You've done everything you can to get the right education and credentials.
You've networked and put yourself out there TO THE MAX.
You've applied to dozens or even hundreds of places, and the door keeps getting shut in your face.
You know what your life mission is and that you'd rock it...if only someone could see your potential and just give you a chance.
I know where you've been, because I've been there too.
What if that job -- or even this season of unemployment -- was the vehicle God/the universe was using to allow you to do all the world-changing things you want to do?
I lived in Colombia at the height of the Pablo Escobar era and saw first-hand the impact narcoterrorism had on a really beautiful country and culture. Even back in the 90s, severed heads and public killings were commonplace. People on motorcycles were required to wear vests with unique numbers on them, because pairs on bikes were a common tactic used to assassinate anyone who stood in the way of the cartels. I was committed to being a tool to end the drug trade and would do everything in my power to become an intelligence officer.
I went to Penn State and double majored in Latin American Studies and Crime, Law, and Justice. And when it came time to accept an assignment in the Air Force, I got – Personnel (HR in civilian terms)! *wah waaaah* I cried ugly snot bubble tears but stayed committed to my dream. I discovered USSOUTHCOM had two Personnel deployment slots every six months, so I called the assignments guy and offered my services. He told me I was too junior and wait a year until I got promoted. A year later, I called him back. He said he already had designated two folks to go. I called that poor man every six months and got turned away every time. I gave it up after a few years. I never did get to fight on a counterdrug mission in South America.
Eventually I became an agent (a separate crazy story for another day, but it was not a job I wanted initially) and got the dreaded HQ assignment. I get to Quantico and find myself in a huge empty office with only three other analysts. We were on a separate floor physically separated from the main unit I worked with. No one knew we were there. And the phone was definitely not ringing for our services.
“Who did you piss off?” a fellow agent asked. “All your predecessors got blacklisted and their careers died at this assignment.”
I had no idea who I had angered, but I was in one of two jobs I swore at the academy I would never do. I thought the mission was boring, and I hardly new anything about how to run counterintelligence cases and operations so my imposter syndrome was also loud in my head (super fun!). I gave myself space to pity-party a little bit at the thought that “my career was over.” But then I did the only thing I could do: picked myself back up and tried to learn a technical job as best as possible so I could serve the hardworking field agents as best as I could.
And you know what? I can clearly see in hindsight how a couple of those "crappy jobs" worked out in my favor in the long term.
- Intel is a really hard career to get released from in the Air Force. I know, because I’ve tried to recruit MANY intelligence folks to become agents only to be told by their functional that they would not authorize the release. Had I become an intel officer, I never likely would've become an agent
- I also got to observe intelligence officers. And while they do amazing work, they weren’t doing the type of hands-on work I really craved. But being hands-on was something I did every day as an agent (mad love to my intel peeps)
- That dreaded HQ assignment turned out to be my favorite one! I worked with the most creative and amazing people, and I got to be a tool to cut through some DC red tape so the field was better enabled to solve cases and protect our nation. That little forgotten office on the separate floor ended up getting so much demand for products, we had to hire 8 more intelligence analysts to keep up with demand. That phone that never rang when I got there was ringing so much by the time I left, I wished it would stop. I also met my best friends still to this day
- Over a decade later, I still run into agents who tell me some intelligence product we created or tool we got for them helped turn the tide on a case
- I got promoted early as a result of that HQ assignment
- I learned how to incorporate intelligence analysis into operational planning and still teach agents and analysts how to better work together to obtain better mission outcomes with more efficiency (and more joy, because who doesn’t like WINNING?!)
I could write another 10 pages on how I can now clearly see that every job (and there were more than just these two) I never wanted was preparing me for the important work I have done and continue to do. Work that gives me true joy and fulfillment. You are allowed to be frustrated. Give yourself a time limit, then dust yourself off and search for the lesson. Every experience you ever have has a lesson waiting for you to learn. And guess what? If you don't learn it now, the lesson will come back over and over and over again. Until you learn it.
But today, for the person who has tried everything to get out of that crappy job you hate, what if this job was the exact right place for you to change the world in the only way you can? What would shift for you?
Would love to chat with anyone who wants to explore this question more or needs some support today. Book your virtual coffee here: https://calendly.com/event_types/149100608/edit?return_to=%2Fevent_types%2Fuser%2Fme