Looking for a job outside of your comfort zone

Last week I was talking to a coaching client from RIT who was wondering if he should expand his coop search beyond his home state.  He feared that he would leave behind his support net from current family and friends if he went out of state.

Unfortunately, jobs aren’t always where you want them to be.  I was recently reading about plant closures and it is always interesting to read what those involved think is the best solution.  

From the article (emphasis mine):

Many Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have voiced their opposition to the plant closures and some lawmakers have insisted that GM find a new product to place in the factories it plans to shut down.

Sometimes jobs aren’t available where you live and that’s just life.  Instead of waiting for a job to open up where you live, you may just have to go find a job somewhere else.  The entire North American continent was populated because the predecessors to the Native Americans had to go where the food was. I bet they would have loved to stay in one single place forever, however that wasn’t an option so they moved to where the opportunities were.  

Although I didn’t have any connections, terrible grades, and didn’t have the right major, I was still able to get an internship with one of the top accounting firms in the world during a recession beating 300+ candidates who were better qualified than me (on paper) for that internship.  One of the reasons why I got it was because I was flexible in location. Instead of expecting or demanding that they give me an internship in Dallas or Houston (which would have been convenient since it was closer to school), I told them I would be willing to move to where the opportunities were.  They sent me to El Paso, Texas, literally 10 hours across the state from where school was and even further from my hometown.

Also, moving out of your comfort zone (or comfort area code) is a perfect opportunity to test your assumptions of what you like and don’t like.  

Your college years are probably one of the best times to venture out into the world and try new places, people, and opportunities.  You have to remember that a coop isn’t just about you getting work experience, it is also an opportunity for you to figure out if that’s what you want to do for possibly the rest of your working life.  I have known people who after finishing their internship, changed majors to completely different industries (think mechanical engineering to fashion) since they realized that although they liked the idea of what they did, they found out there was something else that they LOVED.  

During my tax internship, I found out that I liked doing tax forms but what I really LOVED was dealing with the people behind the numbers.  That allowed me to focus on that strength and made me realize where I could improve.  I think that realization has helped me guide my career and see where I could be useful to the places where I’ve worked.  

This isn’t to say that moving across the state or country will be the easiest thing ever.  In my particular situation( 18 years ago), after driving 10 hours nonstop, I had to find an apartment on my own (after the HR rep canceled on me) in a city I’ve never been to and in less than 1 day since I had to fly out the next morning to Chicago for New Hire Training.  

What did I do?

I drove to the nearest gas station, bought a paper map (remember those?) and a phone book (do those things still exist?) and started calling apartments close to my internship.  I drove to a couple of places, put a deposit down, unloaded my little truck and got my bags ready for my flight out the next day.

I learned so much about myself that day particularly that I could survive on my own.  If I could do that all on my own 18 years ago, I’m sure you can definitely do it today when your cell phone has maps and the internet.  

Don’t be afraid to look for a job outside of your safety net.  It may lead to great opportunities and to earned confidence.