By Pauline France
One of the first questions people ask upon meeting me is, “How did you land your dream job at Fender?” It’s generally followed by, “Did you know anyone there?” The short answers are resilience, and no. For the longer answer, keep scrolling.
For some background, I was actually still in college when I had secured a paid internship at Fender (that eventually turned into a full-time job) waiting for me upon graduation. Best. Graduation. Prezi. Ever.
So here’s how I did it:
1) I took my time. We’re expected to know what we want to be when we “grow up” and what we want to major in in college by the time we hit 17. Like, really? I don’t know about you, but when I was that age I could barely decide what I wanted to eat for breakfast.
All I knew is that I wanted to pursue something having to do with music, all while not allowing society’s clock – the one that says you have to be done with college when you’re 21 – to faze me.
All in all, it took me eight years to finish college, so if you’re on your 5th year of higher education and your pals are about to graduate, don’t sweat it…because everybody’s timing is different – and that includes yours.
2) I didn’t settle. I scoured through the entire class catalogue in college, exploring all majors with relentless curiosity. I mean, this is a HUGE decision, right? Just like your life partner and marriage, this major is going to be with you forever, so I had to choose wisely.
At one point, I thought about majoring in linguistics, anthropology, and even chemistry. I explored them all, and opted for music education, but six years into it, I had a change of heart…
3) I was true to myself. What it came down to was that I couldn’t envision myself teaching tuba in a classroom for the rest of my life (love you tuba teachers – you are courageous and we need you in this world).
And despite the fact that I had already invested (key word: invested – not wasted) six precious years of my life into this major, I started the quest for joy from scratch.
This was super exciting, but I couldn’t do it alone…
4) …So I asked for help. A lot of help. I probably spent just as much time with career counselors and teachers as I did in class.
I sought out mentors and bombarded them with questions, until one of them, my dear communications professor, Linda Hensley, asked, “Pauline, why don’t you major in public relations?” “Public wha?,” I asked. I’d never heard of that before, but she said I was a natural, so I looked into it, and was suddenly smitten.
And that’s when I made it official: I changed my major to journalism with an emphasis in public relations. Oh, and remember those six years I spent learning advanced music theory and performance? They helped me get through college by teaching guitar lessons and are paying dividends to this day.
5) I networked like my life depended on it. Because it does. As I’ve mentioned before, regardless of what industry you go into, it’s not only who you know, it’s who knows you.
The difference between me and some of my classmates was that they graduWAITED and started networking after school.
By the time I graduated I had more internships under my belt than I can remember. Internships are the new entry-level jobs, so if by the time you graduate you don’t have at least three or four meaningful internships on your resumé, don’t expect to get a call back from your dream employer right away (or at all).
I also joined all the groups imaginable in college – even groups far removed from what I was majoring in, like the Earth Science Club (yes, I’m a self-proclaimed nerd), and had wonderful experiences and made life-long friends.
6) I visualized myself there. Yeah, that’s right. I imagined things that weren’t quite materialized, but I visualized them such fervent devotion over an extended period of time, that I manifested it. This sounds crazy, but it’s so powerful, I wrote its very own article about it.
So if your dream job is to work at the corporate headquarters for Lego, imagine yourself sitting at your desk surrounded by Lego blocks. Google what the corporate headquarters look like, and see yourself strutting in and out of that building like a boss… and then give it time.
7) I didn’t sweat the small stuff. You’re going to have setbacks. You’re going to have awful teachers. You’re going to get bad grades, experience break-ups, survive off processed foods, be broke, and the list goes on. None of this matters.
Your awful teachers? Thank them, for they have taught you how to deal with awful bosses in the future. Bad grades? They don’t matter. I’m not telling you to be a conformist and strive for F’s, but no employer of mine has ever asked me for my transcripts. Break-ups? Thank whoever broke your heart, for they are no longer in your way. Low on cash? Don’t follow the money; that comes later. The real wealth lies in waking up every day to do what you love.
So whether you’re in high school or college, or are well-into your career and are having a wake-up call realizing you’re unhappy with the career path you’ve chosen: this is for you.
And regardless, what applies to everybody is that you have to act now. In the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”