What does it really mean to find a career you love?

Valentine’s day is all about the people we love. But “love” is used in different ways. Penelope Trunk argues that “Finding a career you love” is bad career advice. If that’s true, then I’m among the guilty. A few years ago, a trip back my alma mater (to talk to students about my career) prompted me to write about my journey to finding a career I love.

Penelope’s 2007 article, more recently referenced on The Muse, points out that some graduates end up putting too much pressure on themselves to find that perfect career—to find what they love. If you view finding a career you love as a starting point, then I agree—it’s bad advice. But for most of us, finding a career you love is a journey.

So I set out to test my hypothesis by talking to team Viddler. I wanted to learn what led Viddlers to their current positions. Did they always know what their dream job would be, or did each team member have a unique journey that led them to Viddler? Or maybe this isn’t the career they love, and Viddler is simply another stepping stone in their personal journey?

After interviewing at least one person from every group, I learned some interesting things. First, we had several who aspired, at an early age, to be airline pilots or even paleontologists. Almost none of us do anything like we imagined we would as kids, and several didn’t know their current jobs even existed when they were starting out.

Team Viddler has a diverse background. Many of us have a career that doesn’t even remotely resemble where we started. From pharmacy to marketing, outdoor labor to solutions engineering, and from selling automotive service to creating software products, our career journeys have not followed a linear path.

What does it really mean to find a career you love?

What we all have in common is that our current positions are where we want to be right now…

  • “Yes, at this point in my life. Absolutely. I get to help people. I get to see people grow, including myself. I get to help people learn how to make more money.” – Bernie Selvey
  • “Yeah, because in any job it’s awesome to be able to experiment and try things to figure out if it works or not and a lot of companies do not allow for that.” – Susanna Arntz
  • “Yes. I get to solve some interesting problems and never have to leave the house :)” – Matt Fawcett

But I think Darryl Rentz had the most interesting observation about career journeys when he cited “Five Reasons to Ignore the Advice to do What You Love” and explained, “I don’t agree with the common adage, ‘Do what you love and the money will follow.’ I believe in ‘Do what you love, but follow the money.’ That’s how I ended up in sales within the video industry.” As a company focused on providing technology to help sales reps perform better, it’s important to recognize sales may not be a person’s dream job. It doesn’t need to be, but it may enable them to do what they love, where ever that passion lies.

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