A group meeting
February 25, 2016
3 mins read

Stay excited about your career

Watch UBC student, Francis Arevalo’s Goodgetter’s Initiative Youtube video. The Goodgetter’s Initiative is a group of students that aims to promote social good by bringing together musicians and entrepreneurs from around campus.

In the video, Francis talks about what excites him about the initiative, about how he found a connection between what he’s learned in his classes, to what he’s passionate about.

It’s about that “a-ha” moment when the things you love, the things that you work hard for, and the things that you’re good at align. In that moment, this feeling of excitement, buoyed up by equal parts “I got this” and “I can do more with what I’ve got”, is as intense as it is fleeting.

This is a feeling that I’ve recently come to relate to. More importantly, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can hold on to that excitement, to build on the momentum and to channel it into more opportunities.

Last year, I took a risk to apply for a co-op job with RunGo, a local start-up company and running app that provides guided turn-by-turn directions for your runs. I was surprised when they offered me the job, despite not having any technical experience. At RunGo, I worked as a Content Curator for the company’s app, and I soon discovered I had a knack for doing this kind of thing. The co-op experience led me to pursue a career in a more technical direction, and I started to understand that my career options aren’t necessarily defined by my degree choice. It really took the pressure off of going into foreign affairs, which seemed the obvious career path for my International Relations major.

Like Francis, I started to understand that the courses I took had taught me some very important skills: research and a strong understanding of global affairs.  I also started to see how this knowledge could be applied in some unexpected and surprising ways. For example, as a content curator at RunGo, I often have to research the best running routes around the world. With the intercultural awareness I gained through the International Relations program, I’m able to give travelers a unique perspective of the city they’re running in through guided tours.

Even though I’m excited to have some clarity and direction on my career, there are still days when I feel unmotivated, uninspired, and even bored. The second-guessing can be demoralizing, but completely normal. When’s life’s busy we need to set ourselves up to keep pursuing what we’re excited about and to stay focused, here’s what I’ve found to help with that:

Surround yourself with the right people
It’s definitely easier to stay excited when you’re surrounded by passionate people who are motivated, and working for the same things as you. There are tons of networking events at UBC and in Vancouver that you can take advantage of, so even if you’re feeling shy about networking, remember that almost everyone in the room probably feels the same way.

Take breaks
It is easy to throw yourself into projects or even homework you’re passionate about, but taking a break could be just as beneficial. When I first realized my love for content strategy, I started involving myself in every project that came my way and was soon overwhelmed. As much as I loved all of the tasks, I couldn’t give a 100% to all of them.  When it gets tough, go for a long walk, check out a new cafe, or read a book. The truth is, that break might give you a better and more insightful perspective to what you’re working on anyway.

Go where your curiosity takes you
Student Gloria Eid writes about how ”finding your passion” can be overwhelming; she recommends following your curiosity instead, and I couldn’t agree more. While you should consider what sparked your passion in the first place, don’t be afraid to explore your curiosity or what comes next because one experience always leads to another, so feel open, curious, and free.

I’m currently about a year away from completing my degree and I’m still working at the start-up that sparked my initial interest in content strategy.  I’m also now working as a Communications Assistant with UBC, and I am continuing to put my learned skills to good use. In my spare time, I take online classes through Udacity so I can improve my technical abilities, and I am also thinking of pursuing the BCS program at UBC after I graduate.   “…for the first time in my life; my studies, my work, [and] my passions [are] all aligned,” (Francis Arevelo). Most importantly, I’m excited and open to seeing where my future takes me.