Why I Stopped Pursuing My Dream Job

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”   

I’ve been asked this question my entire life, from when I was a toddler to after college graduation. As kids, this question made me stretch my imagination and dream of all the amazing things I could do as an adult. Fast forward to when you’re 22 in your last semester of undergrad and that same question now makes you cringe.

My original plan

If you asked 14 year old Bryana, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” I would always give the same answer: “I’m going to broadcast journalist.”  For most of my adolescence, broadcast journalism was my “dream job.” Through high school, I had a five year plan: get good SAT scores, go to Northwestern University (one of the top journalism schools in the nation), and become a broadcast news anchor on ABC. A girl can dream! My plan seemed simple enough until I suddenly realized I hated journalism at the end of my junior year of high school. I used to spend hours googling different college majors and careers. I tried English, Advertising, Marketing, Communication Studies until ...

How God Redefined My Dream Job

Plot twist #1: God led me to study public relations at American University (my 4th choice school). As a freshman, I searched for the field of PR I wanted to go into and landed in health communications. I recreated my five year plan with all the classes I want to take each semester, the clubs I wanted to join, and the places I wanted to study abroad. My goal was to do as many internships as possible until I get an internship that turns into a job the last semester of my senior year.

In the fall of junior year, my dream job seemed possible. I attended the university’s job and internship fair and met a representative from a health communications PR agency in New York offering a summer internship program. A few months later, I passed through the first interview stage, and the agency invited me to interview in person in New York. I prepped weeks in advance, editing my resume at the career center, compiling a printed writing portfolio (#extra), planning answers to interview questions, picking a suit. I was starstruck by the chance to follow my dream job in the one and only New York City.  And I did everything “right” to get that internship. Right by the world’s standards that is.

Plot twist #2: A few weeks later, I found out I didn’t get the job, and I was crushed. My “perfect” plan was ripped right from under me. I invested so much hope, value, and energy in to that one job. And it wasn’t worth it. I was left feeling empty and directionless.

I started panicking that I didn’t have any productive plans for the summer. After I frantically applying to more internships, God waited until the last minute, until during my final exams that April, I was offered an internship in Washington, DC at a health communications agency. This agency was my dream job, redefined by God’s terms. Braxton PR* turned out to be an amazing experience, better than New York could have ever been.

After finishing the internship at Braxton PR, I entered my senior year at American. I loved Braxton PR so much that I planned to apply to an entry level position that next spring. My new plan was to start my first job at Braxton PR after graduation. I put all of my hope into working at that one place. Everything was going to be perfect. Again, I spent weeks preparing my resume and cover letter. I was ready to hit send on my email when…

Plot twist #3: My old supervisor emailed me saying the open position had been filled.

As you can see, I have a tendency to get tunnel vision. Once I see an opportunity I want, that’s the only thing I want. I like to have everything planned. The people pleaser I am, I go out of my way to impress everyone to get that opportunity. I do everything the world says I should do to get ahead.

After that last rejection, I tried to deny my feelings. I tried to brush it off. I’d been rejected before. No big deal. No, suppressing my grief instead of processing it only left me in a prison of pain.

For those of you just got rejected from your dream job, give yourself time to grieve. Your feelings are valid. It’s okay to feel devastated. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel unmotivated. You have to let that old opportunity go to make room in your hands for a new one.

Once I finally took the time to grief, I got a second wind of motivation to apply for jobs, but this time I surrender my plan in prayer. Dear God, I’m open to whatever you have for me. Guide me to the right place. I was open to almost every opportunity God laid in front of me, following any lead I could. I know whatever the job was, it would be equally challenging and worthwhile. His intentions are for my good.

I ended up graduating undergrad without a job, working in human resources for a year while going to graduate school only to end up here. Currently, I’m working at a public relations agency in Washington, DC helping healthcare government agencies as clients. And I love it!

This isn’t the turn of events I originally planned. It’s what God envisioned, and it’s better than any plan I could have created myself. God is so strategic. If I hadn’t gone to graduate school at AU and worked at AU, I wouldn’t have the job I love now.

When you’re striving for one job, you’re striving for a peak. What are you going to do after that mountaintop turns into a valley? God is not calling you to one job. God is not calling you to the top of the corporate ladder. He’s calling you to Him. And that requires a whole landscape of mountains and valleys.

When you have an image of a specific job after graduation, you’re closing yourself off to what other opportunities God has for you. This does not mean you shouldn’t have ambition. You can be ambitious and goal oriented, and still be open to where God is leading you.

Allow God to redefine your dream job. What He has for your is greater than you can imagine.

*Note: I changed the company names for privacy reasons.

Photo by Robb Leahy on Unsplash