I think the most dreaded question in a job interview is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”. I’ve had serious vent sessions with previous colleagues about the absurdity of this very question. How are we supposed to know what job we’ll be in in five years? There is a huge portion of the job market that is evolving every single year, so how are we to know what is even going to be available in the next six months?
But timing can be a very funny thing.
Perhaps it’s coincidence. Perhaps it’s fate. Perhaps it’s divine intervention.
You see five summers ago I had just returned from my MBA study abroad trip. Our tiny group of six students traversed Europe, through Austria, Germany, France, and England, meeting with American and European companies to discuss their strategies of expansion within Europe. We met with Daimler in Germany to discuss the different branding strategies of Mercedes and the Smart Car. We went to the Harley Davidson headquarters in Oxford and learned about their European marketing strategy and how it differed from the strategy in the U.S.. We went to huge companies, private companies, and start-ups. I ate up every single second of it.
Then we came home and hosted a reunion in July so we could show our families and previous alumni of the trip what we learned. We also had members of the business community join us to convince them to donate to the scholarship fund for the trip. As I walked around the room talking to different people, I was asked about my hopes for my career and what my plans were moving forward. I was asked what I hoped to be doing in five years.
And part of me was heartbroken by this question. Because I knew what I REALLY wanted wasn’t in the cards.
I wanted to use my love of marketing to work in the international business community. But I was engaged to someone who was pursuing a career in the Army and I knew that military towns would have very little to offer me in terms of a business career. So I decided to pursue jobs in higher ed because I knew no matter where the Army moved us, I would be able to find some type of higher ed institution within a commutable distance. It wasn’t my first choice but it was still a good one. I was content with that plan.
So I pursued a job in higher ed and I think it was the best first job I could have ever had. I had autonomy and responsibility over huge projects…ones that I most likely wouldn’t have had in the corporate world. But after almost four years I realized there is a difference in doing something you believe in versus something you are passionate about. I obviously believe in higher ed and want to see it progress and succeed, but it’s not where my passions lie.
Now here I am….five years after that life changing trip. I’ve been in a two week process for interviewing for my dream job. The one I didn’t know existed when I was talking to all of those people at my study abroad reunion. A job that combines my love for marketing, event planning, international business, local community….all of it.
I woke up this morning, poured my coffee in my Oakland University mug, opened my email….and got the job offer.
Starting Monday (whoa this is happening QUICK) I will be the Events & Communications Manager for a non-profit in downtown Cincinnati that focuses on bringing European companies and jobs to the tri-state area. I’ll be working with American companies who need assistance with entering the European market place. I’ll be running events for European expats who live in Cincinnati and want to learn more about the community. And I’ll be running events for young professionals who have or want an international component to their career.
It’s interesting to see where five years can take you. I took the most round about path to get here but I got everything I could have hoped for in one job.
I don’t know how I got so lucky.