. My “trick” was to design it cool enough so anyone could feel OK with forwarding it, and feel kinda proud to recommend me.
You always have more resources that you can imagine
I got everybody on board: I had my boyfriend always advising me, my parents that were very supportive mentally and financially, my brother that was facilitating meetings in the HR area, friends that were forwarding my CV, friends of friends willing to help and curious to meet me over a coffee and understand what am I looking for. All my close network knew that I’m looking for an amazing job and they were happy to somehow help me achieve my goal. I had no idea that I’m able to get so much support, from so many sources.
Having constant openness and support really makes a difference in your confidence levels, but you must ask for it. If you have a positive attitude, more people than you imagine are available to help you. And then you’ll face those days when you feel that “nothing is actually happening today, am I gonna make it?” And then an email comes in with someone making a super-cute intro to one of the companies on your shortlist.
“Aye! Keep it rolling, girl! You are going to make it!”
The gentle support from the super ladies
In our last Club meeting, we approached the career path topic and the challenges we face when changing it. So many things to talk about, that two and a half hours didn’t feel enough. Most probably a second meeting on this topic will be organized in the future, but till then, you might be interested to attend our next club night out – My sex life. I never talk about it.
Here are some of the questions that we threw on the table for “Changing my career path – what scares me”:
1. Would you consider an advantage or disadvantage women to be interviewed by other women?
2. Who/what influences your career choice? For example – family, money, peers, you, other? What influence do they have over your choice?
3. When looking for new job opportunities, tell us that something super important that you SHOULDN’T do as a woman.
What about picking one, take a moment to reflect, and share your answer in the comment section? It might inspire someone, or at least encourage someone to take a moment to reflect as well. Thanks for contributing!
PS: Forgot to mention how the lovely GWC evening started with Daria’s idea to take 30 sec each to tell a WIN from the past week. I was happy to announce that I finally got a job offer that reached my expectations! YES, it’s happening!
I’m getting the job that I’ve been actively waiting for! I cannot describe how nervous and proud I was to share this with my community of ladies, and then to see how honestly happy they felt for me…
Thanks, girls! I am really grateful to have you all around!
Oana & the gentle ladies gang