Figuring out what I want from my not-dream-but-pretty-awesome job

by Apr 3, 2020

While 2020 has gotten off to an extremely rocky start, and finding your dream job may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it’s always a good idea to really clarify what it is you want when you do head back out into the wide world of work. What do you value in your day? What can’t you do without?

There’s a lot of expectation and assumption around finding your dream job (aka the perfect role that requires minimum input with maximum benefits). I’m convinced that for 99% of us this doesn’t exist… and who ‘dreams’ of working anyway? My ideal life situation would be living in a forest somewhere, growing my own vegetables and reading books. Not working 9-5, no matter how great the job might be.

Clip from Portlandia, man in a dimly lit room saying there's no civilisation

Alas, going off-grid isn’t an option for me (yet), so I’ve been making a conscious effort to determine what I really want from my job and have made a list of them so that you can too!

A short commute

This may seem trivial to some but it changed my life. I went from a job that was 5 minutes door-to-door, to an hour and a half commute via car and train. Whilst I got through so many great podcasts, it was exhausting. I now only commute half an hour and my mornings are so much better for it (I actually get to eat breakfast!).

Black cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch eating pancakes

Perhaps you enjoy a long commute but, if you don’t, have a think about your current working location and the pros and cons of moving elsewhere.

Work-life balance is crucial

I think this one is high on most people’s checklist but it is a very important one. If your 9-5 doesn’t involve sitting on a beach with a Piña colada in hand, watching the waves break on the shore, then maybe your 5pm-9am should… or work should at least provide you with the leave allowances to make it happen!

Animation of man in a business suit holding an ice cream on a sunny beach

Flexible hours and the option of working from home are also things that you may want to consider when going for a new job in 2020. It’s all about knowing how you work best and ensuring your employer can provide you the means to do so.

Variety is the spice of life

I find that having a multitude of different things to do on any given day is great. A mixture of computer time, meetings, running around as event support or just delivering office supplies makes my day go so much faster and gives me an opportunity to dip my toe in to different areas.

Spongebob Squarepants frantically cleaning

Don’t get me wrong, variety can involve a lot of multitasking and juggling but, personally, I’d rather be feeling busy than glued to my screen or stuck in back-to-back meetings all day.

Think about what it is you enjoy in your day and whether that role you spotted on CareerHub would allow you the consistency or variety you want.

Challenge and growth

Having the opportunity to grow and diversify my skillset within a role is really important to me. I love the opportunity to learn new things and face new challenges. Whether it’s working with a system I’ve never used before or being asked to write an article for a blog despite never having written anything of note, I enjoy being given the opportunity to try new things and solve problems.

Miss Piggy the muppet bending jail bars

Consider this the next time you next submit a job application. Maybe go for a role that slightly takes you out of your comfort zone – you never know what could come of it!

A great team makes the hard days so much easier

Finally, this is one of the most important things for me and also the hardest to determine before starting the job. I’m so fortunate to work as part of such a fun and supportive team. Working 9-5, Monday-Friday sounded so gruelling at first but when you’re surrounded with people you like working with or can have an easy chat with in the kitchen, it can actually make you excited to get to the office and start your day!

Two female work colleagues laughing and saying they love each other

It’s hard to determine if you’ll be a good fit before you even apply for the role but this is what interviews are for. You can do some research (online or by asking around) beforehand to find out more about the company you’re applying for.

Time to start writing your own list

It can be daunting going for a new job when you have so many expectations or assumptions flying around in your head. Maybe you’re one of the lucky few who ends up being the lone caretaker for a deserted island, a powerhouse publicist in New York, a world famous pop singer or a Cadbury taste tester!

For the rest of us, it’s about finding rewarding work that suits our lifestyle and brings a bit of joy to our day-to-day. If the employees at Dunder Mifflin can find joy in their roles, you can too! Your first job mightn’t be as perfect or dreamy as you’d hoped, and your second may not either, but what you’ll learn from each of them is what you really want out of your working life.

Characters from the TV show The Office dancing

I’m very lucky to have an awesome job and work with a team of awesome people but it took me some time as well as a lot of searching and applying to find a working situation and role that perfectly suits me.

Here are some things you can do to start writing your list and find out if that job is what you want:

  1. Check CareerHub and other jobs boards and research the hiring companies that interest you, their policies and values can provide a lot of insight into their working culture.
  2. Look up employers and their organisations on LinkedIn to find out more about what’s going on in the company. A lot of organisations will have opportunities to learn more about them and their teams so look out for webinars or live streaming sessions where you can chat to recruiters.
  3. Try our Professional Mentoring Program to connect with industry and alumni mentors who can share their working experiences.
  4. Check out our online resources and try doing a Career Assessment to figure out more about your motivations, preferences and values.
  5. Take some time to write down your ideal working day from start to finish. It seems odd but it’s a great exercise for getting you thinking about your day-to-day working needs.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Alyssa Lumley

Alyssa Lumley

Operations Assistant

Alyssa is the Operations Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about helping people and always manages to put a fun and friendly spin on admin. Alyssa loves learning and developing new skills and working as part of a vibrant team that helps people to achieve their goals.