***These are things you want to have most from your work (your ideal scenario). HOLD FAST TO THESE IDEALS, but be adaptable. The combination of many or all of these (or any, quite often in the corporate world) is rarer than rare, but does exist somewhere for you - if not now, then down the line; if not working for someone else, then for yourself; if not in your city, then elsewhere; if not in your industry, then in one where you could make a big impact (now or later). Keep searching, keep plugging away, but always look for these things in any job, even as you temper your idealism with a strong dose of common sense and reality (BUT YES, BE DEMANDING, DAMN IT!). **From work, you want:
Challenges to which you will rise, repeatedly Meaningful, detailed and regular feedback from your supervisor A mentor or three (not generally your boss) - a person who hears you out, points the way and checks in with you periodically on your progress, for life The feeling that you're doing something meaningful and helpful for people Praise - but not empty praise, neither too often or too seldom A boss that wants to help you learn and do well in the job and company and move up Colleagues that have interesting and meaningful things to say and that you can work with together effectively as a group to build great products that change the world A job that pays you at least a living wage to do your best work, learn a lot about the field, company and role, how to become an expert/leader/manager, so you can move up
**CRITICAL QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: Above title, salary, even industry and company, figure out what ROLE you want to play in an organization:
Expert - everyone comes to you for particular knowledge; nobody in the place knows the subject better than you do
Organizer - you love order and hate disorder; you love to bring people together for things to happen - ideas, plans, etc.
Manager - you love to manage people and/or projects, tell people what to do and how and when, you love pressure
Chief Executive/CEO - you're always thinking strategically, how to make things better, how the conventional thinking is wrong, how to improve performance (yours and others'), how to change an industry, how to apply the tools from one field in another, how to meet people that challenge your thinking, how to make the world better, faster, more efficient, through human and machine effort. You're a Big Ideas Guy/Girl, a visionary (or at least have visions ;) and always have been.
Operator/COO - you put ideas into practice - you execute, get involved in all the down-and-dirty of running a company.
Problem Solver (The Wolf) - they call you in when all others have failed. You crave pressure, know your stuff, can bring your knowledge and people to bear on very short notice and GSD (get shit done).
Rainmaker - you have charisma, love to shmooze and entertain and tell stories and have an uncanny ability to get people to open their wallet. You're generally very confident and smooth-mannered reliable for doing your job well and command a high price.
The Helpful One - people come to you for a shoulder to cry one, you like to led an ear, give solace and good advice on how to get better and send people on their merry way, reassured.
-> Few people are purely one or another of these roles - there's always a mix. Nevertheless, there's usually a prevalent strength for one of these roles and the others are harder for you to fill. -> Role will usually go by personality. Take a personality test, if need be, and find which role should suit you best. Even better, shadow or intern with people in the role(s) you think make most sense for you. See how each makes decisions, how they get to work with people, how their day goes, how much of what they do is interesting to you, etc. Learn by observing, ask smart questions, do your research.
This process of figuring out your role takes a while for most people, not long for others. Start it ASAP, if you haven't yet!!
Ask questions on QUORA - you'll get high-quality answers. - -
Once you've figured out your preferred role, find out how a person in that role is qualified, how they got their job, what training they needed - practical, not just academic, who are the experts and most respected people in the field. Read their writings often, seek mentors, ask questions in person and online. Be curious, read all the time on that subject area.
Always evaluate and re-evaluate your goals, ambitions, plans, organization, projected timeline, ways to get a challenging experience, and how close you are to your dream job. Don't settle.
Consider (if affordable) Ramit Sethi's Dream Job course if you're set on getting your dream job. Ask people in the field for advice.
**If you find that starting and running your own company is for you (you're either worked in a startup before or know exactly what you're getting into - THIS IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT FOR EVERYONE), starts revenue-producing business on the side. Don't quit your day job unless you have at least a 6-month financial cushion, ideally. The risk must be CALCULATED. Consider Ramit's Earn1K course. Build a lean MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT (after finding there's real demand for what you're building), A-B test it, and best of luck! You'll be wearing most or all of those ROLE hats described above. Ambitious devil you ;)