Five Tips for Following Your Passion in NYC

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Cara-Lynne Thomas is currently a graduate student at Bank Street College studying Museum Education. She is an educator at the American Museum of Natural History, and an intern in event planning for college students at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Cara is also an artist focused on sculpture, working and showing at the National Academy in Manhattan. She holds an MA in Classical Archaeology from Tufts University and a BA in Anthropology and Classical Archaeology from the University of Texas at Austin.

It can be daunting to follow your dream in New York.  Your “career path” may be so winding that you’re not sure where it’s headed, and you may feel uncertain about how what you love translates to a career.  Here are five tips that have helped me as I follow my passion in the city:

1. Volunteer

Is there an organization where you would love to work after graduation?  See if you can volunteer there now!  It’s a good way to build contacts and skills while you’re still in school, often with a low or flexible time commitment.  I have gotten several jobs out of volunteering!

2. Learn everything you can about your dream job

Do your research!  What’s the education background of people with that job?  What skills are necessary before applying?  Find people who have a job you want and look at their backgrounds (many CVs are available online).  If you meet someone with a job you would love to have, don’t be afraid to ask them about their backgrounds; many people are happy to help.  This way you have a clearer idea of what may be expected of you in the future, so that you can plan for it now.

3. Take time for yourself

Meditate, work out, walk in a park, binge watch TV.  Doing something just for yourself can help keep your head clear.  Additionally, find ways to make something you love even a small part of your day; give yourself little reminders for why your hard work is worth it!

4. Trust your intuition

Have a feeling in your gut that you should do something totally new?  Go for it!  The same goes for negative feelings, even if something sounds great, but you have a bad feeling about it, listen to yourself.

5. Become okay with failure

Your setbacks are part of your path, and you may find yourself with new (and better!) opportunities because something else didn’t work out. For people following their passions this can be extremely difficult, because we tend to place a lot of our self-value on our work and see professional setbacks as personal failures.  It’s cliché, but life isn’t about never failing, it’s about how you recover from failing.   It can be hard to remember that in the midst of a setback, but with resilience you can be successful.