When a kind friend recommended that I check out a Mission Collaborative info session, I thought Why Not? Nine months later, I’m so glad I did. I had heard of design thinking, a key part of Mission Collaborative’s approach, through my time at a tech company and by reading “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.” I loved the concept of using prototyping to test drive different career paths, but struggled with making any significant progress in my career. To be honest, I felt like I was letting myself down by not doing the work needed to find a career I loved, but I didn’t know where to start.
At the time, I was working for a DC nonprofit doing interesting work in the international education space. A recent organizational change forced me to reflect on my career objectives. I struggled with the knowledge that if I stayed in the same industry it would take me 10 more years to pay off my student loans. While I enjoyed the day-to-day work I was doing, I couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my career. I knew there were a wide range of careers available, but didn’t know which ones were right for me. The paradox of choice – having seemingly too many options – paralyzed me. Career personality tests, hours of internet research, and applying to jobs every few months didn’t seem like an effective strategy. Having had 2 full-time jobs and 10+ part-time jobs, I wasn’t worried about getting a job if I put my mind to it; I was worried I would get a new job and find myself asking the same soul-searching questions in another two years’ time.
I think Mission Collaborative is a unique program that is especially effective for people like me are very good at putting others before themselves, but not as effective at prioritizing their own wellbeing. Gretchen Rubin, the author of the Four Tendencies, coined this personality framework “Obliger Tendencies” and ultimately believes that understanding how people respond to expectations can help us manage ourselves better. The program forced me to write down my interests and goals on paper and share them with strangers, which I found terrifying but illuminating. Working with other people to solve my career challenges and questions helped me start take actionable steps to move the needle on my career progress because I felt in some sense that if I didn’t try, I’d be letting other people down.
What I also took away from the Mission Collaborative info session and Career Catalyst pilot program is that I’m not alone or a failure because I didn’t feel happy with my role. Grant, Erica, and Avi created a judgment free environment in which they encouraged people to listen to each other. I didn’t walk away with a new job or all my questions answered, and in fact, the careers I prototyped in Mission Collaborative exercises were nowhere near the career I eventually chose. However, I came to terms with the fact that my approach to job searching - look up a company on the internet, check Glass Door reviews, and apply using my resume/cover letter template – was broken and ineffective. My biggest takeaway was the importance of asking for help and growing my network. By taking their advice and investing time in getting to know industries, companies, and myself before applying to jobs, I got a job I thought was out of my reach and feel a huge sense of hope.
Maygan (May) Anthony currently works for Deloitte’s Human Capital Practice, OT&T (Organizational Transformation & Talent). Connect with May on LinkedIn.