How I Landed My Dream Job
I’ve worked at nonprofits, as a teacher (briefly), and producing legal newsletters. But it wasn’t until I thought about what I really wanted that I landed my dream job as an associate editor at VegNews magazine. I wanted to share this story because I know how hard it is do what we really want to do. It’s much easier to settle. Settle for a paycheck. Settle for a job we don’t mind, but don’t love.
I moved to LA to be with my then-fiancé, now husband from NYC. I hated LA at first. But it kicked my butt. I got a high-paying job at an education nonprofit, but I was miserable. After I quit, I didn’t know where to look next but one thing I did know was that I wasn’t going to work any more where I was unhappy. So I made a list of my dream jobs. When I was a kid, I wanted to be the editor-in-chief of People magazine. I made my mom a magazine for Mother’s Day when I was little. I loved reading magazines. So I enrolled in some basic magazine writing classes and started pitching. I found an editorial assistant position at a trade photography magazine, Rangefinder, and learned magazines from the ground up. Then we moved again. Brendan landed his dream job at Lucasfilms and I was once again confronted with what did I want to do. I freelanced and took the time to expand my portfolio. Then my dream job opened up. As soon as I saw the job listing on Craigslist for an associate editor at VegNews, I ran home and typed up a cover letter and sent my resume. I got an interview, then was asked to write up some ideas. I spent my entire weekend working on them. I had my friend Rita edit my work. I knew that every word mattered. When you’re applying for an editor position, it doesn’t look great when you don’t even edit your own work. So after a third interview, I landed the job. I love it. It’s hard work but every day I’m challenged, I’m writing, and I help put together a fantastic magazine.
I didn’t get here easily. I’m still writing and freelancing while balancing a full-time job. But I couldn’t ask for anything better.
I spent quite a few years post-college working at places that didn’t fulfill me. I had doubts. I dealt with rejections, and definitely made mistakes. The pinnacle moment for me happened when I was jobless, lonely, and new to LA. Brendan was on the WGA writers’ strike. We had no income, two cars, and were planning a wedding. I went out for a walk. I was frustrated. Then I saw an entire unopened package of paper sitting on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked up the ream of a paper. I saw it as a sign. I had to get back to writing. No matter what. A month later, I got my first magazine job and sold a pitch to Every Day with Rachael Ray.
It’s hard to be a writer. Some times it can be lonely. It takes discipline. I’ve cried over rejections and wanted to quit. But I hung in there. And so should you. Whatever your dream job is, work towards it and take it one step at a time. You can do it.
UPDATE (3/22/11): I’ve been so amazed how much this post has really struck a chord with people. I’ve gotten so many positive responses. So thank you for reading. I hope what I’ve said sticks with you and that you will continue to pursue your dreams no matter what.