Your Dream Degree or Job Might Not Be Everything You Thought It Would Be — And That’s Okay

Francine shares some advice on accepting the possibility that your dream job or degree might not meet all of your expectations.


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As a proud Gemini, avid hobby picker-upper, and generally someone that’s just interested in too many different things, the notion that there is no such thing as a "dream job" is definitely something that I am still struggling to come to terms with. Throughout my time degree- and major-hopping in university, I have developed a few pieces of advice that can make accepting the reality that you can’t force your dreams to meet all of your expectations a bit easier.

You have to be flexible. You cannot expect your degree or job to be absolutely everything you imagined. Learn the importance of compromise. Of course, that doesn't mean that you should disregard your principles and values or work a job that makes you miserable for the sake of making money. In my own experience, I have found that if you continue to try to find the perfect job or degree for your that it's really easy to get sucked into a cycle of feeling dissatisfied about one aspect of your job or subject area if you're a student. So naturally, you try out a different area that seems to go well for a while until something else seems to fall flat — rinse and repeat. 

Over time, I have found that it is a lot easier mentally and physically to find a job or subject area that doesn't necessarily tick all your boxes but still inspires you. If it's something missing from your main job, try to pick up a new hobby after work. If something is missing from the subject area that you are studying, make use of your time in academia and try to self-study areas of interest or join different interest groups! Your life is so much more than the hours you spend at work or studying (though I know sometimes it doesn't feel like that).

The degree you've chosen or that job you've signed a contract with is not the end-all-be-all. It is perfectly understandable to feel like you’re missing out on certain parts of life by committing to a certain degree or job, but it is important to remind yourself that you are a multifaceted being and it would be near impossible to find a job that caters to all of your skills, interests, and dreams. But it is also important to consider that, while it is certainly not an easy path, you will always have options available to you for the day you decide that you do need a change. At the end of the day, just make sure that you are on the path that you want to be on. It will make enduring those tough days and moments of doubt just a little easier.

You do not stop growing after graduation. I'm in the final year of my degree and I know that for many of us students it can seem like the person that you are when you graduate will be the person that you are stuck with for the rest of your life. Articulating that thought now, it seems a little silly to think that — like, duh you've got your whole life ahead of you after you graduate. But I can certainly empathize with anyone out there that is terrified that they aren't where they want to be yet but it seems like time's about to run out because you're about to graduate soon. It's just important to keep in mind that just because a path ends doesn't mean you can't keep moving forward and make your own path. This is certainly something that I am still trying to internalize but I have had the immense pleasure of talking with so many different and amazing individuals that are currently working in careers that fill their cup and it is inexplicably eye-opening.

I urge anyone that feels suffocated by the fear that you'll never find a job that completely fulfills you to chat with people that have gone through or are going through, the process of finding their footing in the world after graduation. I cannot understate the value of hearing other people's experiences and perspectives when it comes to trying to figure out your own desires and direction. Chatting with Adrien Cho, the Outsource and Vendor Manager at Xbox Game Studio's 343 Industries, is one example of an encounter that has left me feeling more equipped to tackle the throes of trying to find something that fills your cup.

Even if your job ticks all your boxes, there will still be days where you will feel exhausted and don't want to work. That doesn't mean you've made the right choice, it just means you need a day off or to find something outside of work. You need to have a life outside of your work.

As a chronic over-committer and over-worker, I understand that it can be especially hard to leave your work at work when you are passionate about it and care about your performance. But in the same vein, I also know that not having that boundary between work and your personal life is a one-way ticket to burnout and I've found that burnout is always the culprit when I find myself seemingly out of nowhere questioning my life and work choices. I assure you, nine times out of ten you don't actually hate that subject area or job that you've been enamoured with for the last three years — you're just burnt out. Too much of anything is not good for you, even if it's something you love.

If you find yourself in this predicament where you feel a bit let down that your dream degree or dream job isn’t everything you thought it would be, just know that this likely doesn't mean that you've chosen the wrong degree, job, or life path. It just means you can't always have it all! Respect your interests and dreams, stay curious, and remember that you are so much more than your degree and your job. 

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About Francine

Francine is in her fifth and final year of the secondary education program with the fun combination of being a physics major and English minor (she swears there’s more overlap than it seems!) She is very importantly also an avid lover of bread and cats. When she's not spending time working and studying, you can catch her reading a book, playing video games, or finding various ways to be a loaf.