Choose a Job You Love...

Our guest contributor this week is Elisa Jakymin, Research Project Coordinator in the Marketing team at Tourism Australia's head office in Sydney, Australia.

Most people are familiar with the famous quote by Confucius:

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

What society is less upfront about is just how challenging this can actually be in application.

These days, seemingly everyone has a university degree. It’s no longer a point of difference so it’s important to differentiate yourself in other ways. Gone are the days where a Master’s degree guarantees a smooth transition into the workforce. Today, recruitment processes for internships and graduate programs can involve several rounds of interviews, online psychometric testing and group assessment days. 

What’s more, success at university does not necessarily equate to success in the workplace. Some fields are more competitive than others, with demand seeming to far outweigh supply. I have several friends who, despite excelling at high school and in university, took up to twelve months to secure a job in journalism. They typically had to accept placements in regional areas in order to eventually ensure a position in a more accessible, metropolitan destination.

What’s your point of difference?

The single most important piece of advice that I would offer to myself as a former student as well as to any future graduates is to apply for any kind of work experience or internship that you can in order to start building up networks and connections in your chosen field of work. My first two employment opportunities following graduation from university were off the back of unpaid internships.

My first internship was at Australia’s National Marketing Organisation – my current workplace, Tourism Australia. This was via an established internship program, through which I was able to obtain credit towards my university degree. To this day, applying for this internship was one of the best decisions I ever made. This program contributed some of the most amazing highlights to my life to date, such as participating in the finals week of ‘The Best Jobs in the World.’ This included climbing the Harbour Bridge alongside the finalists and being granted exclusive access to Taronga Zoo before the park was opened to the public. Of course, it also involved dedicating two days of my week to unpaid work, alongside juggling paid work and university commitments. No pain, no gain!

"As difficult as this period was at the time, the learnings from it far surpassed any learnings picked up in my working life to date. I learned the value of enjoying work, knowing your limits and making the most of each and every day."

My second internship and subsequent full-time position, in marketing at a global tour operator company, wasn’t quite as glamorous. It came off the back of getting directly in touch with the Head of Marketing there, which was an incredible opportunity – you never know the possibilities unless you ask the question! The position involved working to really tight deadlines and feeling run off my feet the majority of the time, eventually triggering pre-existing chronic health conditions which led to a six-month sabbatical off work.

As difficult as this period was at the time, the learnings from it far surpassed any learnings picked up in my working life to date. I learned the value of enjoying work, knowing your limits and making the most of each and every day. I shifted my career goals from a tactical marketing role to more of a strategic one, which led me down the path of research. You might not love every job you have, but importantly, in every job is a valuable lesson and acquirable skills. Each position held also facilitates securing your next position.

Life’s too short to be spending eight hours each day on a job you hate. When the position in research at Tourism Australia came up, I had a gut feeling that this position was created for me. While I still had to go through the traditional recruitment and interview process, my former internship experience helped provide me with a point of difference in order to stand out from the other hundreds of applicants.

What are my biggest learnings in the workforce since?

  • Your manager and team make a big difference to how much you enjoy your job. Ensure you meet your potential future manager and team prior to accepting a position. Make an effort to collaborate positively and get along with your team! It makes a world of difference to your happiness and well-being.
  • Those who speak up get noticed. As an introvert, I tend to feel more comfortable sitting on the sidelines, listening and observing rather than actively participating. Unfortunately, those who knock off tasks at their desk just don’t get the recognition or the promotions! Put yourself up for every training and growth opportunity along the way. Don’t just fake it ‘til you make it; fake it ‘til you become it!
  • A big difference between university life and the working environment is that at university, students are expected to - and prided upon - doing what they’re told to the best of their ability. Your time is, at least to some extent, managed for you by your lecturers and professors. In the workplace, you need to set boundaries around your time to avoid getting taken advantage of. Push back on tasks falling outside of your job description and strengthen those assertive muscles!
  • Ask for what you want. If you don’t love what you’re doing, speak with your manager about how you would like your role to evolve and what you’d like to be doing more or less of. What you want isn’t going to be served to you on a platter – you need to work hard for it and make that fact known. Try to spend each day on the tasks that are most important to the evolution of your role as opposed to the ones that are most urgent. Think big picture!
  • In a world faced with increasing instability including lay-offs and redundancies, it’s important to create an identity for yourself outside of your job. Make an effort to leave work at work and to build a life outside of it as well. Venture outside in your lunch breaks and take up a hobby to increase your life satisfaction outside of the workplace bubble.

"Each and every one of us is a leader, regardless of title, status or compensation."

In an increasingly competitive global landscape where it’s difficult to come by an internship or work experience opportunity - let alone a job offer - I can understand why people get stuck in the rut of a dead-end job they dislike.

To those people, my advice is this: ultimately the greatest gift you have in life is now – to be the best you can be, right here, right now. Think about the life you want to lead and mould your days to that vision as closely as possible.

Each and every one of us is a leader, regardless of title, status or compensation. We often think we’re immune to life’s difficulties and tragedies and that we can plan for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, one day doesn’t always come so seize today and apply this advice to your job - either learn to love it or shove it!

-Elisa Jakymin


This post has been edited for grammar. All other content remains the original thoughts & expressions of the author.