Sitting in an interview you get the same, few, standard questions tossed at you.
You get the dreaded “what are your weaknesses?” followed closely by the lovely “what are your strengths?”
You’re sitting there and cruising through your interview. One question and one answer at a time.
Then it happens.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
I mean, I get it. You are sussing out if I am motivated, have realistic goals (if I have goals at all), career trajectory, and if this role will fill the path I am setting for myself.
I always want to think and dream big, but is this going to be seen as ambition? Or alternatively, will it be seen as being incredibly unrealistic?
Where is that line? Who decides the line? In an interview, the person deciding if you get the job or not ultimately gets to define the line. They get to sit there and judge me for the half-hour of me blabbing on about something. That is their role as an interviewer. They were given a resume from HR or a recruiter, they then sit down and have a chat and judge you based off your answers to these questions.
But if you were to sit me down as a college student (which I was under 4 years ago) and ask me where I see myself in 5 years, I would not have even imagined that I would be where I am today less than 4 years out, let alone 5.
On the flip side of that, if I sat down in an interview as a college student and given you the answer of where I am now, the interviewer would probably scoff at me- the, at the time, overly ambitious college kid.
Though I can honestly say that if it weren’t for my overly-hopeful, unrealistic ambition, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Yesterday I was offered my dream job with my dream company: Props Technician with Cirque du Soleil.
In my moment of speechlessness, (and wanting to cry, puke, scream, faint, laugh etc.) I tried to channel my inner college kid- the overly excited, new to the world, thirsty to learn, big-dreamer. The big dreamer who left University for Science to go to College for Theatre. The dreamer who look a huge leap over the verbal judgement of nay-sayers to go to school for what I loved.
The dreamer who applied for a job she was nowhere near qualified for.
When I was at Sheridan, we would discuss where we wanted to be and Cirque was obviously well-received in those shops and hallways. When looking at their job board about 4 years ago, I saw a props opening. Me, being the naïve college kid, applied. Obviously, I didn’t hear back (and thank the lord ‘cause I was not ready at the time). But fast forward a couple of years later after working on cruise ships for a bit:
I was in a Skype interview for a Cirque du Soleil at Sea position trying not to lose my mind at the possibility of working with Cirque in any capacity. In that interview they mentioned that I had experience with props- the only experience I had with props prior to this was college. I was confused. Props had not been on my resume for years. Little did I know, I already had a file that I had been pumping resumes into since that fateful college day.
But the experience I had then paired with the experiences I had after college made it so I was well-rounded enough to be considered. I was then offered a Swing Technician Position with Cirque du Soleil at Sea, which I accepted.
If it weren’t for 19/20-year-old Jen shooting a resume into the abyss in the long shot of long shots, I wouldn’t have gotten that job- I wouldn’t have been on the radar. If it weren’t for that doe-eyed young woman, I wouldn’t be sitting here today looking forward to having my dream job.
Where would I be today? What would I be doing if it weren’t for a Hail-Mary application from a previous version of myself?
Would I have ended up here at some point? Maybe? Probably not. Who knows? A lot of life (I have found) is being in the right place at the right time- a matter of luck that you cannot plan for.
We have to take our chances in life. Does this mean throwing yourself at things you are not ready for? No. I don’t actually recommend it. If you can handle it, if you can realistically take an opportunity- take it. Your biggest achievement is always going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done- until the next, new biggest achievement comes along. It doesn’t get easier or less scary, if anything it gets scarier: College-Jen had NO problem applying to that job, but more experienced me questioned it first.
Over-ambition from college-me paved the way for the ambitious present-me. So maybe next time I am asked where I see myself in five years I should say where I want to be, where I will myself to be- it has happened before, it can happen again!
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”- Warren Buffett