Friday, September 30, 2016

Using my new job to get to my dream job

I'm trying on the idea of talking about my dream job and really trying to make it a reality. The idea has been forming over the last several months and I've talked about it with a few trusted people, but I haven't really committed to it. I'm starting to think seriously, and put into writing, how I can use my new job to get to my dream job.

I've spent a month now in my new position. I'm still swimming in names and acronyms and trying to find my footing. It's in a new field for me where I'm outside my comfort zone and expect to learn quite a bit. I'll get to travel a LOT more than in my last job—I have 3 big trips in the next 3 months! But the best thing about my new position is that it's temporary (1-2 years) and they expect us to make use of the time, connections, and opportunities to find our next career move.

So I have this dream job that grew out of my last job. I can imagine all of these ways in which I could help expand and grow this movement and community that I'm really invested in. I think it would be personally satisfying and fun, but there's no one (that I know of right now) who can hire me to do this. Part of the task would be finding the funding to make it possible, which sounds stressful and insecure from a purely financial perspective. I'd be something like an entrepreneur, but more like for a non-profit (turns out non-profit entrepreneurs are a thing). I wouldn't be starting something new, but I'd be trying to make an existing thing much bigger. I think I can do it, but I'm also slightly afraid of the amount of responsibility I would take on and the influence I'd have.

There are two big ways in which I can leverage my current position to set myself up for my dream job. The first is by gaining a better understanding of the funding environment and opportunities. The second is to learn more about different organizational structures to determine what would be best to implement at the dream job. Additionally, I have the freedom and support to explore the broader community and make useful connections in other organizations.

The dilemma I've had recently is that this is, in some ways, a very narrow vision for what I could do with my skills, especially considering all of the professional connections that I'll make in this new position. I'm afraid to some extent of pigeon-holing myself by not thinking more broadly. I know that my current job will open doors and likely lead to opportunities that I can't even imagine right now.

Still, it's been a long time since I've had such a clear vision of what I want. When I decided to go to grad school, my goal was to become a professor at a small liberal arts college. I knew that goal might change, but the goal gave me something to aim for. Perhaps I should think of this the same way. The only problem is that I'll surely have to close metaphorical doors at some point on the road to my dream job or risk letting people down and hindering the movement rather than helping it.

I hope the necessary vagueness of my descriptions still convey the essence of what I'm thinking through. It always helps me to blog it through. Suggestions welcome!