O Dream Job, Where Art Thou?

O Dream Job, Where Art Thou?

I received the generous Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship to fund my Ph.D. research. And as the time goes on it is running out. That, in turn, means that I have to start preparing my CV, scout web pages and look for contacts to get the next job, for a man has to eat. Simple enough. Yet now I discover a mental hurdle I was not expecting from a thirty-year-old me. I don’t know what job I want to do.

In a way, my problem roots in the abundance of possibilities. My skills allow me to pick from an impressive range of jobs. That prospect of choice confuses and gives the perception that there is always something better around the corner. So I catch no breath and keep hunting for that better position. On the other hand, I don’t have the anecdotal “at least three years of experience” for the most of these jobs, so they will stay out of my reach.

Another reason for my paralysis is subtle, but I think more important in our time. I want to do something useful with my time. I have many skills and hundreds of people were investing in me so that I develop them. I feel the need to give back.

The combination of these two factors blocks my mind and launches me into a spiral of passivity that is difficult to exit. I dream of a job that makes me needed. A job that is interesting, funny, and has a good financial padding. This view is so utopic, but I cannot stop clinging to it and fill out notebooks with improvement schemes, and employment strategies. Like in an ancient shamanic ritual, I paint diagrams and invocations for the gods of Flexibility, Networking, and Transferable Skills just to be left disheartened once again.

Plainly, I am afraid of a life empty and insignificant. And the more I talk to my peers, the more I realize I am not alone in this. We are all afraid to be just another “walking dead” coming to life only on weekends. We are afraid to have that highly paid yet unclear job where no one will miss you if you disappear for a week. We are scared of our next job description which not even we can understand. Is it normal that I scream inside every time I randomly generate a future job title for a skilled professional? (Dynamic Response Agent made me also whimper aloud, though).

I try to battle this block by listening to people who had similar problems battling the anxiety or finding a job that fits the soul. I also made a development plan to outline where I don’t want to work. And I talk to people. Colleagues, friends, and random encounters, I ask them why they chose to do what they do. The conclusions are so far that the path to a good job is not linear and that the one perfect job does not exist. One thing is clear – the future will be interesting.