As my projects wrap up at work, I'm finding it is time to move on to the next big thing. I've been allowed to grow enormously in my time there, stretching myself into new areas for myself as well as my company. We want to better understand our users and look further into Google Analytics? I can learn that. We need someone else to hop on our Drupal sites and fix bugs? Sure, I can teach myself PHP and start knocking them out. But what now?
When I had begun applying for jobs after finishing my Master's degree, I joked that my main skill was studying. My first degree in Zoology was very theory based. It basically focused on learning how science worked. I had thought then that I was graduating with zero 'life skills', watching in misery as my engineering friends were snatched up by companies. Since I had wanted to become a physical therapist, going back to school was my only option. That was a job you could only get with the correct degrees. When I changed my mind, I was again faced with the real world and no actual skills. Sure I had spent hours in the library pouring over the citric acid cycle. Sure I had read a good portion of our "Medical Physiology" textbook word for word and even learned it well enough to teach to others.
But what was I really graduating with? I'm sure I could pipette well enough, but it wasn't on my resume. I'm sure I could do any lab work well enough, but it wasn't on my resume. Every "Lab ___" job I looked at wanted x years in the field. I knew the science I just didn't have the experience.
Luckily, I wound up where I did. Because now I see this "joke" of a skill as something truly valuable.
On my computer, I have two versions of my resume. One is the 'full' one at 5 pages, the other is the 'real' one I actually give out. Skimming over the full one, I have just over 20 jobs or positions. They seemingly have nothing to do with each other, the skills range from writing code, organizing an office, or managing other kennel technicians. Nor do the fields, including managing SCUBA gear repairs, training clients in the gym, or working in a metabolism lab drying bull shit. Or as I liked to call the poop samples kept in disposable baking dishes, cow pies.
Each location though had its room for growth. From how we tracked the Vice Chancellor's messages and files between 3 levels of assistants to how best develop and run a company's internal intranet. And my job description has always managed to spread into those problems, finding out how to best solve them. Therefore, my skill set has also expanded in a wide range of things.
Most job listings list out a specific field and ask for people that have been using those exact skills for several years. Not people that can do a wide range of abilities and easily pick up new ones. Sure people put "must be able to quickly learn and adapt" on the job description. Right alongside the 5+ years experience.
When people ask me what I'm looking for, I shrug, say "I could be happy in a lot of places", then list out a variety of interests. What they're expecting is a specific field. One particular career path that I have been on for a while and am searching to continue.
I'm not sure what to look for as hard-working, easily adaptable, general problem solver interested in many fields. I'm interested in how people work together, what makes great management, what the best teachers do, how to better connect with your neighbor, building beautiful analytics, the effect of sentence structure, several things about art... and the list goes on.
Jobs aren't usually 1 specific task repeated again and again, you generally have to know a variety of things. Even if you're hired as a Research Associate as I was, that's not all I do. So how do you find the places that need that variety and actually ask for it?