Is it possible for a high school runaway (with a mohawk might I add) to later become successful in Silicon Valley? Is it possible to obtain career success without a Masters degree or without being an engineer in Silicon Valley?
I am here to tell you that it is and you don't have to be an exceptional Being to get it done. You do need to have a strong backbone and be willing to dedicate money and time to get where you want to go. (And yes, I was a runaway punk rocker in high school with a mohawk.)
I am no expert on the "science of success." I can only speak from my experiences. I'm sure you might be wondering who the hell am I and what is it that I actually have as a career. I am a Corporate Marketing Manager and I'm finally getting paid well doing what I actually studied in college: Film & Digital Media. I didn't always have this career and it took immense dedication and challenging experiences before I got where I am today. I can also tell you that I know I'm successful in Silicon Valley (aka I'm very well compensated but it's not just about compensation as you'll see below.)
My list is in chronological order from when I got out of college up to today (a span of 7 years) so stick around until the end because there are some interesting, more mature points.
Here are the keys to career success that worked for me (success to me = generous compensation + love what you do):
1. Take the big name internship, even if it pays nothing
I know you've heard, "It's who you know, not what you know." I wish I could tell you otherwise, but it's a popular saying for a reason. I landed an internship right out of college at NASA through a gal I knew for many years. We were in a nonprofit organization together as teenagers. Years later, she worked at Singularity University, an innovative technological program at NASA, and told me about an internship in their media department. I was paid a very small stipend that was enough to pay for gas to and from work. You better believe I took it! Having NASA on my resume, even as an internship, has contributed to my career success. It's not about instantly making money early in your career, it's about building the steps to create a staircase to the top.
2. If it doesn't feel right, move on or risk becoming complacent
Early after my NASA internship ended, I landed a job in real estate. Why did I take this job? There was potential opportunity for video work and some updating of real estate brochures. It was a small step in the right direction however the couple I worked for micromanaged me and I knew that I couldn't thrive and excel in that environment. There is no need to stay in a situation that you know you cannot do your best in. So I moved on and landed a job in Apple retail, another big name.
3. Get the experience but eventually move on to bigger and better things
Anyone who has worked in Apple retail knows it's an unforgettable experience and one of the best. Some of the most critical interpersonal skills I have, I learned from Apple. I was a software trainer and had the opportunity to teach customers design and video skills. The problem was it was still just retail and in the end it was damn hard to move up so I moved on.
4. If you change career paths, you can still go back
After Apple I decided to switch it up to the extreme. I became a first grade teacher at a private school. Why would I do this? I needed to move out of retail but on a more interesting point, my stepson was attending this expensive private school and I wanted him to attend at no cost so I sacrificed a few years to allow him to get a great education for free. The pay was saddening and the work was exhausting. It didn't matter how much I out-shined others, I never received proper recognition. I was afraid to venture on because after 3 years of teaching I knew it didn't align with the rest of my experience or dreams. Remember, you are never stuck. It just takes some investment on your end.
5. Invest the time and money
While I was a teacher I decided to create a website through Weebly and start a blog (which you're reading right now.) I pay an annual fee to host my site. I invest time in producing content, including YouTube videos, for my blog. I also pay for a Lynda.com subscription, an online learning platform that contains courses on business, marketing, technology, and design. Rather than spending all my evenings going out and wasting money away, I sit at home and teach myself more design and marketing skills to add to my current experience. You need to invest some time and money.
6. Contract positions are a stepping stone
It's simple, contract positions pay well and help you to gain experience. They are a great stepping stone to land a permanent position elsewhere and to obtain a bump in pay. Just be careful not to get stuck in contract roles for years. Check out: How I raised my salary by 35k in only 9 months!
7. Remove yourself from toxic work environments
Yep, I said it. Out of all the places I worked, only one was truly horrifying and toxic. There are just some places where success is impossible because sadly there are some people whose goal is to tear everyone down. I was bullied at the YMCA of Silicon Valley and it was the first job in my life where I had to quit on the spot. The compensation package was stellar but it wasn't worth the mental and physical distress. Check out: Bully Bosses at the YMCA Sometimes you have to get out of a situation and leave it behind. Although I cannot use this on my resume I learned some valuable lessons.
8. It's some skill but mainly attitude
I guess I made the right choice leaving the YMCA because now I am making twice as much! Over my 7 years of career advancement I have learned that skills are important but people hire you for your attitude. I have always been positive, energetic, and passionate about work. People value this because they trust that you will deliver quality work.
It took me 7 years after graduating college to become successful and the great thing about it: I know this is just the beginning of my success, not the end.
What are your tips in becoming successful?
Written by Sterp
Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/board-chalk-blackboard-success-1097118/
My Mantra: Strive to be the best me and improve a little every day. Be compassionate, especially to those who may not practice it. Continue to learn and love. Take a moment multiple times each day to breathe. Forgive myself and forgive others. Read books. Live what I preach. Accept others. And above all, laugh every single day. (P.S. I have an infatuation for horror and disturbing and dark true stories.)