As the academic year comes to an end and graduation season arrives, you are probably thinking about what is next, what the next chapter will hold for you. Even if you aren’t graduating this year, it is easy to fast-forward and start worrying about life after college. It’s wild to look back at what college-Cass thought she wanted to be & where I imagined I would be in my life now. It definitely was not running a virtual educational platform for sorority women. Here are three things I have learned about taking the next steps in your career path.
Celebrating one year of Her Sorority Journey last month has made me reflective on the incredible growth we have experienced as a company. Thinking through the timeline of course launches, keynotes, podcast recordings, and partnerships inevitably reminded me of the landmarks in my personal life. The growth we experienced as a company occurred alongside major life changes, crises, accomplishments, and heartbreak in my personal life. I found myself suddenly reflecting on the intense & exponential personal development I have experienced since launching this platform.
Looking back on the wide range of challenges, successes, conflicts, and breakthroughs of this past year, I feel amazed at how much life happened in such a short period of time, but also proud of my newfound ability to navigate it. I'm proud of the lessons learned through the difficulty and who I’ve become on the other side of it. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my career taking me down a path of entrepreneurship.
When I started college, I believed I needed a clear career - a highly structured path to follow and something that could be easily understood by others. As I gained experience in sorority, I craved a profession where I could thrive & impress to show off the transferrable skills I gained in sorority. Based on a few of my passions at the time (equal access to justice & being bilingual in my profession), I chose to study Business Law & Spanish. A career as a lawyer or in the immigration or international law field would be highly structured, trigger few questions, and impressive. I shared my aspirations to take the LSAT, apply for law school, and find an aligned law firm to work at widely. I felt that I had found my clear path and owned it.
As I started to tell people my plan, many in my life share with me that they were surprised and others said directly that they didn’t see me being a lawyer. They said I didn't strike them as someone who wanted to be so serious or streamlined professionally. Their lack of confidence in my chosen career path fueled my desire to be a lawyer more to prove them wrong.
While I continued to share outwardly my legal aspirations, I was focusing much more of my energy on my sorority chapter's development and my leadership in my community. Every year of involvement with Sigma Kappa and Panhellenic increased my passion for the sorority experience while every step toward my career path left me a little less inspired. The classes, internships, temp jobs, and studying for the LSAT slowly caused a disconnect with the path I had chosen. Nevertheless, I felt the pressure of following through with what I said I’d do ~ pursuing an impressive clear path. After a disappointing score on the LSAT, I was overwhelmed with defeat and decided to put these aspirations on the back-burner for a gap year... or two.
Taking on a few professional opportunities in the sorority world right after college felt so aligned with my passions and skillset. While carrying out such intentional work, I still continued to tell people & myself that I would go to law school eventually. As much as I loved working with sorority women, I didn’t see how it could become a full time, long term career.
When I left my last job in the sorority programming space, I did not have a plan of what would be next. I started searching for jobs to keep me busy before taking the LSAT & looking into law school again. I felt unmotivated and discouraged to go back to this path I said I would do after working in a space that just seemed to fit better. Quickly into this process, my friends & family closest to me encouraged me to explore how I could stay in the sorority space after seeing the joy and purpose I'd experienced there.
Starting Her Sorority Journey allowed me to pursue my passions in a way that I needed to and finally surrender the pressure & weight I carried to pursue a career that was misaligned with what I wanted. I have learned many things over the past year from the logistics of running a small business during a pandemic to managing relationships as an entrepreneur. But I think the most valuable lessons are those that I wish I knew back in college when I was considering my professional opportunities. Here are the most important three that I want to share with you:
Don't believe the lie that navigating your career path needs to happen alone. In college, I remember seeing "girl-bosses" praised for their independence, lack of insecurity, and confidence in pursuing their passions singlehandedly. While we are always striving to be our most confident, unapologetic selves, there will be times especially in professional spaces that you need people around you to remind you of your strength & value. I cannot tell you how often I have fallen into the belief that I have to power through, create my own strength, and run this company alone. It is draining whether you are in a traditional workplace or running a business rooted in sisterhood to feel isolated in your work. Sisterhood or close relationships are critical in whatever career path you choose.
There is a space for you to do what you are passionate about. In fact, the world needs your unique perspective and insight in that space! In a society so inundated with opinions and solutions, it can feel like there’s no room for you to voice your beliefs or share what have to offer. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. While imposter syndrome & scarcity mindsets can often play prominent roles in our belief of this lie, your calling and passions were placed on your heart for a purpose. Pursuing your passions is an expression of authenticity. You cannot be true to yourself without honoring what you were made to do.
As we often take jobs or pursue careers in field that matter to us, it can be so easy to take the work personally. After spending 40+ hours a week on solving a problem you care about, you can suddenly find your self-worth fluctuating with the performance of your job. It has been so important for me to actively separate who I am from what I do. Even though what you end up doing will most likely be a reflection of your heart or an extension of what you care about, the success or failure of your work cannot alter your identity.
Over the past year, I’ve learned that the development of an organization cannot exist without the intentional development of the individuals behind it. Seasons of impact and growth in Her Sorority Journey often paralleled times that I felt fully surrounded by supportive people, the ability to be authentic & true to myself, and stable in my identity regardless of the work I was producing. I hope you feel encouraged and challenged to view your potential differently. If my story leaves you just a little inspired to combat the pressures & expectations of our professional world to pursue what you were called to do, all the heartache and weight I carried will have been worth it.
Ready to go deeper to prepare for life after college?
We are hosting a Values-Based Budgeting Virtual Workshop this Tuesday, April 27th at 3 PM PST/ 6 PM EST to help you overcome any fear of finances and align your budget with your priorities! Register here: https://forms.gle/M9UzER1qpRwYYhTbA