I wish I had heard that it’s okay to have no career goals more often in university.
I ended up taking inspiration for my career from my surroundings rather than having a predefined idea of what I wanted to do. When I was 18, I walked up to my dad and said, ‘I want to go to university for theatre!’ - sheepishly grinning since my dad had worked for the Toronto Opera and the Stratford Festival. I wanted to make him proud with my decision. Drama was also the only subject I wasn’t bored with in high school.
I still remember the package I got from the University of Waterloo with ‘YOU’RE IN!’ in big letters on the front and feeling ecstatic about starting my degree. I actually performed the role of Beth in the Health Services-produced Single & Sexy before eventually being offered the role of stage manager for the show, and felt much more at home as the latter. That’s when my passion for arts admin started.
I had a bit of a crisis of career when I graduated (drama kids are… tiring), and decided to move to Scotland for a year to think things over rather than make any serious decisions. This is when I started to realize that I didn’t really have goals in the way that others around me did (I was friends with a lot of engineers at UWaterloo). I began to follow what I liked doing rather than a specific industry, and had an inkling that film might be more fun in particular. I started volunteering, did some work on film sets, and then found myself yearning for a desk in an office. I picked up some contracts at film festivals, feeling fulfilled but also frustrated with the impermanent nature of it. It was tough to excel when I wasn’t really sure where I wanted it to all end up.
In another career twist, I applied to a job at The Second City. It was a permanent position which is always horribly exciting for an arts professional to see on a job posting, and it sounded like something I would enjoy doing even though I had zero experience in comedy. I’ve been here two years now and recently got promoted into the role of database administrator – not exactly a through line for someone with a BA, which I kind of love.
If someone asks for career advice now I say volunteer and follow your skills – especially if you don’t have any career goals. I think we as alumni should be telling new grads that they don’t have to know everything right away; looking back I realize how much of a tiny baby I still was when I graduated, and how glad I am that I was able to figure things out along the way with the support of those around me.