No matter your passion or industry, starting your career or making a change does not have to feel like journeying through a galaxy far, far away. Technology, connection, and employment may have evolved over the years, but a few tips inspired by Star Wars hold true when it comes to launching your career into hyperdrive.
BE A GALACTIC EXPLORER AND UNCOVER THE UNKNOWN
Reflect on what truly interests you by asking questions like: What you are good at? What do you enjoy? What values are important to you? Is there anything about which you are particularly curious? Are there subjects you want to learn more about? What skills do you have to build on? When you wake up in the morning, what excites you?
There’s no need to answer all of these, but just like a galactic explorer sniffs out the farthest corners of the galaxy, don’t be afraid to take a closer look at those companies, roles, or even industries that may seem “out there.” After a bit of reflection, start researching industries, companies, and cultures that align with your interests, strengths, expertise, and values. What companies or roles stand out to you, and why? Start building your target list of those you might like to join.
USE THE FORCE AND TAKE INITIATIVE
After exploring and uncovering companies and roles that interest you, take initiative and use your many resources to begin gaining experience in your field of interest.
For example, research to see how resumes and LinkedIn profiles look in your selected role and industry. Get a first draft going, then reach out to a professor, mentor, colleague, or friend for feedback. If you are just beginning your career journey, then apply for internships to gain a variety of experiences from companies both big and small to see what environment works for you. If you are making a career pivot, seek out key companies and people with whom you might be able to team up for a specific project.
Finally, begin building your portfolio. Provide your own point of view on your industry in a blog post or published article, then share it on your social media outlets. For example, how might you improve a specific game, product, experience, or packaging design? Create your take on the solution, and be portfolio-ready with a clear point of view once you begin interviewing for roles. There are a number of free, easily accessible tools designed to empower creators to build their portfolio of work and point of view on the industry.
FORM A REBEL ALLIANCE AND BUILD YOUR NETWORK
Not everyone starts out with a fully connected alumni network or with friends and family in high places (I certainly didn’t). For most, it comes down to building your own network—or your own personal Rebel Alliance.
Read up on industry news, follow key leaders, and reach out to those people who inspire you, those whose work you are interested in, and those you might want to learn from. Reach out and connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, or another social outlet. Once connected, be clear about your goals, the value you bring, and why you’d like to connect.
While not everyone with whom you connect will be ready to hire on the spot, new connections may provide valuable advice or mentorship, or help connect you with others looking to build a team. Creating a strong network of people who share your values, career goals, and interests will only make you stronger and more connected. And remember, as you rise, help others rise too.
BE YOUR OWN HERO AND VALUE YOU FOR YOU
While we can’t all be a Luke Skywalker or Leia Organa, we can emulate our favorite Star Wars heroes and be our own champions. Do the right thing and turn in great work, speak up and consistently articulate your value and contributions. It’s those who speak up that earn the opportunities they deserve. You are your own best advocate, so get out there and shine a light on your value.
However, sometimes you can build a robust portfolio, be the highest performer, advocate for yourself, and still get knocked down or passed over for promotions. Should that happen, gather what you need and begin exploring other opportunities. It’s a big galaxy, after all.
The best-performing companies find talent, then do what they can to make sure that talent sticks around. As long as you value you for you, you’re more likely to find the company and culture that does the same.
A NEW HOPE
Time to cue the twin sunsets because in a world of uncertainty, there is always hope. My parting advice: live with an eye toward the future, never stop exploring, take initiative and lead the charge; connect with those who complement you, and value you for you.
Director of Strategy, Product Innovation uncovering cultural trends, designing next-generation product innovations and connected experiences