A month or so ago I started consulting a woman from my alma mater to figure out how to establish the GGTW scholarship. We discussed my own background and how I tried several different majors before getting into Health Service Administration. (Funny thing, it was what my dad always told me I should study, but it took me more than three years to figure it out! Sorry, Dad, I should have listened.) I mentioned that most college graduates I know are not even working in their field of study anymore. Having seen similar results among her colleagues, she said she was impressed that I was still in healthcare. She commented, “I wish more people in the Healthcare Administration field knew that they could do more than just work in a hospital.” Her statement stood out to me because, as a student, I had never considered any other use for my degree either, and when I graduated, that’s exactly where I applied for work—hospitals.
But that’s not at all where I ended up. I quickly discovered there was much more involved in healthcare administration beyond what I had learned in school. While my degree undoubtedly provided me with a solid foundation in healthcare, in knowing the meaning of the many acronyms, and a basic understanding of how our healthcare system works, I realized that my education was just a foundation. By expanding my view of the vast landscape known as the American healthcare system, I was able to find a use for my degree at two healthcare IT start-ups. I’ve never even worked at a hospital! Had I been shortsighted about employment opportunities, sticking only with what was safe and known (i.e., hospitals), I would not have achieved the success I enjoy today. I learned this valuable lesson early in my career: The world is a huge place, just begging for you to go get it!
So, what can you do to make the most of your education and experience? Here are a few quick tips to help you explore all of your options when looking for a role, and one way to forge your own path to greatness once you land it!
- Think big and outside of the safety box. Think about what field you want to be in, and then research the heck out of all of the companies in that industry. (Use good ol’ Google to your advantage!) Look at start-ups and non-profits, but also think about Venture Capital groups, research companies, and consulting companies. Discover the trends in the industry and get specific about the roles you like. In my case, I ended up working for a company that automated the prior authorization process in healthcare. What a niche! Without doing research in this area of healthcare, I never would have thought that this company even existed.
- Use a network, including GGTW. Network with experts in your industry. If you know them well and they know your personality and brand, they may have great recommendations about job opportunities. If you don’t know experts yet, use the GGTW mentors! We can connect you with the right women to help. 🙂
- Explore with abandon but be clear about where you’re headed. Be specific and honest about your skills and experience, as well as the type of culture in which you want to work. Clarity will be important for you to hone in on the right opportunities, so you won’t get lost exploring everything under the sun.
- Landed a job? Now what? If your dream job doesn’t currently exist where you work, that doesn’t mean it never will. When I was the first employee of a start-up, I never imagined the teams and roles that would be created by the time the company grew to over 500 employees! Be the go-to person for other teams, and always go above and beyond to find ways that you can make the company better. You’ll find that most people won’t say no to ideas that help the bottom line or keep customers. So when that new job does open up, you’ll be the one called to fill it!
(Of course, sometimes you will have to change companies altogether or go in a different direction with your career. That’s okay, too, provided you’ve thought through your options thoroughly and gained counsel from trusted colleagues. Stay tuned for another blog post on how you know it’s time to move on.)