What do you want to be when you grow up?
I can remember the first answer I had to that question though I was destined for a very different profession. I was four and my first (and only) client was my Dad. He was very patient as I combed his hair, cut it with plastic blade scissors and decorated it with those colourful 80s plastic barrettes we all adorned. But as soon as I learned that to get more customers as a hairdresser I would have to do what they wanted rather than what I wanted, I gave up the profession completely and set my sights on a different path (much to my father’s relief, I’m sure).
Like many, my path has been a winding one and people are often surprised to hear how I earn a living when I’ve had such diverse and diverging interests. After growing up with all my spare time dedicated to dance, I moved away, traveled the world, founded a dance studio and graduated university before moving to Toronto and getting my first real (corporate) job. Seven years later, I still have a difficult time explaining to people what I do for work.
In a nutshell, I sell technology. If you use email, phone apps or sign in to guest wifi, chances are that along the way you touched a piece of technology myself, a colleague or a competitor sold. I work closely with organizations across Toronto and the greater area who rely on technology to support their approximate 2000 employees as well as their own customers. Being employed by a channel partner means I represent a large number of software and hardware vendors and manufacturers when helping my customers select the right technology. Sounds pretty dull, right?
But it isn’t. Make no mistake, this isn’t what I set out to do after university nor was it what I dreamed about doing as a kid. But just because I started a career as a professional salesperson doesn’t mean I gave up on all the things I dreamed about having in my life. It doesn’t mean that my job isn’t fulfilling or meaningful. I remember a couple of years into my life as an IT sales person I thought I had left a part of me behind. That I’d given up on myself since my days were driven by numbers and my nights by anxiety. If I wasn’t working for a charity, a startup or pursuing my first passion in life (dance) was I really making a difference in the world? Over time, I started to learn that your job title isn’t what defines you. Your personal values and work ethic, though they contribute to your professional performance, are the most important to maintaining your integrity.
Finding a job that’s the right fit for you means understanding who you are, what makes you tick, what gets you going. I might work for a corporation but my job is entrepreneurial in nature, which is probably the best part about the position. I only had entrepreneurial experience before working for a corporation and let’s be honest, it’s in my genes. And though it comes with a high level of accountability, pressure and responsibility, the hard work pays off. I work in an industry that is always changing and challenging me to better understand my customers’ businesses in order to help them improve productivity, process and profitability. Needless to say, I’ve learned and grown in a way that prepares me for whatever is next.
I remind myself daily that this is one step along my path: every day I’m working towards what I want to do when I grow up. What you’re doing now isn’t necessarily what you’ll be doing the rest of your life; we’ve all heard the statistics of how many jobs people have on average these days. In fact, it’s very likely that the job you’re meant to do isn’t even hiring yet - because it doesn’t exist. You have to remember with each job, experience and opportunity you’re developing skills for the next step along your path. There’s still time for me to become a hairdresser yet!
If you've ever felt the same or have a similar story, please leave a comment below!