Why Your First Gig Shouldn’t Be Your Dream Job, with Mitch Matthews

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List.

I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black, from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about why your first gig shouldn’t be a dream job.

Many college students have high hopes for a dream job right after graduation. That’s the wrong approach, according to this week’s guest expert, Mitch Matthews.  

The better way is to experiment with what he calls bridge jobs. Mitch and I talk later in the show.

Sometimes we may know a job will be a hard one when we accept it. Other times we’re surprised. To help you avoid the unexpected, Ben has found a list of the best and worst jobs of 2017. In a moment, he’ll tell us which occupations made this year’s chart.

Why do employers ask workers to take on different unrelated jobs instead of hiring specialists to do each position? That’s our question of the week. It comes from listener Shabina Hussain of Orlando, Florida. Becky shares her advice shortly.

First, as always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team.

We’ll start with Ben, who, every week, is out there searching the nooks and crannies of the internet. Ben’s is looking for those websites, books, and tools you can use in your job search and in your career. Ben, what have you uncovered for our listeners this week?

Ben Forstag:

It’s December 27th. It’s the end of the year, which means that it’s time to review all of those year end lists: best of, worst of.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, and while this will be broadcast during the holidays, this is a list that has legs. People will want to pay attention to it no matter what the month.

Ben Forstag:

That’s true. The “best and worst of” list that I’m going to share with you this week is the best and worst jobs of 2017. This comes from CareerCast.

Long time listeners may remember that I shared this list of 2016’s best and worst jobs way back in episode 58. That originally aired in October, 2016.

I’ll tell you, you usually need to take these kinds of things with a grain of salt. That’s because generally they’re just opinion pieces, one guy’s idea of what the best and the worst movie, job, quesadilla, salmon fillet is.

Mac Prichard:

The bad burrito if you’re talking about lunches, right? Okay.

Ben Forstag:

Right. But you know, the reason I keep going back to CareerCast’s list year after year after year is, they have some really specific methodology that they use to compile both the best of and worst of lists. They look at things like environmental factors, stress levels, physical demands. They examine the average salaries and prospects for career growth. A lot of different variables get thrown into the algorithm to figure out what the best and worst jobs are.

I think this is a lot more scientific than those “best Disney princess” lists you might see on Buzzfeed, for example. Spoiler alert, it’s totally Moana.

Jessica Black:

I mean, I think so.

Ben Forstag:

According to my three-year-old son, it’s Moana.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, you’ve got more intelligence, more opportunities to get data here than I do.

Ben Forstag:

That’s true.

Jessica Black:

She’s the most modern and feminist. I like it.

Mac Prichard:

Alright, I like the sound of that.

Ben Forstag:

Transitioning to less important topics of career and work. Are you guys ready to hear what all this methodology came up with

Jessica Black:

Ready.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

 

Yes, let’s go.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Okay, I’m going to start with the good stuff, these are the best jobs of 2017.

 

Number one: Statistician.

 

Number two: Medical Services Manager.

 

Number three: Operations Research Analyst.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Are these based on…I’m just clarifying, are these best for salary? Long term? Longevity?

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Everything kind of gets mushed up into an algorithm.  

 

Jessica Black:

 

Oh okay. Just best.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Best career prospects, most opportunity, best salary.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Maybe not most exciting.

 

Ben Forstag:

Probably not. There’s a lot of data here and I think this was one of the things from last year too. People who are really good at understanding and organizing, and finding meaning in data, they can find work just about anywhere. Because data is the name of the game these days.

 

Should we go to the dark side and talk about the worst jobs?

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Yeah, this is your bottom three or top three?

 

Ben Forstag:

 

This is the bottom three, the worst jobs. I think mostly here, they’re talking about future growth prospects and salary.

 

The third worst job in 2017, according to Career Cast, not me, according to Career Cast, was broadcaster. Your local news reader.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Yeah.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Yeah, news broadcasters.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Number two: logger. This is certainly an industry that we know a little bit about here in Oregon. It’s slowly getting phased out, I think.

 

Jessica Black:

 

You think it’s getting automated?

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Automated and outsourced out of the country I think.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Yeah.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Then, Mac, do you happen to remember what the number one worst job last year was?

 

Mac Prichard:

 

I think it was newspaper reporter wasn’t it?

 

Ben Forstag:

 

It was newspaper reporter. For the second year in a row, newspaper reporter is the worst job in America.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Well they’ve been getting a beating this year, for sure.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Yeah. Becky, not to put you on the spot, do you want to lean in and tell us?

 

Becky Thomas:

 

I know, I’m the only one with that on my resume.

 

Yeah, I mean, it’s a tough gig in a lot of ways. Especially if their methodology includes salary, environmental issues.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Work life balance.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Stress levels. Those are all a little bit tough for those professional journalists, but I feel for them. It’s such an important job, too.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

It’s very important.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

I don’t want to lose it, but it’s hard, it’s really hard.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Yeah, my brother-in-law is a journalist for a local paper in Oregon.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Yeah, that’s right.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

He gave me a hard time last year when he heard this podcast.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Yeah, and he’s like, “Again? Come on.”

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Scott, I’m sorry if you’re listening. I’m sorry, man.

 

But yeah, again, this is not a moral judgement on these jobs, it’s just talking about what the economics are. I think the economics on something like a newspaper reporter is, you have to go to school for it generally. It’s hard to get into it and if you do get into it, there’s not a whole lot of career prospects for you long-term. The salary, unless you’re at the very top of the hierarchy, is pretty low.

 

They actually categorized two hundred jobs, both positive and negative, good and bad, on this list. I encourage you to check it out and see where your own career of choice lands you. I did not look for career podcaster on the list.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

It’s got to be near the top.

 

Jessica Black:

 

I think that’s growing.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Yeah.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Okay.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

It’s a fun gig, but it’s definitely a side project for us here.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Yeah, it doesn’t pay great, I’ll tell you that.

 

Jessica Black:

 

You’ve got to get in the ad game.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Yeah.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

That’s right.

 

Jessica Black:

 

If you want to get paid.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

If you want to check out the full list, it’s at CareerCast.com.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Great, well thank you, Ben. If you’ve got a suggestion for Ben, we’d love to hear from you. Write Ben directly. His address is ben@macslist.org. We may share your idea on the show.

 

Now, let’s turn to you, our listeners. Becky is here to answer one of your questions. Becky, what’s in the Mac’s List mailbag this week?

 

Becky Thomas:

 

This question came in via email from Shabina Hussain of Orlando, Florida. She says:

 

“I have observed managers and executives say that they are wearing more than one hat, instead of hiring new folks. Why is that practice so widely accepted?”

 

I think that there’s a couple things at play here.

 

There are definitely a lot of reasons why a company leader would be wearing many hats, and whether it’s a good reason or a bad one. But a lot of times, especially with managers and executives, they either have some speciality or area of interest, that makes sense for them to do more than one thing. Whether it’s based on their training, or their specialities, or whatever it might be. A lot of times, managers and executives are wearing more than one hat because they have to.

 

Whether it’s a small company with limited resources, or the organization isn’t scaling fast enough for leaders to get out of the day-to-day operations. A lot of times that’s one of the key reasons why a leader would be wearing many hats. That person also might be a work martyr.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

That happens, doesn’t it?

 

Becky Thomas:

 

“I must do these three jobs!” It’s like, “I’m staying late every night and that’s part of my persona”, or, “I will always suffer for my job.”

 

Jessica Black:

 

Slash, control freak.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Yeah, that’s the thing, a lot of times those folks just can’t delegate.

 

Jessica Black:

 

They can’t let go.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

They can’t let go of the things that they should be able to let go of. Which is something that I understand. But that’s a lot of times what it is. I think that whatever the reason, the fact that leaders in the organization that you’re looking at, what, if you’re a job seeker looking at that organization and they’re talking about how many hats they’re wearing. If it’s a badge of honor for them, that’s a sign for you, as the job seeker, to understand what the culture is. If the leaders are all frantic, or like, “I’m wearing a lot of hats just because I have to.” That’s sort of a red flag if you’re looking for something more stable. But at the same time, it could be a sign of, the business is agile, they’re all getting in there and chipping in. Sort of a start up situation. Maybe that’s something you’re looking for.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Yeah.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

It really just depends on where you’re at in your career. I don’t know, there’s lots of mixed opinions about whether it’s better to be a generalist or a specialist. A lot of times, those generalists are able to have more of a leadership skill that they can apply to more than one area. It’s okay to be wearing many different hats if you’re managing those areas.  

 

That’s some insight from my perspective. Do you guys have any other thoughts on that, wearing many hats, and if it’s good or bad?

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Well I think you were right about the causes of this; it’s money and management issues.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Yeah.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

People feeling they can’t or don’t want to delegate that power out to other folks.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Right.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

In terms of whether it’s good to wear many hats or not, personally, I like organizations where there’s some promise that I’m not going to be doing the same thing over and over and over again.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Agreed.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Where I don’t feel like a cog, doing one very narrow job, and then it gets passed on to someone else. I think part of that is my background in the nonprofit space, where everyone does everything. That’s just kind of the way it goes.

 

Jessica Black:

 

I was going to talk about that too, of the very, traditional nonprofit world where that’s just the case. Where everybody does everything. I mean, it’s like startups too, but…

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Yeah.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

I think as a hiring manager too, when I think about the people I’ve hired, there’s certainly a job in my mind and on paper that that person is going to focus on, but I think there’s a lot of value in people who have the interest, the passion, and the willingness to go outside of that a little bit. Have that ability to help out in other ways. It kind of reminds me of that debate about single-use kitchen utensils. You can go out to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and buy a tool that just cuts up avocados, that’s all it does. It’s not designed for anything else and it’s the best avocado cutter you could ever find. The question is, do you need a single tool that only cuts avocados when you have a knife in your drawer?

 

That’s just my take. Obviously you need to specialize in certain things, and the more niche your industry, your profession, the more you probably have to specialize.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Right.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Yeah.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

But I think there’s a big value in also being willing to be, and sometimes marketing yourself as, someone who can do other things as well.

 

Jessica Black:

 

I agree with all of that, and I think going back to the managerial and executive side of things, I read an article recently that was talking about people who are really good at doing and implementing…

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Executing, yeah.

 

Jessica Black:

 

…are not always great at managing. So oftentimes people move up the ladder into a managerial role, whether that’s by choice, or the organization calls for it and they get pushed into it. But maybe they are just executors at heart, and it’s not necessarily that they are control freaks, but they just haven’t developed that skill of being able to delegate, because their natural tendency is to just do it themselves.

 

Which, again, doesn’t make it a good thing. Again, I think it’s hard to compare if it’s good or bad. But it’s just a thing.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

Yeah, because management is a skill in and of itself.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Absolutely. It takes a lot of practice and development on your own as well. It is, as someone who is more of an executor, but has worked in leadership roles, it does take that conscious effort and dedication to make sure that you are taking that step back. You’re not just going in and doing it because you can, but learning how to delegate, and teach other people how, and to allow other people to grow underneath you.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Yeah, and I think there’s a question too here. I’m reminded of an essay we got at a class I took in graduate school. It was the last week and it was a course on public management. To your point about management, Jessica, the instructor said…it was an essay by Isaiah Berlin, and the question was, “Are you a hedgehog or a fox?” A hedgehog does one thing really well, a fox does a lot of different things. The question the instructor wanted us to think about is, as we thought about our own careers, it’s okay to go deep on a subject, or be a consultant or a specialist, or recognize where your strengths are, and your interests, but your strengths may lie in strategy, management, and juggling a lot of different balls.

 

People have different passions.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Absolutely.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

The key is to figure out which way you lie.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Absolutely.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Are you a hedgehog or a fox?

 

Jessica Black:

 

I think, going back to this specific question, really quickly, is going back to what you said, Becky, about the culture fit. Is this a place, when you are assessing if this is the right fit for you, and this is a really important question, because some people, they may thrive under that type of management. Other people wouldn’t. I think that that’s a really key component to bring it back to how you operate and are you going to be able to thrive in that environment?

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Yeah, I think that’s the bottom line in so many of these questions that we get from job seekers. You have to know yourself first, and you have to know what your needs are, and what you bring to the table.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Alright, great discussion. Thank you for that advice, Becky, and thank you, Shabina, for that question.  If you’ve a question of your own, please write Becky. Her address is becky@macslist.org. Or call the listener line, that number is area-code 716-JOB-TALK – or post your question on Facebook!

 

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere, our new book this year.

 

We’ll be back in just a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Mitch Matthews, about why your first gig shouldn’t be a dream job.

 

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Mitch Matthews.

 

Mitch Matthews is co-founder of the Big Dream Gathering, a serial entrepreneur, and a bestselling author.  

 

His Dream Think Do podcast helps people to dream bigger, think better, and do more.  And this January, Mitch publishes a new book, Dream Job: Redefined – The New Rules for Creating a Career That Matters & Doing Work You Love.

 

He joins us today from West Des Moines, Iowa.

 

Mitch, thanks for coming on the show.

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Mac, thanks for having me. Thanks for the great work that you’re doing too.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Oh, it’s a pleasure, and I know we’ll talk a little bit more about your work later in the show, but I had a chance to listen to your podcast and it’s terrific.

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Well thank you very much. That’s a true compliment from somebody who’s got the history and the success in this realm, so I appreciate it.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Yeah, and we do have to move on, but I do want to acknowledge that we both share Iowa roots.

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Oh we could go for an hour just on that, so yeah, you better move on.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Midwestern love fest here.

 

But our topic today, in fact, Mitch, is not Iowa; it’s why your first gig after college shouldn’t be your dream job.

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Yeah.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Now let’s talk about that, because I think, when I talk to undergraduates, or people who are making mid career changes, they want to find that right job. Especially if they’re coming out of college, right out of the gate, don’t they, Mitch?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Yeah, absolutely. Well, and that’s exactly what I found, and as a part of the research for my book, I did about two hundred interviews with people who would describe themselves as having dream jobs. One of the things that I found was, although they didn’t necessarily intend for this to be the case, none of them, and I mean none of them, found their dream job right out of the gate.

 

Time and time again, they told me they had to go out and try stuff. They had to experiment. They had to take those jobs, and we’ll talk a little strategy there too, but how to take those jobs where they could really learn more about themselves. Learn more about their craft, learn what they were passionate about.

 

It really took that first one, two, sometimes three jobs, to really help them hone in on what the dream job was and how to go out and achieve it, or create it.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Was that a deliberate strategy on their part, Mitch? Or did they learn that by happenstance? Because so many people I meet right out of college, if they don’t get that perfect job, they think, “Oh gosh, I screwed up. I’m doing something wrong.”

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Absolutely, and that’s one of the reasons why we throw this out. To say, “Don’t go after a dream job”, can sound a little discouraging, but it is absolutely based on this research, these experiences. But to your point, most of these folks, because they didn’t have people out there doing what you’re doing. For most of them, they just had to bumble along and find this out for themselves.

 

But that’s what they found, was that a lot of them, if they waited to find that perfect job and that’s that wrestling match. What is my dream job? I’ll go out and find it once I know what it is. But until then, I’ll just not do anything. It’s easy to get stuck, it’s easy to try to wait for the perfect thing. But what we’ve found is that purpose, that clarity on what the dream is, that only comes from process. That doesn’t come in a vacuum, that doesn’t come before you get started. That only tends to come as a result of going out and trying things and experimenting with things.

 

We’re a big advocate of what we call a bridge job. That’s one of the things we saw in so many of these people’s stories, was they didn’t necessarily find the dream job at first, they found what we call a bridge job. That’s a job that gets you to a dream job. The bridge job is different than a dream job in that it’s a little bit like when you think about basic construction. A bridge is very important, it’s designed to get you somewhere, but it’s not necessarily something that’s very comfortable. It’s not necessarily something that you want to stay on for a long period of time, versus a dream job. You know you’ve found a dream job when it feels like home. When it feels like a place you want to stay for a long time.

 

To be able to say, “Alright, I’m going to look for a dream job”, or excuse me, “I’m going to set my sights, I’m going to decide that someday, in fact, I’m going to have a dream job. But for right now, I’m going to go after a bridge job, and as I do that, I’m going to focus on what we call a MEAL plan.”

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Let’s talk about those bridge jobs. How you find them, and how you know it’s going to get you where you want to be, at that dream job. How does that work, Mitch?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Yeah, absolutely. Some of the things that we saw, the commonalities with effective bridge jobs, was to identify what we call a MEAL plan, to be aware of the MEAL plan. Now, I say MEAL plan… MEAL plan is an acronym for meal, but I always also say, especially for recent graduates, “If you tell your parents you got a job with the meal plan, that will allow them a sigh of relief, like, ‘Oh they’re doing it right.’”

 

But the MEAL plan in this case, though, is a little different. What we’re talking about is that bridge jobs allow you the MEAL plan, in that it’s all about who that job will allow you to meet, what it will allow you to earn, what it will make you available for, and what it might allow you to learn.

 

It’s meet, earn, be available for, and learn. If you’re focused on those types of things, you’ll maximize those bridge opportunities. Sometimes, it’s about going out and getting a bridge job, but sometimes, and I know some of your folks that are listening are in a job now and are thinking about a career transition. You can actually retrofit a current job to make it an affective bridge job as well by keeping the MEAL plan in mind.  

 

Mac Prichard:

 

So two questions I’m sure our listeners will have is, first, “How do I figure out what my dream job is?” Because I’m guessing you need to know that to pick the bridge jobs that get you there. Second, “How long does this process typically take?” You talked about perhaps two, three jobs. Is it a three, five, even a seven-year journey, Mitch?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

It really depends on the person. I would love to be able to say, “This is a one year plan.” For some it is a shorter process, but for others it’s a longer process because a part of answering your first question, “What is the dream job and how do you figure that out?”, comes as a part of this process as well. What’s interesting about so many of the folks I interviewed with was, they started with an essence of what it was they thought they wanted to do. Maybe they were passionate about leadership, or maybe they were passionate about crunching numbers, they just loved that. Or maybe they were passionate about, or really good at, organizing people, or organizing process. They had an essence of it.

 

But what I’ve found was most people were more aware of the roles that they were interested in as opposed to the titles. Titles can get you wrapped around the axle a little bit. There’s certain jobs, certain industries that are a little bit more clear cut. Butcher, baker, candlestick maker, type of titles exist. An accountant, a sales executive, those kinds of things. Those titles are a little bit more clear.

 

But what I found with most of the people I interviewed was they were actually in roles now they didn’t even know existed when they started the process. They only became aware of them as they pursued more of that essence of what they were shooting for. They knew what they were passionate about and they were starting to get more and more clarity on that as they continued to work towards it. But a part of the process is figuring it out as you go.

 

Which I know, it’s so hard. I’m a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionists, we love to have the whole thing figured out before we even get started. If you’re a perfectionist and you’re listening to this, man, that can be tough to here. But giving yourself a little permission to say, “I’m going to commit to experimenting. I’m going to commit to learning as I go.” That’s what’s going to continue to allow you to go after this and find that dream job.

 

I’ll give you an example, if it’s okay.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

That’d be great.

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

One of the people that I interviewed, he’s an executive vice president for college humor. His name is Spencer Griffin. Now he was committed to finding something that he loved. He came out of college with a degree in business and a minor in theatre. He was not necessarily the best business person that he knew and he wasn’t the most creative theatre person that he knew. But he was definitely the best business person he knew of in the theatre department. He was definitely the most creative person he knew in the business department. He said, “I kind of felt like I had this hodge-podge of skills compared to everybody else”, but he said, “I just had this essence of what I wanted to do.” He started to pursue bridge jobs that allowed him to try different things. They allowed him to work on his creativity but they also allowed him to work on his organizational skills and his business skills. Those types of things.

 

He took an executive assistant role for awhile. He took a PA role where he came alongside a producer and helped them produce. He also took a role for a while that allowed him to travel and organize events. As he was doing these various bridge jobs, he was learning that, again, he wasn’t necessarily the best business person he knew, he wasn’t necessarily the best theatre person that he knew, but he was especially good at organizing creatives. He was especially good at being able to translate business concepts to creatives. To people in the entertainment industry. To those folks that maybe didn’t have a business background.

 

He said, “I actually got really good at organizing creative people”, and he didn’t know that when he started the process, but because he gave himself that permission to experiment and grow, it allowed him to then get into college humor, which was then growing at the time. But he worked himself into an executive vice president role with college humor, and he’s just been killing it ever since. But he said that if he had waited to know what the dream job was to then pursue the dream job, he said, “I never would have gotten into what I’m doing now.” He said, “I only clarified that by going out and trying some things.”

 

That’s what I always want to encourage people to do. Get out there and experiment, commit to starting the process, and that clarity will come as you stay committed to digging in.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

What’s striking about that story, and it’s a terrific one, is he didn’t sit down, five, seven years ago, and write, “Okay, I want to be the executive vice president at CollegeHumor.com and these are the steps that are going to get me there over the next three, five, eight years.” He had to take a leap of faith, didn’t he?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Absolutely, and actually, a dose of humility as well. Because when he came out of college, he did real well in college, but it’s one of those things where he said, “I’m going to take a couple of roles.” Some of his bridge jobs didn’t have real flashy titles. He even, in our interview, said that he had to swallow his pride a little bit. Because a couple of his friends went out and got really good paying jobs they were not passionate about. He said, “I watched some of my friends buy really nice cars, and start renting really nice apartments, start to buy nice houses. I was still in these roles where I knew I was learning, I knew I was growing, but my bank account wasn’t growing as fast as some of my friend’s were.” He said, “I look back now and see that they were dying on the vine and they started that process right after school. They just said, ‘Alright, I’ll take whatever somebody is willing to pay me’, and they committed to more of the monetary side of it.” As opposed to where Spencer dug in and said, “I really want to grow. I want to pursue, I want to clarify.” As he did that, he got more and more clear on his passions, and that actually worked out real well for him.

 

I can tell you story after story where it was that type of approach. Where they decided, they committed, to say, “Alright, what kind of positions can I take where I can meet the right types of people? Where I can earn enough money to be able to still grow, still pay my bills, all of those things? What kind of position could I be available then to learn some things on the side, take some classes, find a mentor, those kinds of things? Or those position that will allow you to learn the things that will help you to keep growing as well.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Now, Mitch, I want you to take us through quickly, the MEAL acronym. Meet, Earning, Availability, and Learning. But before we do that, what would you say to listeners who having heard that story about the gentleman at CollegeHumor.com who might be uncomfortable with the uncertainty and the risk that’s involved in this approach?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Absolutely. Well, here’s the beautiful part of this is that, I am actually a recovering perfectionist, and I’m also a recovering worrier. So worry comes very easy to me. I love the scientific method because it stresses the power of experimenting. It stresses the power of going out and trying things and learning from them. But I also love something called The Two L’s of Science. That is, learning fast and limiting risk. Taking the bridge job approach, I think, actually limits your risk much more than waiting till you have your dream job figured out.

 

We’re not talking about you haphazardly going out and just taking any job. What we’re talking about is being able to say, “Let’s be strategic.” What are those positions that will allow you to, again, meet the right people, or earn what you need? It’s not just throwing caution to the wind. I can certainly give you another example of this.

 

We had someone I interviewed, was named Diego Corza, and he graduated from school, he wasn’t quite sure what his dream job was. He had gotten his degree in I.T. and coding. He was very good at it, but he just had a sense that that wasn’t quite the dream. He went and got a nice job with GM, they moved him to Texas, and he just committed to learning as he went. That meant for him, continuing to develop his skills, continuing to bring excellence to the coding world for GM. But he also tried different things. He took classes at night, sometimes completely unrelated to his current career. He also started looked around to say, “Who’s doing things that interest me?” He found someone in the real estate world, he met with them a couple of times really fell in love with that industry, and actually said, “Hey, what would you say to me just driving you around?” It was a real estate agent and he said, “What would you say if I just drive you around on the evenings and on the weekends, just so I can learn what it is you do? I’ll even help you with the website if you need it.”

 

But he basically just offered his services just so he could be in proximity to this person who was doing something that was interesting to him. Now his job allowed him to do that; he worked a full schedule, an eight to five schedule. But at nights and on weekends, he did this extracurricular type of activity. That interest started to grow and it turned into his passion. He actually started to build a real estate business on the side and just a few years ago, actually, he was able to leave the GM position as now a record breaking real estate agent in Texas.

 

But for him, that bridge job was something that paid him very well. Allowed him to actually buy a home and even do some real estate investing, all of those things. He wasn’t throwing caution to the wind, but he was committed to learning and growing and even trying some new things. That’s what allowed him to uncover that passion that he’s walking out today.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Well let’s quickly go through the four parts of the MEAL approach. Now, the first one is meeting. Give our listeners some quick tactical tips here of how they can apply this idea of meet. What do you have in mind there?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Absolutely. Meeting, sometimes it’s a matter of, when you’re in an organization, if you’re retrofitting a current job, or you’re looking at other opportunities for a new job or whatnot, to be able to say, “Alright, what kind of people are working within this organization? What types of people could I meet?” If you’re already in the position, being able to say, “Alright, who could I be meeting?”, and reaching out. It’s so easy to silo, you know how it is within any organization. To be able to say, “Who could I meet? Who’s doing interesting things within this organization?” To reach out and do a coffee, or reach out to do a lunch. Just get to know people in your organization.

 

So many of the people that I interviewed had done that within organizations. That allowed them to grow their network in a short period of time and really be exposed to a lot of different areas within a lot of different industries, even working within the same organization.

 

Meeting – who can you meet within that – can be a real eye opener.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Alright, so let’s talk about E, Earning. What are some practical tips there, Mitch?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Absolutely. With Earning, a part of it is to be able to say, what are your financial needs? For some, the financial needs aren’t great, so the earning (I always think of these things as quadrants), the earning might be smaller. I know for me, as an example, when I was looking at making a career transition and I wanted to launch my own business, at that season of my career, earning was very important. We were living sitcom life, single income, two children, impressive mortgage. I couldn’t just throw out the earning, the earning was very important. I had to find something that allowed us to cover expenses, and pay for our mortgage, and all of those things. That was important for me.

 

That was important, but I also looked for a position that would allow me some flexibility which helps us to move into that availability component. So for me, I went from a corporate training position, I was in a home office situation, to moving back out to a sales position. All of a sudden, the availability aspect… the earning aspect was taken care of, but for me, what made it more enticing was the availability. It allowed me to actually be in my car, it allowed me to be more flexible. I could listen to books on cd and those kinds of things. Really learn, and grow, and have a more flexible schedule than I’d had before.

 

That position allowed me to again, check off the earning box, but also allowed me the availability that I needed to start doing some of those things that I wanted to do on the side.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Great. Well let’s talk about the final letter in the MEAL acronym. Learning. Again, what are some tips for listeners there?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Absolutely. Oftentimes it’s being able to look for opportunities where you can really learn something that you are wanting to pursue professionally. I know I was actually able to interview Sara Haines, who was on Good Morning America, she is now a regular on The View. For her, she came out of college and she knew she wanted to be in the entertainment business but she wasn’t quite sure what it was. Like Spencer, she was wrestling with knowing a general area but wasn’t entirely sure what it was that she wanted to do.

 

She actually found a position with the NBC page program. It was not glamorous, it was not easy. She was sitting people in the studio, she was ordering sandwiches, doing the basics of scheduling, those kinds of things. But it got her access to so many different things; where she was in the room where some of those things she dreamed of doing were happening. Now she wasn’t a notable person in the room but she had access. She could also be learning from people who were doing what it was that she wanted to do. She took that job although it was low pay and not a lot of glamour, but it was one of those that paid off for her in spades as she started to learn what she needed to learn to move from sitting people in the audience to being in front of the camera. She earned herself a position on the Today show, which then got her to Good Morning America, and then onto The View as well.

 

It’s that whole thing of being able to say, “What could you learn from that position?” It may not be super glamorous, but at the same time, what will it allow you to learn so you can continue to move forward, get that clarity that you need, help you clarify what is the dream job and continue to pursue it?  

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Well, great advice. Now tell us, what’s next for you, Mitch?

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Absolutely. Well, as you mentioned, the book that is the culmination of all of these interviews and some of the things that we’ve been learning, is coming out soon. That is, Dream Job: Redefined. So we’re excited about that, and we’ll continue, as you mentioned earlier, we have Big Dream Gathering, and we continue to do those events all around the country. Helping people get clear on their dreams and going after them and get the help they need to make them happen.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Well congratulations on the new book. I know people can also learn more, Mitch, about you and your work by visiting mitchmatthews.com. Mitch, thanks for being on the show today.

 

Mitch Matthews:

 

Thank you so much, Mac. Keep up the great work.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Yeah, take care.

 

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. What did you folks think of my conversation with Mitch? Quick reactions?

 

Jessica Black:

 

He had such good energy. It was so fun.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Yeah, I love the Midwest vibes.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Oh yeah.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

It’s clear that he really cares about people finding what they want to find and finding their happiness, whatever form that’s going to take.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Talking to people. He clearly loves hearing other people’s success as well.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Right.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Which is awesome. It just comes through.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

It really rung true to conversations I remember having in my own head and then later on with my younger brother, when he got out of college. Particularly that part about, “All of your friends are out doing what they said they wanted to be doing. They’re all going to law school or they got jobs in business. They all seem to have a purpose, and you, you’re just floating, wondering what’s next.”

 

Jessica Black:

 

Yeah.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

I just, I didn’t know this at the time, it took me the better part of a decade to figure it out, but I remember when my brother graduated from college, he had the same experience. I was like, “You don’t need to know what you want to do. Just start trying things out, take a job and if you stay there for six months, oh well. You’ll go do something else.” That was a message that he wasn’t ready to hear right then. So he floated too for a little bit and I think that’s normal. I think a lot of people do that.

 

But if anything, I would just rename this show; instead of, Your First Job Shouldn’t Be A Dream Job, it would be more like, Your First Job Probably Isn’t Going to Be A Dream Job. If it is, that’s great. If you can swing that. But that’s really to figure out what you want to do. Frankly, to figure out all the options that are available, you need to get your feet wet somewhere. Practicing, just doing things.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Yeah. That’s really well said, because that’s exactly what I was thinking. It really hit pretty close to home, because I was definitely that person that didn’t know…I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what to major in, and all of that stuff. That external, you look around at people who…

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Comparing yourself to others?

 

Jessica Black:

 

Right.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

Yeah.

 

Jessica Black:

 

That do have that very clear linear path, who want to be a lawyer, so they know exactly which steps to take to get to that job. Then when you don’t know what the end result is, it’s really hard. You meet people and they want to help you to figure it out, like, “What kind of jobs can I put you in touch with?” You’re like, “I don’t really know.” But I did the same thing of just doing the learning approach.

 

Definitely took a lot of the roles that Mitch was talking about in terms of, sometimes you’re not going to make a lot of money, or it’s not going to be the glamorous titles, and those kinds of things. But I really liked his analogy about the bridge. But it’s the stepping stones to get yourself there and, that’s just the way I learned too. Learning as I go, and everything can look good on paper.

 

You want to be a…you know, whatever it is, and then you get into that role and you’re like, “Oh, this is not what I thought it was. This is not what I want to do.” But then you take everything on, and you learn exactly what lights you up, and you learn what you’re good at, what different avenues come across based on what you jump into. Which is a good way. That’s what helped me, and I came out the other side, which is good.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

You did, and I think we’re all going to change jobs, five, ten, maybe even fifteen times in our careers, so embrace it. The change is inevitable.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Absolutely. Learn while you’re at it and have fun.

Ben Forstag:

 

I think that underlines this whole idea of, “Oh it’s less stable, and less secure” to go for this bridge approach. I mean I think the truth of the matter is that there’s no such thing as job security for anyone. If you have your dream job you might lose your dream job next week. I think that embracing this, “I’m going to try different things”, worst case scenario, you develop a whole bunch of different skills and you’re not that single-use avocado cutter that we talked about before.

 

Becky Thomas:

 

Full circle.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Well, and I think that some people, even coming right out of college, they think that they know what their dream job is and they get stuck in this role, or they go down this path because they’re chasing this title that they think is what they want to do. Then it’s hard to change your mind or hard to let yourself realize that maybe it isn’t what you really want to do because you’ve had your mind set on it for so long. Of “This is my dream job, this is what I want to do, this is what my identity is”, then you realize twenty years down the road that it’s not your dream job and then you’re lost.

 

I would rather do the wandering on the front end and get on the more solid, “I’ve done all the things that I need to know because I’ve experienced it.” Rather than just this headstrong, “This is it, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.” Then all of the sudden wake up one day and realize you’re miserable.

 

Ben Forstag:

 

You’ve just described half the people who went to law school.

 

Jessica Black:

 

Absolutely. I know a lot of people that did that. Anyway, everybody is different.

 

Mac Prichard:

 

They are indeed.

 

Well, great conversation. Thank you all, and thank you, Mitch, for joining us this week, and thank you, our listeners, for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

 

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Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Jessica Sweet. She’ll explain what to do if you hate your job.

 

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

Early career failures, frustrations, and delays can feel defeating. But the truth is, almost everyone struggles early on. On this podcast, you’ll learn about bridge jobs, and why they matter to your ultimate career happiness. Embrace new challenges in your first few jobs as opportunities to learn about yourself, and forge a path toward your dream job.

About Our Guest: Mitch Matthews

Mitch MatthewsMitch Matthews is co-founder of the Big Dream Gathering, a serial entrepreneur and bestselling author. His Dream Think Do podcast helps people to dream bigger, think better, and do more.  And this January Mitch publishes a new book, Dream Job: Redefined – The New Rules for Creating a Career That Matters & Doing Work You Love.

Resources in this Episode