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My "Dream Job" vs "Dream" First Job

Jessie's story is one that I relate to very well. In fact, I was in her shoes just about 5 years ago when I was starting my career at a large company. As you already know, it wasn't the right fit for me, but before I started, I remember thinking that my first job had to be perfect and one that I would stay at for years and years. Jessie reflects on this feeling and what she did after not finding (or what she thought) was her "dream job" right away. Enjoy!


I wasn’t someone who knew exactly what I wanted to do after college. However, choosing my major — business administration — was pretty easy. I always liked solving problems; math and numbers came easily to me. Business administration seemed like the natural choice, especially since it provided plenty of options for potential careers.

Second semester of my senior year, right as I started to narrow down what I might actually want to do, COVID erupted, and the world shut down. My hopes of going into Human Resources or Recruiting automatically became slim. Businesses were on indefinite hiring freezes and no one knew what was going to happen next. I got a job in retail and spent this time applying for full time positions and networking with anyone and everyone who I could get ahold of.

While at Furman University, I served as the president of my sorority, a leadership role I was so thankful for. It was truly one of the hardest things I had to do but it was also the most rewarding. It made me feel accomplished, appreciated and I loved what I was doing. So, towards the end of summer 2020, when I was asked to apply for a job at their national headquarters, I figured it was worth a shot. At the same time, I was nervous…would I like working there as much as I had liked serving as chapter president? It wasn’t in HR or recruiting, so was it a step in the right direction for my career?

I applied and was offered a job at Kappa Delta Headquarters as a Collegiate Experience Associate. This meant I would be working directly with current chapter presidents, mentoring them and handling crises as necessary. In August 2020, four months after I graduated, I started my first “real world” job. While it wasn’t in the field I eventually wanted to go into, it was a good offer to do something where I could succeed and enjoy myself. I quickly learned that there are so many things that can’t be taught in the classroom, and they mean it when they say, ‘no experience is a bad experience.’ For me, having a full-time job, regardless of what field it was in, taught me more about myself than some career assessment ever could have. I learned how to go through training, how to onboard other members of our team, how to communicate with members of the board and upper management, when (and how) to loop my boss in on something, how to time block, how to initiate a project, how to collaborate and ask for feedback, etc. The various skills I learned will serve me in any job in the future regardless of industry or size.

After a year at Kappa Delta, I started looking for a job in HR/Recruiting, but this time around, I knew how to sell myself and the techniques I acquired. I now knew that I loved the analytical side of things just as much as building relationships with clients. I knew what to look for in a company (what’s their management structure, how do they collaborate) and I knew the questions to ask to get the information I needed to make the most informed decision.

"What you consider your “dream job” can change a hundred times between now and when you retire. For me, it was the “dream” first job."

I spent undergrad (and high school) thinking I had to graduate with my dream job lined up, the job at the company I’d retire from, the one where everyone would think I had “made it.” After working at Kappa Delta Headquarters for a year and a half, I learned that it’s more important to start somewhere, surround yourself with good people and then take the next step from there. There isn’t one path you have to follow to get where you want to be, and if anything will teach you that, it’s a global pandemic. It’s all about how to adapt and what you learn. Ask for professional development opportunities, learn from those around you and ask questions. What you consider your “dream job” can change a hundred times between now and when you retire. For me, it was the “dream” first job.

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