Maybe you’ve dreamed of becoming an artist since you were a kid. Maybe you solidified your dream in adulthood. Maybe the dream came to you during your time in the military. Whether it’s art, game design, writing or being the next president, your dream career is possible with dedication and some smart planning.
Be Willing to Dream, Be Willing to Work
There will be plenty of naysayers. And you know what? Your dream may seem elusive or far-fetched. People around you might say that it’s impossible, the odds are against you, employment is unlikely or the salary is too low. But you have an advantage that many people do not. It is an advantage you earned through your service (Read: Military Education Benefits). You have the GI Bill and/or Vocational Rehabilitation. With dedication, hard work and taking advantage of opportunities, you can give yourself a real chance of obtaining it.
Don’t be afraid to try. Right now you are probably not doing your dream job. Being realistic about your goals, doing research and moving yourself toward it makes all the difference. Unconventional careers are often a gamble, and understanding that is important. But you don’t have to hit it big and make a huge income; personal fulfillment goes a long way.
Get Your Education
While many unconventional careers do not require formal training, having education in the field greatly improves chances for success. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, artists use formal education to increase their employability, opportunities and to further hone their craft. Further, a program at a college or vocational school can give you access to information and networking (Check out Military Friendly Schools here).
Wish you could design characters for video games? Look at game design or digital art degrees. Most gaming companies require employees to have both creativity AND a bachelors degree. Do you dream of owning your own bed and breakfast? Investigate business degrees. The education benefits available to veterans can pay for degrees that are applicable in these fields, as long as the school you plan to attend is accredited.
If using Vocational Rehabilitation, be ready to show how the degree will help you land that job. According to a 2014 Vocational Rehabilitation Congressional Report, rehabilitated veterans are twice as likely to be employed than their counterparts. While less conventional career paths are more challenging, taking advantage of your benefits significantly increases your chances of finding employment in your dream field. Vocational Rehabilitation will want to see how the training or education can lead to a job that considers your disability. Do your research and present the information to your VA counselor.
I want to encourage you to dream big. Use the opportunities awarded to you for your service, as they are the steppingstones that will help you on your journey to the stars.
Next: For help making your dream career a reality, check out our School Matchmaker tool.