Ask Victoria: Reader Response and Open Thread


A few weeks ago in the Ask Victoria column, I published the story of Damon, a frustrated unemployed volunteer seeking guidance and support for his career transition, along with my insights and advice. Several of you commented on the article or wrote in with similar stories, suggestions, and personal reflections.

One reader in particular sent a response that really moved me and for this week’s Ask Victoria (with the reader’s permission) , I share with you the heartfelt note she sent:

Dear Victoria,

I came across the Idealist Careers website yesterday and believe it was love at first sight.

And although I have only discovered the tip of the iceberg, yet two articles in your advice column rang really true for me; “How to find direction in your career when feeling directionless” and “How to craft a career around your passions”. Both articles acted a bit like a self-help group. I am not at a very tender age (as both writers are) any longer but still find myself feeling stuck in a job I thought I would love and after I started not liking how the organisation is run at all or struggling with too many interests and not knowing how to ‘translate’ them into my career. And of course there are financial boundaries, too.

However, I figured that is just part of the journey  and I can say for myself that mine so far was, despite all the ups and downs, quite exciting and deeply enriched my life. I started by studying social work in Germany and worked for a number of years before I felt I desperately needed a break and embarked on an adventure down under at the age of 29 in 2007. This adventure turned out to be truly life changing and saw me coming back to Australia permanently, after having traveled back and forth ever since 2007, in 2012. As fate had it I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and was offered a job with Australian Red Cross in their Migration Support Program providing casework support to people seeking Australia’s protection from persecution in their countries of origin. I did this for nearly 3 years until the Australian Government capped the funding and I moved on but not without having been deeply touched by the people I met during my time at Australian Red Cross and an invigorated urgent sense of that I am still very passionate about human rights, social justice and empowerment. It hasn’t translated into my ‘dream job’ yet but along the way, living in between, I have picked up so many skills that I am proud of and that are highly transferable.

I guess I am not so much asking for advice (although if an organisation springs to mind that you think I would like to know of let me know) as wanting to humbly offer my story to encourage others to keep on chasing their dreams and trying to be comfortable with uncertainty at times. And yes, it can be a tough gig living away from family and lifelong friends without having their support or the support of a partner. Feeling the weight of having to make a living but most times it’s absolutely worth it. And there’s on one saying you can’t go back to re-group and re-think taking concepts from one culture to the other. That’s going to be my next step and I am very excited about it. If nothing even more exciting happens in the meantime that is.

Warmest, Victoria

PS It felt like writing a letter to myself 🙂

When I read Victoria’s note (having the same name is merely an uncanny coincidence!), I sensed that the Idealist Careers community would benefit from the spirit of camaraderie and a “vote of confidence”. In addition, I wanted to invite our readers to chime in with suggestions of organizations that might be of interest to (Australian) Victoria. If you have any ideas, please do share in the comments below.

When I reached out to Victoria to let her know we’d be publishing her letter, she replied with a couple of other ideas she wanted to share. I invite you all to try out these two suggestions and see how things shift in your job search:

One thing that sprang to mind is something I learned during my very recent Mediation training. There is a technique we call introducing other currencies and you can ask the questions “Set money aside … what else is possible?” And I found this a very powerful question to even ask yourself and you might want to substitute money for fear, doubt whatever it is that is holding you back.

And another thing that I am going through right now is the power of making bold decisions. As I kind of touched on in my earlier letter is that I am German but migrated to Australia and journeyed all the way to Citizenship (dual, though). But over the last months I wasn’t happy here any longer, particularly with my job and the organisation I am working for. I am here all by myself not having the immediate support of my family or a partner and it became incredibly hard to bear. So I very recently decided to go back home for a while to see if I can do it and to see what’s in stock for me in Europe and since I allowed those thoughts to emerge and decisions to happen my horizon has expanded so much and I am now researching the best of both worlds putting ideas together and it feels fantastic and I am super excited about the possibilities (and being with family and lifelong friends). So don’t feel you have to stick with a decision you made a while ago if it doesn’t work for you any longer only because you sacrificed a lot to get where you are now.

Does Victoria’s recommendation- to free yourself from sticking with a decision you made long ago when it no longer works for you- ring true for you? What is a choice you’ve made that might not be working for you any longer? How might you redefine that decision in a way that will work better in your current life?

In keeping with the spirit of community, please share your thoughts in the comments! I look forward to hearing from you all! 

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About Author

I became acquainted with Idealist in late 2000 while working in the career development office at a private liberal arts college in NYC. I used it almost daily to help students and alumni find meaningful careers. After a 12-year stint in higher education, I worked as a career coach for professionals in various industries (and still used Idealist). During one of those many searches, a listing really caught my eye- the one for the newly-created position, Careers Program Coordinator. So... I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, I took on the role of Manager of Career Content for Idealist Careers, creating career content for job seekers, leaders, and other nonprofit professionals. Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I've shared with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Now, as Manager of College and Professional Development, my focus is on lifting the advice from Idealist Careers "off the page". Drawing from my experience in career development, I propel job seekers and career changers towards taking control of their searches with confidence and removing fear, uncertainty, and other blocks to success via in-person workshops and seminars, webinars, and conference programming. My great loves are cooking (preferably without a recipe, otherwise I doctor it up), dancing, live cultural performances, identifying the tasting notes in a good cup of coffee, exploring neighborhoods for hidden gems, and anything else that sparks the senses and allows me to experience all the beauty, dynamism, and intrigue that vivaciously living in a remarkable world offers.

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