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Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - You, You, You -

“She said, ‘That’s what engi­neers do.’”

Lay­man set out to study elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing but strug­gled. She was work­ing restau­rant jobs to cover tu­ition, away from home for the first time, and earn­ing the worst grades of her life. “I ended up drop­ping out of school,” she says. “I was de­mor­al­ized and com­pletely de­pressed. The town I grew up in had just opened a coal-fired power plant, and my dad helped me get a job there. I thought, This is it, I’ll work here for the rest of my life.” But slowly, as she leaned into the work, her con­fi­dence re­turned. The men at the plant trained and en­cour­aged her, and soon, she was back in night school. “What felt like a fail­ure turned out to be one of the best things I could have ever done be­cause I got hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says. “Look to­ward the fu­ture, but do the best job you can do in the po­si­tion you have right now.”

In any job, you can im­prove on what Guille­beau calls soft skills— writ­ing, pub­lic speak­ing, Cos­mopoli­tan ne­go­ti­at­ing, get­ting com­fort­able with tech­nol­ogy— which are im­por­tant but not al­ways em­pha­sized in school. Im­prove your fol­lowthrough skills by writ­ing things down in a meet­ing, not walk­ing away un­til you know the next steps, and set­ting dead-lines. “Be that per­son who makes things hap­pen,” Guille­beau says. “Be­ing a reli­able per­son will help you stand out in a very com­pet­i­tive environment.”

At the end of each day, re­view what you did. “Ask your­self, What gave me en­ergy?” sug­gests Guille­beau. “Think about those things that bring you joy and en­ergy, and try to do more of those things, with what­ever au­ton­omy you have.” novem­ber 2016

If your cho­sen field turns out to be an en­ergy-suck, you can al­ways change lanes. Guille­beau aban­doned an ac­count­ing ma­jor when his marks fell short. Min­shew adored per­form­ing when it was a hobby but found that the more shows felt like a job, the less fun she had. “Young women feel so much pres­sure to be per­fect. I think they feel it more than men do,” Lay­man says. “Have a plan for where you want to go, but the plan is not ev­ery­thing. If you get into some­thing and it’s not what you thought it would be, that’s okay.”

For me, the year af­ter col­lege was a mis­ery. My mom, a li­brar­ian, helped me get a job fil­ing maga- zines in the stacks. It felt soul-dead­en­ing at the time but taught me a lot about mag­a­zines. next, I took an as­sis­tant role at a non­profit with an eye to arts man­age­ment but found that where I shined was re­search and writ­ing. I dou­bled back to study jour­nal­ism, worked at a se­ries of edit­ing jobs, and a few years ago, landed a po­si­tion at Cosmo that is more fun than should be le­gal (we even won a na­tional Mag­a­zine Award). I fol­lowed my bliss in a dozen di­rec­tions, and I have no clue what comes next. I’m in no hurry to find out.

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