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Career anxiety

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I have worked for 10 years - half of that was spent working in retail whilst I studied at school, college and university. I got a graduate role which I was at for 2 years. The company then relocated and I didn't want to move with it, plus there was no progression and I wasn't enjoying working there any more. I left and pursued temporary work closer to home for a year, and have worked permanently at a charity for another year. I am over qualified for the role and it is very low income, however it has been so beneficial for me to work in this field and it is related to the work I did in the graduate role.


I am however a bit confused about my next step. I'm fearful I wasted 2 years in temporary and low paid jobs (although I purely needed money at the time and the jobs were all excellent experience). I'm 26 and worried I've "messed up" and don't know how to go about the right steps to put things right.


I feel angry at myself when I see how successful some of my peers are - and like I've been stagnating. I could be a lot worse off, but I just feel like a failure and I want to ensure my next steps take me to a worthwhile career and future.


Has anyone had a similar experience?

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I definitely have had a similar experience. I got stuck in a series of low-paying jobs before and during my graduate program, and was at one point working two separate jobs, an unpaid internship, and attending classes full-time. It was awful, and I definitely struggled to figure out what to do after my degree ended.


Did you get your degree finished up? If so, figure out everything that you could possibly do with it and then start hammering out what you'd like to do. Look for jobs in that second category first, but don't be afraid to expand your horizons. Also, keep an eye out on jobs that may not be in your field but use a lot of the skills you've acquired along the way.


For example, I am a librarian whose training was in Youth Services/Public Librarianship. I applied to every public/YS job that came open at first, but eventually I started spreading out widely. By the end of my search, I was in serious contention for an HR job in a hospital, as a bank manager, and as an academic librarian with open applications to two public libraries, a hotel as a night manager, and an additional hospital as a secretary. I ended up with the academic librarian job, but I could have gone one of several ways with it. Most of the jobs I was looking into had nothing to do with my degree on the surface, but employers liked my experience from those low-paying jobs and loved my library science degree.


Good luck with the job search!

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