What Would it Take to Follow Your Career Dreams?

Rebecca Mieliwocki, this year’s Teacher of the Year, who was recently honored by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House, didn’t start out pursuing a career in education. Despite being the daughter of two public school teachers, Mieliwocki studied law and began a career in publishing after completing an undergraduate degree. The work left her uninspired; so she says, "I made a list of the things I needed in my dream job: be your own boss, work with children, try to leave the world better than when you were delivered into it." Her husband read the list and said, "It’s so obvious. You’re supposed to be a teacher." Now, after 14 years of teaching, Mieliwocki still says about her career: "It was everything I wanted it to be."

What might have happened if Rebecca Mieliwocki had not allowed herself to reflect on the attributes she wanted in her "dream job"? She might have remained in the fields of law or publishing, perhaps fulfilling these needs within those professions, but she probably would not be in the Rose Garden on a lovely day in April, 2012.

What would it take to follow your career dreams? First, like Ms. Mieliwocki, you will want to reflect upon the attributes you really want in your job. For our Teacher of the Year, the choice was obvious in teaching—but you may have to do some career research, talk to people in various fields and have conversations with trusted friends to determine what your possibilities might be. Don’t forget, you may be able to extend your current job by adding some of these attributes without making a full career change. Ms. Mieliwocki might have used her legal education working with family courts or child advocates or she might have worked with a publisher who focused upon children’s literature. Once she decided that classroom instruction was her calling, she parlayed her work experience into teaching credentials and she was on her way to her chosen career.

Will you take the time to consider your "dream job"? You can start your career exploration now just as Rebecca Mieliwocki did some 14 years ago. Consider these questions:

  • What are the things you must have to be successful in your job?
  • What tasks in your current or past jobs do you/did you most enjoy performing?
  • What motivates you?
  • What would you do if money were not a consideration?

Then use your family and friends’ networks to see where this reflection leads you and don’t forget to consider how you might combine these dreams with your current job and current organization. After all, we might see you in the Rose Garden in 2026.