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Getting Involved Can Help You in Your Career

Some jobs (or job titles) look good on paper (physical or virtual). Others look good on photos. 


As I was reflecting on my passion for career grow and development, I realized that it started not only when I made my big leap of faith (aka my transition from corporate to coach). I’ve ALWAYS been passionate about learning, growing and honoring one’s uniqueness as I navigated through my own personal and professional life, and helped others do the same.


One of the important things I truly believe in is getting your hands dirty or getting involved. Like I said above, some jobs or job titles look good on paper, others look good on photos. But are they really good? I’ve coached more than an hundred professionals through their career transitions and there would always be some who would have an “ideal” career in mind based on what they’ve seen their family or friends (or maybe even mentors or idols) doing. And then there would be others who are seeking to level up in one’s career or explore something new.  And to all of them, I suggest, get your hands dirty.


Here are two of my own stories about involvement.


Kurly the Pastry Chef


I love cooking and baking. As a child, I’ve been my mom’s handy helper in the kitchen. I was interested enough to take short courses in the summer between school, but not super interested to consider it as a profession…. Well until 5 years into my corporate career.


I don’t remember what re-sparked the interest, but I remember investing on my first heavy duty mixer, my first hard-bound (non-academic) book, and short courses on baking and cake decorating (I even took days off from work to do this). I had my multiply site and my facebook page set up. My dad was kind and generous enough to fund a kitchen extension for me. I was really serious that I already researched on schools here and abroad where I could take this hobby to the next level.

But one night while I was working an all-nighter to finish a client’s order, I realized that this isn’t for me. My whole body hurt from standing. The sink was full of bowls, utensils and baking tools to wash. And then I only earned a teeny weeny amount for each cookie or cupcake I sold. I just could not.


I don’t know if it was the wedding preps that got me busy or something else, but eventually I stopped.


In hindsight, that experience had to happen. Food Network and Good Housekeeping make it look so easy and relaxing to be a chef. Well maybe it is, for some, but not for me. If I didn’t get my hands dirty (literally and figuratively) and my hip hurting doing the job I probably would’ve ended up enrolling in a 1-year course only to find out that although these are real interests, doing it as a profession, every single day, is not something I’d be willing to do.


Kurly the Project Manager


A couple of months into my first job, I was assigned to organize our team’s annual teambuilding. How could I say no to my boss, I was new to the job! Haha. Just kidding. But seriously speaking, as someone who’s hungry to learn, I just loved the idea. With zero knowledge on project management, save for experience on thesis and maybe some event organizing in student council, I took on the task.


Months later, I was again assigned another project (on top of my role) and this time it was to lead the move of our operations from one floor to another, and later on from one building (and city) to another. Because my team’s work heavily relied on technology and other special infrastructure, this move had to be carefully planned to ensure zero or minimal impact to our operations. Without boring you with all the details, let me fast forward to say that the project was completed without issues.


It was through these “little” projects that I discovered my skill and potential in this area. It was also through these that I was able to showcase my leadership skills, which would probably go unnoticed if I had just stuck with web development and administration, as dictated by my job title. It was through actual involvement that I got promoted and was offered other opportunities eventually.


So what?


Some jobs (or job titles) look good on paper. Others look good on photos.

 If you are looking to switch to another career or profession and want to manage the risks that go with it, try getting your hands dirty and your feet wet first. Talk to people who have successfully shifted or who are currently in that profession. Enroll in short training programs or participate as an intern (yes, even if you’re not a fresh graduate). Volunteer for projects and talk to your manager about it.


If you are still uncertain of what you want to do, perhaps because you’re fresh out of the university or you’ve been in just one type of job, then get your curiosity up and try other things. A fun way might be to look into a list of professions or skills online and pick one or two you’d like to learn more about. Pre-pandemic, my friend and I went to Kidzania Manila one evening they opened it to adults. It was an awesome experience for me to get a feel of being a cable woman (climbing up the wall, oh gosh), performing a short dance at the clock tower when the clock struck 9pm, arranging a grocery shelf, making hotel beds and cleaning, painting a wall, and so on. Among these, it’s painting walls that I have continued doing til now. Yeah, I’d choose that over making the bed 🤪


Now what?


Bottomline…. Curious about something? Go out there, explore and give it a try.


It will not only give you the experience that you need on the job, but it will surely teach you something about yourself. Plus, you also manage the risk of jumping into something you’re not really sure of.

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