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Getting Your Dream Job In Your 20s Is Not Ideal

by Chau Trieu 20 days ago in industry

Let the job choose you once in a while

Getting Your Dream Job In Your 20s Is Not Ideal
Photo by Jonas Geschke on Unsplash

“What would you like to do when you grow up?”

What a burning question whose answer is still to be found by people in their 20s.

During my teenage years, my answer was always changing.

During my second year in college, I got to visit the Dutch office of Oxfam on a school field trip. That was when I understood non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the work they do for the world. I thought this was what I wanted to do. It was also the first time I thought carefully and felt strongly about my career.

Fortunately, I got an internship at Oxfam one year later. That seemed like a dream come true.

But it wasn’t.

Six months working as a communication intern for one of the biggest NGOs in the world didn’t teach me much about how communication applies in the real world. I did have fun making newsletters with MailChimp, managing social media, and drafting a video script. But most of the time, I got caught up with administrative tasks like compiling data from previous years, attending meetings that had nothing to do with me and taking minutes, and emailing colleagues from overseas on behalf of my manager.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the working culture, my teammates, the lunch breaks where I got to talk with people from different backgrounds and have years of experience in the field, and the random introduction at the coffee machine.

I loved everything about my job, except for my job.

I got interested in working for NGOs in the first place because I love the idea of making a living out of contributing to society and the greater good. Though my first internship disappointed me, I still wanted to work for a non-profit organization after graduating.

Yet, after months of job search, I had no leads.

Then, in February 2021, I was offered the role of a content writer for a consulting agency. The job seemed not ideal to me, but due to the financial problem I was facing, I went ahead and took it.

It has been six months since I joined the company and this job made me realize that the last thing I should do in my 20s is getting a dream job.

How a dream job can crush your expectations

The most amazing things that can happen to a human being will happen to you, if you just lower your expectations. — Phil Dunphy

For a funny sitcom, Modern Family has got some pretty inspirational quotes.

This is probably the root cause of my disappointment at my internship at Oxfam. When I labeled it as my ‘dream job’, I raised my expectations unbelievably high, to the point that I was guaranteed to be let down.

I thought the job would allow me to learn a great deal about communication, digital marketing, and content creation among others. In fact, it was filled with mundane and tedious administrative tasks.

I thought at the end of my internship, I would have accomplished something meaningful and made the world a better place. Well, the company’s social media accounts did gain followers and my colleagues’ tasks did get easier with my help.

I thought this internship would consolidate my career choice and encourage me to follow this path. And here I am, writing this article.

I don’t think there’s a dream job that will meet one’s every expectation. The word ‘dream’ itself is vague, mythical, and unreal.

How a dream job can be deceiving

There are many things in life you think you love it, but turns out you don’t.

Case in point, a friend of mine has dreamed of launching her own fashion brand for the longest time. She started her business at the beginning of 2020 and it is still going well despite the hardships that the pandemic has brought about. About three months ago, during our catch-up call, she told me that she actually didn’t love fashion as much as she thought. She no longer found designing clothes exciting. Instead, running a business had amazed her, and she was going to take business classes to hone her skills.

So my friend’s ‘assumed’ dream job is actually the stepping stone that leads her to realize another passion of hers that might just be more exhilarating.

In this case, isn’t the dream job deceiving? Or is there even such a thing called a ‘dream job’ when it leads you to another dream?

How a dream job limits your potential

In the debate of specialist v. generalist, I lean toward being a specialist who likes to try new things.

There are so many things one can learn now. I’m a Communication student who writes for a living and is looking to do a Master’s in Creative Writing. But I am still trying daily to improve my other skills. I’d love to be better at video editing, filmmaking, digital painting, social media managing, statistic analyzing, and maybe coding someday.

A dream job, as brilliant and ideal as it sounds, puts one in a box. You want to be the best at it. You constantly study that exact one field. You don’t want to branch out and learn new things because you have found that one thing you desire the most.

I’d argue: life is too short to stay in one place.

How I’m doing at my job

Some people choose their jobs. Others get picked. I’m in the second group.

Is this what I thought I would do after graduating? Absolutely not.

Do I love my current job? Yes and No. Yes, because I get to do what I love for a living. No, because I’m working in a field that I’m not familiar with and not that keen on.

Is it the best job for me now? Yes, because it is the job I have now. It pays the bills. It makes me learn about the history and the current state of design, architecture, and fashion. It lets me experience SEO, Google Ads, making a podcast, holding interviews, publishing articles to fashion magazines among others. It allows me to engage with world-famous designers and prestigious fashion brands.

By any definition of ‘dream job’, this one is certainly not it. But it is getting me closer to my ultimate goal.


To my fellow 20-something people who are still searching for their dream job:

Ditch the idea of the dream job. Take what you can get.

Of course, chase your dream, follow your passion, don’t give up on your ambition.

But also don’t close yourself off to just one choice.

Life is full of surprises. One day, when you choose to open the door that you never thought you would, it might lead you to the path that was meant for you.


Chau Trieu

Trying to create daily...

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