Jennifer Garner thought she was going to be a stage actor and only took her first TV role because she was flat broke. She also slept on a futon in some woman’s kitchen for 9 months while she was waiting (and working her tail off!) to hit her stride. She now has an IMDB page a mile long. You never know what will be your life’s best stepping stone. What you can do is be in position to take advantage of the breaks that come your way.
If you feel like you need a change or you’re looking for a career pivot, read on. Even if your current role isn’t everything you want it to be, it’s time to think differently about where you are now. It could be a stepping stone for where you want to be next.
Three Ways to be in Position For Your Big Break:
1. See every role as a chance to sharpen your skills or try on different roles.
Jennifer Garner didn’t expect to become a screen actress, but taking a small TV role led her down the path that landed her in every American’s living room. Whether you’re just starting out and finding your way or you’re well established, but feeling a little stale, stay open minded.
Take each role you accept as a chance to get paid to figure out what you’re interested in and get some experience while you’re at it. As you go, you’ll find your lane. Then you can either keep running in that lane or take those finely-tuned skills to your next full-time job. Highly-skilled, well-rounded workers have a leg up on the competition.
2. Think of every role as a paid audition.
Even if you don’t land your dream job right away, anything that gets your foot in the door could end up being the story you tell of how you got your big break. If you love a business’s culture or brand, be open to a less desirable role and just see where it leads. You get to learn what you like with companies and people you enjoy and then have a built-in connection for future opportunities. If you do well enough on your “audition,” you’ll be in position for more work in the future. From there, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to accept an opportunity or keep working for yourself. The power is in your hands.
3. Make connections.
Once you’ve shown yourself as a reliable, positive teammate, the world opens up. People talk about you and you organically build a robust network that includes both decision makers and people in related fields.
The Bottom Line
Many factors determine what career path is the right fit for your life. It’s rare you’ll start out in a dream role, but a not-so-great role may be exactly the thing that allows you to live the life you want to live. For others, one role might be the right thing, but only for a season. After a brief walk down one road, you may take all your experience and do a complete u-turn. Whether your current role is a stepping stone to your dream position or the long-term career path you didn’t even know you wanted, the best time to go for it is right now.