I have always been heavily motivated by an end goal. For as long as I can remember I have been searching for what I want “to be”. I set my sights on getting into Booth and once I accomplished that, I was ready to find something new to work towards.
While in search of my new goal I realized that it was intrinsically tied to who I wanted to be and the life I wanted to be creating for myself. So as I began at Booth, I was excited to embark on that challenge. For as long as I can remember I have been searching for what I want “to be”. I wanted to find the blueprint on my career path, and I took that into my product management summer internship.
I wanted to know, did I want “to be” a product manager?
At my internship I prioritized setting as much time aside to meet with my colleagues as possible. During these coffee chats, I would primarily look for advice on my path forward. Expecting to get black or white answers to my questions of what I should do next in my career I asked things like: Is it best to sharpen my skills in a big technology company or should I wear multiple hats at a startup? What is the career path after 5 years? Should I explore other functions? When their answers were less clear cut than I initially hoped for, I felt frustrated that I wasn’t able to identify what the best path forward was.
I slowly started to shift my mindset and listen to everything people were sharing with me, rather than only listening for answers to my specific questions. This was when I found out our CEO had taken a year off to travel the world with his partner. I spoke to product managers who had come into the role from a completely unrelated prior position, but just wanted to explore a new career. Some leaders in the company had even taken a step back in their career simply because they wanted a different experience.
All of these conversations helped me realize that I wasn’t getting a straight answer to what the best path forward was because there wasn’t one answer. There are millions of different paths that can take you to the exact same endpoint, and what I now understand is the process is the most important part.
I loved my internship, I got to work on a project that I truly felt proud of the end result and I met some of the most incredible people. What I realized is those same people, with careers I hope to one day emulate, were also still trying to figure it out.
So, do I want to be a product manager? The answer is…maybe! I know that’s what I want to pursue right now, but I also know I can’t predict where that will take me in my career. What I’m focused on is putting my all in on whatever I’m doing, letting that take me to my next step, and enjoying and learning from the process.