Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When Dream Jobs Don't Pan Out


If you would have asked me what my ultimate "dream job" would be anytime between my fourteenth and twenty-first birthdays, I wouldn't have hesitated to proudly declare that some day I hoped to work for the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer. I envisioned grand adventures of living in foreign lands, constantly learning new languages, and working with locals as a representative of the alruistic American people, for the betterment of their country and the betterment of the world at large. What I never imagined is that, at the age of twenty-one I would be flying to Russia to start an internship which fully embodied the responsibilities, prestige and adventures I had sought as a young adult and believed awaited me at the State Department.


The twelve weeks I spent working at the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia encompassed a few of the most spectacular and memorable events I have ever experienced. Dining with celebrities and politicians; attending conferences with some of the nation's brightest scholars; walking beautiful streets lined with antique palaces gilded in gold; occupying the best seats in the city's best theaters, watching the most talented and accomplished performers in the company of the city's elite cultural circle and emerging philanthropist minority; researching the inner workings of a government and society so different from our own. And yet, amidst all the excitement of an exhilarating job, comfortable government accommodations, the prestigious diplomatic lifestyle, and the thrill of a beautiful new land, something was missing: my freedom.

Chatting with the Coach of the
Russian Olympic Figure Skating Team

With U.S. Consulate General Sheila Gwaltney, an American ballerina
competing in the International Open Dance Festival, and the Consulate's Cultural Assistant.

 

Amidst all the excitement,
the prestige, the thrill ...
something was missing: my freedom. 


There are certainly security concerns in a place such as Russia, and though one would be hard-pressed to call this paranoia – because the threats really do exist – the measures that were taken to ensure safety and security sometimes felt restricting for the young, social, curious individual that I am. During and after my time in Russia, I learned that I value my freedom more than my security; and I value the opportunity to interact with and learn from every individual more than the necessary  air of prestige that comes with the diplomatic job description. In short, I learned that I truly am more of an entrepreneur than a statesman. I could have never fully accepted this without experiencing for myself the dynamics of my "dream job."  The opportunity to have done so at such an early stage in my career has been incredibly consequential.

No longer do I aspire to a position in our government which I once viewed as a place where I could have the most wide-ranging influence and do the most good. I’ve seen the power of connections and experienced for myself the great good that can be done in collaboration with private individuals and organizations who share my values across the globe. Instead of signing up to follow someone else’s rules and work a "nine-to-five" office job for the rest of my life, I’m taking the reigns and working to arrange projects and a way to make a living on my own schedule.

 

I'm really more of an
entrepreneur than a statesman.


One of the best product development teams. Ever.
 

The day I "learned" to code. Turns out it's not my thing.

Entrepreneurial co-conspirators in their natural habitat.

 

3 comments:

  1. You are such an amazing girl. I so enjoy reading your adventures. Life certainly makes a lot of twists and turns and you are learning all about that. You will do what feels best to you. That makes life fun and gives you the strength and will to accomplish good, if not great, things. HUGS to you dear Shirah. ox

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  2. Ah, you write so well, it's a pleasure to read! And it's certainly a pleasure to follow your exciting life!

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