Hi readers. My name is Hélène, originally from The Netherlands but living in Denmark. In 2022, I met Mariëlle through my traineeship. At the time, I worked together with her social media team to help create content for her website and social media pages. We are now a year later and I am taking my next career step. In this blog, I would like to share my journey with you.
From pivot to purpose
‘Tell me, what would you like to be when you grow up?’ A question everyone got asked at least once in their childhood. An easy one to answer – as a kid at least (Did anyone else want to become a dragonologist, or was that just me?). But when we reach adulthood, we come to realize that this question is, in fact, difficult. For me personally, it sometimes touches upon the ultimate philosophical question: Who am I?
Now this might sound dramatic, I agree. But we shouldn’t forget that for most of us, work fills up a big part of our lives. So why not take some time to find what we actually enjoy doing? Not only at the start but also during and at the end of our career. In life, we change, and so do our interests, ambitions, and goals.
After graduating high school I was very sure of my career path: I would become a lawyer. I was 18 years old, slightly intrigued by the series ‘Suits’ and very much into debating and writing essays. However, halfway through my studies, I started to doubt my decision. It was not that I had no interest in my courses or that I did not like the idea of being a lawyer anymore. Something was gnawing and telling me that there were more professions to explore.
To be honest, I tried to repress this feeling as much as I could at the time. It absolutely did not fit into my ‘life-plan’. I was utterly convinced that I had to stick to the career path I had chosen for myself right after high school. So, I kept my head high and finished my education. But the funny thing about repressing feelings is that they will always come back. Time after time after time. Until you give them space.
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In 2021 I finally decided to listen to this feeling. ‘Fine’, I said to myself. ‘What do you want then?’. I looked back at everything I had done during my studies and found that up until then I had the most joy in my student job where I helped high schoolers with homework, planning, and general coaching. So naturally, teaching would be a good first profession to explore.
An extra layer of adventure was added to this career pivot as my boyfriend and I decided to move to Copenhagen, Denmark. I had found an International school there where I could work as a class assistant. It was a great way for me to get to learn more about Denmark, while also getting to know a lot of other internationals. I discovered that most teachers there, in some way or another, had also pivoted their careers at some point in life – for many different reasons. Some because they moved to Denmark for love and they had to adjust to the Danish job market. Others because they felt it was their purpose to become a teacher and help the next generation to become happy open-minded citizens.
During my time at the school, I learned two things. First of all, standing in front of a classroom with 25 teenagers staring back at you takes a lot of guts and is not for the weak. Second, although I did enjoy coaching and helping students one on one, being a teacher full-time, was not for me.
A big jump
I was slightly disappointed in myself. For some reason, I thought I would have found my ultimate career path in one go. Many loved ones of mine succeeded in finding their dream careers early on. Why wasn’t I able to do that? What I did learn though was that standing still and waiting for some kind of ‘career revelation’ was pointless. As writers sometimes say: ‘The muse comes while writing, not before’. I think the same goes for finding the right career path. It will come to you while you try out different things.
With this in mind, I jumped into a new opportunity: Marketing. By coincidence, I had found a traineeship which later turned into full-time employment within a young company that worked with digital marketing platforms. A completely new terrain for me. Again, I got to know a lot of new, interesting, and kind people, including Mariëlle. I had to learn on the go and did not have much time to overthink. Which in my case, was a good learning opportunity.
For a long time, I felt like an alien that had just been dropped off on planet Earth, desperately trying to pretend it was human. People were talking enthusiastically about subjects I had never heard of before. In a notebook, I kept a tracker. For each meeting, I would write down what was discussed and how much I understood from that meeting in total. In the beginning, this was maybe 10%. It was not the kind of job you could master by reading through documentation or following training. Therefore, I accepted the fact I had to follow a different approach. Trial and error. Overcoming my fear of being perceived as ‘dumb’ and asking lots of questions. And after a while, slowly but surely, the percentages in my notebook started to go up.
This process on its own was a valuable lesson for me. Although I didn’t continue in this specific field, I did conquer a lot of fears and insecurities. If I had stayed in my comfort zone, I would have never experienced that.
Who am I?
Now it’s ‘back to the drawing table’, as I like to call it. I am looking back at my past work/study experience, and trying to list all the things I liked doing in the past years. During my studies, I loved doing research. During my time as a teacher, I enjoyed being a coach for kids who needed some extra motivation and support. As a marketing consultant, I got really excited about creating videos, copywriting, and helping clients understand their platforms better. It is of course difficult to find a job that ticks all your boxes. However, having a clear understanding of what practical tasks you like doing can help a lot in exploring new career options. You may be surprised!
Another thing I discovered when going through my career pivot is this. The things you liked doing as a child say a lot about what you enjoy doing as an adult. Now, I am not saying that I still walk around the neighborhood looking for dragon trails… But I still do really like to read and write fantasy stories. And I am not creating videos with my teddy bear being the star of the show anymore. But I do like creating ideas for educational videos. Usually, the hobbies you had as a kid are not that different from the interests you have now. So when pivoting your career, make some room for your inner child as well.
Circling back now to the beginning of this blog. I mentioned that for me, finding out what you want in your career sometimes touches upon the question of who am I? What I mean by this is the following. Wanting to change your career path could mean many different things. When talking about this subject, we usually think about quitting our current job to find what we are looking for in a new job. It is good to realize though, that sometimes we want things that cannot be found within jobs. In that case, changing your career path could also mean making more time for your hobbies. Spending more time with your loved ones. Creating more space in your life to finally start on that business idea you had for years.
And this is why, in my opinion, it is so important to not only think about what you want in a job, but about what you want from life in general. Who are you? And what makes you happy? How can your career pivot help you to achieve your life’s purpose? Once you get a clear(er) answer to those questions there is only one thing left to do. Take a deep breath, be brave, and jump.
Would you like some help taking the jump? Then don’t forget to get in touch with Mariëlle.