Inspiring Stories of Self-Made Careers: 7 Steps on How They Created Their Own Jobs


In today's dynamic job market, traditional career paths are becoming less defined, prompting many individuals to create their own jobs. These stories of self-made careers offer valuable lessons in resourcefulness, strategic networking, and the power of initiative.

Inspiring Stories of Self-Made Careers: 7 Steps on How They Created Their Own Jobs

(Photo : PEXELS / fauxels)

Henri's Academic Journey

Henri, whose name has been changed for privacy, provides a compelling example of creating a job in academia. During his doctoral studies, Henri realized his passion for teaching at the university level. He built a robust teaching portfolio and engaged in informational interviews with professors involved in curriculum development. As his Ph.D. program neared its end, Henri actively searched for academic positions.

Henri's partner had secured a job in a specific city, so he focused his job search on colleges and universities in that location. One institution offered a program in a discipline closely related to his studies, although it had no job openings listed. Henri delved into the curriculum and identified areas where his expertise could enhance their offerings. He crafted a proposal for two new courses and sent it to the department chair, whom he had met through networking.

The chair, intrigued by Henri's initiative, invited him for a discussion. During the meeting, the chair mentioned his upcoming sabbatical and offered Henri a part-time teaching position to cover his classes. This opportunity soon evolved into a full-time appointment, exemplifying how proactive engagement and tailored proposals can create job opportunities where none previously existed.

READ MORE: 5 Essential Tips For Achieving Tenure: A Guide For Tenure-Track Faculty 

Aera's Corporate Climb

Aera, another pseudonymous subject, illustrates job creation in the corporate sector. As she completed her graduate thesis, Aera researched companies aligned with her expertise. She scrutinized publications, company websites, and industry conference participants to identify potential employers.

Aera reached out to a senior researcher at a prominent company with a proposal on how she could contribute to their projects. Unbeknownst to Aera, the researcher was preparing for maternity leave and needed an intern. Impressed by Aera's initiative and well-crafted proposal, the researcher invited her for an interview and subsequently hired her as a junior research associate.

Aera's proactive approach paid off as she quickly proved her value, leading to a promotion within a year. She continued to climb the corporate ladder, eventually becoming a director. Her story highlights the importance of thorough research and strategic proposals in creating job opportunities in the corporate world.

Crafting a Unique Career Path

Drawing from personal experience, Nana Lee demonstrates how curiosity, networking, and aligning with mentors can lead to unique job creation. With a Ph.D. in hand, Nana was passionate about professional development for graduate students. While working in the biotech industry, Nana organized student-run events and frequently returned to their alma mater to give career talks.

During one seminar, a former professor approached Nana about contributing to a professional development program for graduate students. This conversation sparked a pilot course, which received positive feedback and was later expanded to other departments. Nana eventually transitioned into a full-time academic appointment, blending teaching and leadership roles.

These stories share common themes: reflection on personal interests and skills, strategic networking, and the willingness to propose tailored contributions to potential employers. Here are practical steps you can take to establish your own job:

1. Reflect on Interests and Skills

Utilize tools like the Science Career IDP or Imagine PhD to identify your passions, values, and skills. Consider what projects or roles excite you the most.

2. Conduct Thorough Research

Investigate potential employers through publications, conference presentations, and press releases. Identify key individuals and current projects within your area of interest.

3. Engage in Informational Interviews

Reach out to professionals in your desired field. After each meeting, ask for recommendations on who else to contact and what opportunities might be available.

4. Leverage Location-Based Networking

If you're tied to a specific location, build a local network. Join nearby industry events and engage with local professionals.

5. Apply for Relevant Jobs

Tailor your applications to match your identified interests and the specific needs of potential employers. Emphasize how your skills and background align perfectly with the position.

6. Propose New Roles

If a job doesn't exist, identify areas where you can add value. Craft a detailed proposal and present it to decision-makers within the organization.

7. Craft Compelling Cover Letters

Use CAR (challenge, action, results) statements to illustrate how your skills and ideas can benefit the organization. Highlight your potential contributions clearly and concisely.

Creating a job often requires stepping outside traditional application processes and demonstrating how you can meet an organization's needs. By combining strategic research, proactive networking, and a clear presentation of your unique value, you can carve out a fulfilling career path, even in the most competitive job markets.

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