Next Steps. Developing a Plan B
By Eirini Chaddon
Although I always struggled to figure out “what I wanted to do when I grew up,” I always knew I wanted to live and work in Greece. I had family there, was a Greek citizen, could speak the language and had traveled there many times. This desire influenced my choice in graduate program as well as my major and minor.
Once I started graduate school, this vision became my goal and ultimately impacted most of my career choices. I enrolled in a one-year accelerated master’s program at the University of Florida and from the start I focused on reaching out to my friends and family, letting them know of my goal to move abroad. I constantly asked my network questions including: Does anyone know someone there who could help me? Do they know of any jobs in the area?
When I started receiving unwanted advice about how it “may not work out how I anticipate” or “to plan for the unexpected,” I just tuned it out and kept going. Part of this was lack of experience on my part and the other was not being fully prepared.
Listen to Your Career Center’s Advice
In my conversations with my career counselor, I always came in with updates of whom I spoke with and was eager to find out new ways to connect with the next person. I was determined to find a job in Greece and was motivated to keep searching.
While my career counselor answered my questions at hand, she also took the conversation a step further and asked me to research jobs locally in addition to my job search abroad. Many of our conversations had follow-up questions like: Have I started networking or applying for any jobs in the area? Have I considered in what industry I would like to focus my skills?
When I attended career events or workshops offered by the career center, I only sought out opportunities abroad and didn’t consider the advice offered by the center. I’ve learned that as a student these are valuable resources available to you at a time you need them the most in your career. Be intentional with your time and take advantage of them while it’s available to you.
Importance of “Plan B”
As the school year moved along, I managed to sell all my belongings, purchase my plane ticket and collect some savings as well. By the time graduation arrived, I had several interviews lined up in Greece and was sure I would be leaving the USA for good to start my new life. Once I arrived in Greece, I realized that despite being a Greek-American, I knew nothing about job search in Greece. CV’s were a must, interviews were conducted in Greek and were unlike the American interview, and the rate of pay is comparably very low to average American rate of pay. After four months of exhaustive job search, I was offered two jobs, however the pay and hours required could not allow me to accept either position. I painfully had to return to the USA. I realized I didn’t even have a starting point to conduct a new job search. Until this point, all of my effort was placed on “Plan A,” and I never gave thought to developing a “Plan B.” Finding career events as an alumni was much more challenging, especially when you are not prepared and are unsure what you would like to focus on. It took me about a year to eventually find my direction. I returned to the career center for the guidance I initially rejected and eventually started volunteering at there while job searching. This added not just to my resume, but eventually led me to develop new experience, passion and opened up doors to my career today. While having goals are great, don’t be narrow in your expectations and allow them to blind you. Goals should guide you and be flexible; not be the reason you miss out on potential opportunities ahead of you.