A recent grad, Emma Koza is no stranger to the Toronto Hustle. In her mini-series, Breaking into the Real World, Koza will explore how she intends to stand out from the throngs of other job-hungry millennials, all fighting for position in the working world. ICYMI, check out Part 1 of her mini-series here.
My mom tells me that my generation’s idea of wanting to find fulfillment in their work is ridiculous and unrealistic. “Work is work,” she says. “People have jobs so that they can live.” I know there is truth to that, but like the idealistic Gen-Y-er that I am, I can’t accept that what she said is true for me.
I was frustrated with how things were going in my professional life. I felt like the system had failed me. I didn’t know what direction I was going in and feelings of anger and confusion started to turn into apathy. I was scared that my lofty aspirations of becoming a writer/filmmaker wouldn’t pan out. I hated the idea of ending up in a job that felt like nothing but a way to pay the rent, and though I wasn’t quite ready to give up on my dreams, I realized I had to redefine what they were.
So with a glass of cheap red wine, a pen and a piece of scrap paper, I started to make lists of all things that were important for me to have at a job, what I think my strengths are and how I want to spend my working day.
My lists were a mix of specific details and general ideas. I knew I wanted a job that would allow for collaboration and independent work. I wrote down that I am detail orientated, enjoy problem solving and need room to be creative. Most importantly I wanted to find work that would allow me to contribute to society in a way that is positive and constructive and that would allow for continuous growth. I didn’t think of front-end development as an option before but it checked all of the boxes and soon it became the obvious choice.
Although my university education was valuable, I didn’t gain any hard tangible skills from it. I can communicate, work well with others and write a mean thesis statement about feminist film theory or the repercussions of orientalism, but I felt I had nothing real or tangible to offer. Learning a hard skill gives me the necessary confidence to enter the working world with a sense of security and control.
Receiving my letter of acceptance to the fully immersive boot-camp program at Toronto’s HackerYou was the first time since graduating high school that I felt like I could see what lies ahead of me. Becoming a front-end developer isn’t going to be the answer for everyone but I urge anyone feeling confused or stuck like I was to find the thing that makes sense to them.
Start thinking about what you want to do, how you want to do it and why it’s important to you. Write it all down and make a list so you will be able to weigh the pros and cons of different opportunities and choose a direction that makes your heart sing.
Planning for your future and figuring out what you want your life to look like in two/five/ten years isn’t giving up on your dreams. It’s defining them.