“ Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it” Chinese Proverb
You start out with a great education and then you choose the career you want to be in when you ‘grow up’. You know, the one where you get to do what you love and it brings in a great income.
If only it were that simple. There will always be challenges, good and bad, and that’s ok, because challenges can make you stronger and you can learn from them, or at least you should.
I work in a large national organisation as a writer in a public relations team and I’m also a freelance writer. Writing is what I love to do, it’s what I have wanted for a long time, but it’s not what I started out wanting and it’s not what other people thought I would do. It’s taken 20 years to get to this point and I think I’m surprising some people.
My career path has not been smooth and I’d like to share some of my challenges with you, and show you that when you set your mind to something, you can succeed.
I have worked in a diverse range of organisations and worked with some truly inspiring, kind and supportive people as well as bullies, narcissists, the jealous, lazy and the incompetent. I have experienced great leadership but I have also been surrounded by people who haven’t believed in me.
I grew up in the poorer end of town and attended a high school with a general vibe of negativity and low expectations. Most teachers thought that students attending that school would never be capable of attending university. Most teachers had given up on the students before they finished day one.
I wanted to go to university, so I headed to the city to attend a college that I thought would give me a more positive college experience, a place where my future was chosen by me. Unfortunately I couldn’t hide which high school I had attended and it didn’t seem to matter whether I was a good student with good grades, or not. I was discouraged from enrolling in university prerequisite subjects, based on my perceived socio-economic status.
Enrolment numbers were quite low for business administration, so it was decided for me, I would need to enrol in business administration. It turned out that I was actually quite good at it and I pursued a career in that field for over 10 years, while I waited to be eligible for entry into university as a mature age student.
Working towards the goal
With some administrative skills up my sleeve I was determined to work my way to the top of my field, and I did. My last administrative role was Executive Assistant to a senior executive in a government organisation. Throughout my administrative career I took every opportunity to learn from others, accept challenges and said yes to all the opportunities that gave me more skills and experience.
After 15 years working in administration, office management, executive support and project management I felt that I needed to take my career to the next level. It was time to do what I wanted to do. I had spent enough of my career doing what other people wanted me to do.
I discussed my plans with people I thought would support me, only to be told by a senior manager that I was doing a great job in the role I was in and I should forget about career advancement. I was also told that because I had a small family I wouldn’t have the time or energy to further my career and I still didn’t have a university degree.
This was my turning point.
This made me angry and more determined than I had ever been to prove that not only was that senior manager wrong, but everybody in my past was wrong as well. I started to think about what I really wanted to do and asked myself a question:
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Change my career, is what I would do. Prove all the non-believers wrong, is what I would do. Take the next opportunity, is what I would do.
The next opportunity that I found was a role in a public relations team as a writer. No degree necessary. I applied for the position and I was successful. I have been in the role several years now and I love it. I am also studying a public relations degree at university, performing at distinction level.
WORDS BY KATRINA DARE. Katrina is a freelance writer and public relations professional with a background in business administration. Katrina can be contacted on Twitter @Katrina_Dare and email firstname.lastname@example.org
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