Finding Your Niche.

Have you ever questioned if you were in the right job? I read an article that stated that the “average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times during his or her career.”

This statistic did not surprise me considering the number of people I graduated with in 2013 already changed jobs more than once. People get married, have kids, move out of state, go to grad school, and have quarter life crises which prompts a job change. The trend I notice amongst people my age is that everyone is either bored, feeling underutilized, or wants a job with better pay.

My particular situation after college was that I went to a career field that I felt had very little related to my studies. On my first day of orientation, everyone went around the room to introduce themselves and one of the questions asked was “What is your educational background?” As my fellow coworkers went around the room I heard “marketing,” “economics,” “master’s in business administration,” “logistics and supply chain,” and when the question came to me I froze and said, “government and international politics…” with a confused look on my face. I thought the lack of a degree related to logistics was the only thing I had to worry about until I realized a good chunk of my intern class had prior military service and I was REALLY lost in the new jargon, the structure…pretty much everything. I immediately felt out of place and kept questioning if I was going to succeed or fail miserably…

If I could go back to July 2015, I would have told myself I was going to be OKAY! If you want to stay in your job and succeed at something completely new to you…here’s how to find your niche.

There is no such thing as a “useless” degree.

As a humanities and social sciences friends probably hear this a lot. I could have easily majored in a more marketable degree in STEM field(science/technology/engineering/math), but I am much more interested in history and government. EVERY degree is useful. From a physics degree to a theatre degree, you have a lot to offer to the work force. Find your strengths from your education. Majoring in humanities helped me learn how to research academic journals, strengthen my public speaking and writing skills, learn how to argue and defend topics, collaborate during group projects, and learn how to be open minded to other’ opinions when discussing controversial topic. These are skills I can bring to the workforce. What are some skills you can bring to yours?

Be open minded to everything

I was definitely out of my realm when I started working for the government but our instructors in the intern program I was in told us to be a sponge…soak up everything you learn! If you go into a job with a closed mind and not willing to learn new skills or adapt, you’re going to have a very, very hard time succeeding. I thought I was open minded until I got challenged and had to learn about topics I never learned about before. Some topics were more interesting than others, but I knew I had to be well rounded to be a good logistician.

Being challenged is a part of becoming a better person. There were so many things I would have never been exposed to if it wasn’t for my internship. I was afraid of getting out of my comfort zone, and my job forced me out of it. I was travelling out of state for work, training in the field with Army officers, and going to on the job training to work in environments I’ve never been exposed to. It was mentally challenging, but all of that contributed to the person I became when my internship ended.

Say yes to everything

One of the best parts of my job are the ample opportunities for more education and training. Everyone told me to say “yes” to every training opportunity offered to me. When I first started my job, I had a very narrow view of what logistics was until I took more classes and went to more job training. I started to feel like I became better-rounded and marketable for higher positions. I took on projects, signed up for classes, and travelled to conferences. If you have supportive leadership in your organization, you can have all the opportunities in the world. Outside of work, take classes at a local community college or online. You can always learn new skills no matter what stage you in your career or in your life.

By exposing yourself to new topics, you might find something you never knew you would be interested in. Just say “yes” to new experiences. You never know when you’ll take a class or training opportunity that will lead you to finding your niche.

It took me almost a year into my job until I found my niche. Now I could not imagine having any other job.

Believe in yourself, know your strengths, improve on your weaknesses, and always be willing to learn new things. Complacency will kill your goals and your motivation. Once you get out of your comfort zone, nothing can stop you from making it to the top.