The best career advice I ever got
About two and half years ago, before moving to Washington, D.C., I bumped into Fox News personality Kat Timpf in a hotel lobby in Dallas, Texas. We were both there for a Turning Point USA conference (she as a speaker, and I as a cheap millennial freeloading a trip to Dallas.)
I'm a longtime Kat fan, so I ran up to her and asked for a photo and also whether she'd give me some advice on how I can "grow up to be successful" like her. She gave me a piece of advice that I've been following strictly since -- and to be straight, it hasn't let me down.
"Do everything," was what she told me.
Not everything at once-- that'd be spreading yourself thin and reversely limiting yourself-- but being open to doing everything, as much as you can handle. Who knows? One of those things that you do when you're young can turn out to be a career hit for you.
Are you wondering whether to move to Seattle for that cool new job, or whether to join your neighbor's sports league that gets together at the park every Sunday, or whether to take this online developer's course your friend keeps rambling about, and you're super interested in but don't see any point in taking? Do it anyway-- you never know where life will take you, and sometimes the careers we end up with are the ones we least expect.
Kat's kind of advice has worked out for me long before I met her-- I just wasn't aware of it yet, and was still hesitant about taking new opportunities back then.
Take my writing career, for example. I never planned to be a writer when I started it four years ago. I planned to go to med school and become a gynecologist. You know, those doctors who stick their hands up women's hoo-hahs and make a lot of money. I invested a shitload of time, money, and energy into science courses, MCAT study, hospital and lab research, and med school applications. But I just happened to be at the right place, at the right time, when I met my favorite talk show host Ben Shapiro at the end of my sophomore year. He offered the chance to intern for him, and I took it even though it had nothing to do with my career goals. (This was back when Ben had around 40,000 followers on Twitter. He was still super cool and I was fangirling like crazy, but the amount of people wanting to intern for him was... way lower.)
And here I am. Sure, writers don't generally make nearly as much money as doctors make, but as far as writing careers go-- I've been pretty lucky. I started off writing for the thrill of it (in fact my first article ever written was on the job), and just a year later I was receiving a full-time salary for it, along with a consistent online audience-- something many writers spend years trying to obtain.
No, it wasn't because I was the best writer out there (although I did have to be an OK writer.) Rather, I took that opportunity as it came, despite it not feeding my initial career goal.
Here's another career I never intended, but fell in my lap simply because I was open to it: tv writing at Fox. When I first got an email asking if I wanted to write for a Fox anchor, I thought it was for her blog. I thought, "meh. I don't need another blogging job..." But I showed interest anyway, and it turned out to be a really cool scriptwriting job that opened other doors.
The catch about "doing everything" is that not everything you do is going to be of use in the long-term, and in fact some might be awful experiences. I've been part of so many different jobs and training programs since college, and some of them were a waste of time or money, while others were legit awful. But out of every ten opportunities that turned out to be "learning experiences", at least one or two were golden. Those are the ones you end up hearing about.
Hey-- I might end up a gynecologist after all. But at least I can say I did all this cool shit along the way.