When I grow up, I want to be a …

I remember wanting to be numerous things. A ballerina, then a doctor, a vet and at age 7 an artist. Long term studies have determined that what you predict at age 7 is what you will inevitably become. At age 7, I remember saying that I would be an artist. I did eventually go on to study fine arts with high hopes of becoming a world-famous painter on par with Picasso. I dreamed of travelling through Europe exhibiting in world famous exhibitions and yet, here I find myself sitting at a desk, recruiting. I don’t think anyone dreams of recruiting at age 7. One day when I’m big I want to be a recruiter… said no seven-year-old ever.

Except for my 7-year-old daughter who happens to love visiting my office and one day wants to do what I do. Truth be told, I don’t think she gets what it is that I actually do. She just knows that mommy has a telephone on her desk that has a twirly wire attached, a computer and a giant whiteboard with colourful names and numbers on it. She likes the buzz and the constant chatter that comes with being in an office and that when every time the phone rings, someone asks for me. Mommy seems important and doodling on the giant whiteboard is super fun.

Turning tables and teaching gigs

Becoming a recruiter didn’t magically happen, it was a long journey before reaching this destination. Looking back at the past twenty years, it now makes sense that I would find myself here but for the longest time, it didn’t. I started off as a waitress in an Italian restaurant while studying towards my fine arts degree. It was a job that I adored. A busy environment where I would describe the food in minute detail, we didn’t have printed menus, I would write the menu on the blackboard each day and illustrate it (putting my fine arts degree to good use), speak to my regulars about which wines went with what meal and encourage them to try the dish of the day. Dealing with hangry people while trying to diffuse the situation before the chef went mental on me in order to secure my much-needed tip is a skill set that has held me in good stead. That job taught me how to manage tricky situations, talk to all sorts and simultaneously carry lots of plates.

After graduating and being offered a permanent job managing a new restaurant, I decided it was time to try something new. The restaurant industry can be relentless and having grown up in it, not something I wanted to do forever. It so happened that graduating with a fine arts degree at the beginning of a recession is not conducive to any great job offers. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was on an airplane, degree in hand and a job as an English teacher waiting for me in Taiwan. This taught me how to speak, relay a message and improvise. Here I was throwing sticky balls at flash cards until each kid in my remit could successfully name a verb, adjective and noun. I learned that getting down at eye level goes a long way and that even though Johnny was having fun in class, it was his parents’ expectations and the school principal who were key players in my continued employment.

The boiler room and the devil job

Four years later I came to Cyprus. A fine arts degree with an informal teaching background in a country where everyone spoke fluent Greek and English and held master’s degrees made me qualified for not much. It was a long road. A two-year stint selling personal development seminars in a hardcore boiler room style environment, a job in a law firm as a marketing manager doing everything but marketing and realising that marketing was not my strong suit. It was a job I despised that completely killed my spirit. The devil job that turned the Sunday blues into a dark depressing navy. It was a soulless job that left me drowning in paperwork. A toxic environment surrounded by people I had nothing in common with that inevitably forced me to reassess my work life. This was a turning point for me. This is when I decided that the next move would be it.

A perfect match
And so it was that the universe conspired to help me by magically sending the fateful advert my way. A multinational company looking to hire a person who could multi-task, sell, communicate, negotiate and find people their dream jobs. Kind of like a professional matchmaker, this sounded interesting. Two interviews later and bam, a recruiter was born.

Everything was valid

A few years later, having made connections and mastering the process, I took every skill I had ever honed and opened my own company. Not one thing went to waste, everything was valid. Waitressing taught me to juggle many plates, literally and figuratively. The fine arts degree helped when designing brochures and creating the website. Teaching helped when I had to present to potential clients. Navigating between parents, kids and principals all those years ago taught me how to dance between candidates and clients and manage all their expectations. Hard core sales helped in every aspect. In fact, I would recommend sales to every graduate and think it should be a prerequisite on every curriculum. And the marketing, well I just outsource that now.

The point is, I don’t think you can ever know what you will be when you are seven years old. The road is long and ever changing but with each experience learned a new skill is gained and when you learn from it and apply it to the next thing, this is how great careers are made. Too often we put things in boxes. Sure, sometimes a seven-year-old knows that they want to be a pilot, and this is what they eventually become…You go you sure footed, all knowing, future predicting little person! I guess some people choose conventional paths, but this is not always the case. Not every path is linear, some of us need to curve and detour before we find our direction, and this is fine too. As the very wise and brilliant Dr Seuss once said,

“You’re off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting
So…get on your way!

And will you succeed?
Yes, you will indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!”