You’re in a dead-end assistant job. There’s no way to move up, even if you had a ladder in your cubicle. Every day, you eat half a box of dark chocolate covered espresso beans because the people that tell you to do things get paid so much more than you, yet they sometimes ask you to do their job for them (which just involves Googling). How is this OK? How do you stand up for yourself? What can you do to get out of this rut?
Start thinking for yourself. Sometimes, being an assistant comes with perks like free coffees that you, yourself, have to pick up. Or, you get to shine for a minute or two by being credited for finding a great lunch meeting restaurant spot for your boss. Most of the time though, you are lifting things and keeping track of another person’s life. Yes, being an assistant is sometimes the only way to start a career, but sometimes, the job leads to you losing track of what you want to do with YOUR life. Think about what’s important to you. What do you care about? Put it on your vision board with some glitter glue pens. The real question you need to ask yourself is, do I want to be doing the tasks that I’m doing? Be honest with yourself.
Create jobs for yourself. What do you see yourself doing ten years from now? Twenty years from now? Thirty years from now? And so on. Is your sixty-year old self telling you that you really messed up? Stop thinking of “starting” to do something. As Nike says, “just do it”. Do you want to write? Do you want to install solar panels on houses and save the environment? Start taking classes. Work outside of work. Work on things you want to do WHILE working. Maybe work for free on weekends with people you want to eventually be working with full-time. I know, work is really hard. You get tired and all you want to do after a long day in an office is watch Monk on Netflix. You’re going to be a lot more energized if you go to a class right after work and become a self-employed individual in eight years rather than waiting till you’re fifty. My dad always says, “Health is your wealth”. If the job you’re currently in is making you nuts, consider “investing in yourself” as a step towards “mental health”, which would then give you WEALTH. Yay! Metaphorical math involving rhyming!
DIY an MBA to start a career you want to be doing. Even if you can’t afford an MBA, why not make a list of skills you need to learn to do the job you want to be doing? This is an example of a DIY MBA program I found having to do with creating your own business. This is an example of books you should read that have to do with various specializations. CreativeLIVE is a site of “free online workshops taught by wordclass experts”. Sign up! Read books and articles that give you the skills necessary to do what you want to do. Email people you admire or want to work with. See what they did to get where they are now. Afraid those “important” people will think you’re a stalker if you contact them? Then why do they have a Twitter and Tumblr account? The worst that can happen is they don’t email you back. With the internet, you can learn how to do anything you want. If you don’t have the self-discipline and you want to be held accountable, sign up for classes at a city college. Get a certificate. Volunteer to intern at a company you believe in even if it pays nothing. Do you believe you’re worth the time and energy to learn more than what you know now? Well, you should. The mind stops at nothing. Take a leap of faith.
Put yourself out there like a net and opportunities will come flying like fish. What talents do you have? What do you think you can offer? Find people that will find your talents useful. Contact them. See if they’re interested in meeting for coffee and collaborating on a project. The more people you contact, the more other people you didn’t expect to contact you will somehow end up in your email inbox asking you if you’d like to interview for a job you want. Yes, this has happened to me, but no, I didn’t read The Secret. How did I seal the deal to make sure my fantasy job became a reality? I believed in myself…or at least acted like I did.
Act confident even if you’re not there yet. Do you see a job description that states exactly what you want to do in life but there are only two or three words in that description that you don’t understand or know how to do? Like CSS? HTML? Don’t shut down there. Research how you can learn the things you need to be doing in that job. Can you learn on the job? Does that job offer training? Why not contact the HR department and ask them? Most importantly, talk about what makes you stand apart from the rest. How can you contribute to the company outside of HTML and CSS? Do you have ideas as to how the company can change their brand or how they’re doing things? Show them you know the company well and that you would be dedicated to contributing your all to them. They may be so impressed with your attitude and knowledge in other areas that they’d be willing to train you in HTML and CSS. If you’re not right for the job at the moment, contact that HR department in a month or two and check in after you’ve taken a class. Free classes in code, for example, are available at Codeacademy.com, so there’s NO excuse if you say you’re not a “computer person”. DON’T be a Homer…
Don’t give up. Millions of other people are applying for the jobs that you are. You need to find contacts at the companies you want to work for and take them out to lunch so that they can get to know you. How do you find those contacts? Research LinkedIn profiles and Facebook. Join an alumni association. Contact HR departments and see if you can have meetings with them. If a person you contact likes you and they see you working at their company, they can be a reference for you. Keep networking with people you want to work with because the more you do your homework IN PERSON, the more jobs will come to you. Also, be innovative and bold. Maybe an email to HR doesn’t work, but a Facebook ad does. Sounds creepy, but it worked for Marian Schembari. I’m not saying put up a billboard like a real estate agent, but think outside the box. What makes you unique? How can you show a company that you can give them results? Make that a part of your resume/Facebook ad. And, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to think the same way. What makes your business model and idea stand a part from others?
Think about what’s holding you back. It’s YOU. You are the only person that can give a damn about yourself, so do it already.