My Story – I’m a Complete Package

31/08/2013 20:34

There is this thing. Everybody has a tendency to look at their educational and career path with certain logic. The two things have to be connected. And if they are not, you end up being bombed by questions like ‘how did you end up there’, or ‘why the hell do you do what you do, if you studied this’. I’m one of these folks who gets constantly asked about the connection between my current job and my educational background. Let me explain you in this personal monologue why after graduating from my degree I started to do what I do and why I think there is a logical path between the two.


By educational background I’m modern historian/political scientist. I did my degrees because I liked the topic; history and social sciences have been always my favorite fields and I have enjoyed developing ideas and opinions around diverse subjects. Because I love Spanish, I naturally ended with the topic related to Spain – the Basque autonomy. This one I then compared to South Tyrolean in my master thesis and by using my research and analytical skills I came up with interesting conclusions. I enjoyed my topic, I really did, especially writing my master thesis. Anyway, I never considered applying for a job in the public sphere, international organizations or NGO sector which would be for the most of people a logical continuation after completing my degree.


I always wanted to work in a private company, check out how business works and later after gaining some experience to become entrepreneur. And here you may ask: ‘Why did not you go to business school then?’ Well, first of all, I was not 100 % sure about my direction up until my second degree. Things developed for me. Second, I simply started to study something I liked with a clear aim to develop certain soft skills and ability to think and argue, which I successfully did. I do not see why your degree should be related to your future job by the topic. It should be related above all by skills and personal attributes you are using. And honestly I don’t believe any business school would help me to gain my current skills.


Importantly, during my studies I was actively taking part in numerous extracurricular activities which allowed me to develop additional skills that are usable in private firms. Among others organizational, leadership and communication skills, which are the top skills I now use on a daily basis. This clearly distinguished me from other students who either just focused on their studies, or rather took an opportunity to work part time and do internships. Needless to say that most of students (and unfortunately, I still see this as a continuous practice) simply decided to do nothing else just out of laziness. And it were mainly these people who kept asking me: ‘Petra, why you spend so much time with these activities, why do you care about this.’ Just for the record, these activities involved student clubs and unions, academic senates, organization or this and that…in a nutshell, I became one of these visible student leaders who were adding value to the student environment.


And here is where the dots get connected. To answer the question of my dear classmates, I did all these activities because I have always cared about my personal development. Before getting enrolled to the university, I was a typical outsider – an introverted girl standing at the back with a low level of confidence. Where I am right now is a result of a precise work on my skills and confidence. I have put myself into situations which were naturally challenging and very uneasy to overcome (like public speaking in a foreign language, organization of big events, taking own responsibility of and putting my own name under multiple projects). This all fostered my character, my self-esteem and helped me developed skills which I would not gain just by studying. To be correct, I did have actually one serious part time job, but it was very different from what you would typically expect from a social sciences student. I worked in the zoo! And you know what? It was great. It was relaxing, fun, I loved animals and learned a great deal about how is it to have a big responsibility for something.


Together with this experience I have become a full package and as such I presented it in front of employers: I’m the one with well-developed organizational and communication skills, great sense of responsibility, with ability to run research and analyze data, all because of this kind of experience and so on and so on… In other words, I sold all above as a complete package showing logical connections between each experience letting the employers know that I was self-aware and that I knew why I was doing this and that and how it enriched my character and knowledge.


Therefore, if something makes sense to you and if you are able to present it as a complete package, then there are no limits in terms of degrees and future career paths. My advice to you is short: Do not limit yourself to pure university degrees. The topic of your degree does not define your career path. It is the value you perceive behind it what matters. And then you just sell it. I ended up working in human resources at a logistics company after pursuing degrees in International Studies and Nationalism Studies. And it makes total sense to me. I use my adhered skills and I use them well. Yes, I changed the jargon and had to learn some new things. But isn’t that exciting thing about life? There is always something new to learn and for me this is one of the biggest motivators to move forward in my career.


Take care of yourselves!




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