Putting my Passions to Work

December 07, 2021

By Sydney Dahl

When I was in grade 5, I told my mom that I wanted to be an author. I loved writing. Whether it was short stories, poems or essays, I loved making my thoughts come to life through words. I was able to construct a different reality - an ideal reality. Plus, it was fun! Some people enjoy getting lost in a good book, and others get lost in the music. Some (i.e me) enjoy all of the above and have thought bubbles growing from their heads, filled with ideas that are ready to come to life on a page. When I was in grade 5, I knew I wanted to capture these thought bubbles for the rest of my life, and share them with… everyone.

But, I was raised as a realist. That’s not to say making a living as an author is unrealistic (it’s 2021, anything is possible!), but it is recognizing how difficult making a living as such can be; especially in 2008, when my aspirations first arrived. So, I kept writing, but it remained a personal thrill.

Now, let’s fast forward 13 years to today. I am a 4th-year Communications major and Business minor, with aspirations of going into Human Resources or Public Relations. I still love writing and try to fill my free time with it. I share my work on social media here and there but have yet to put in the effort to scale my platform. Instead, my effort is focused on academics. And, like most SFU students, I joined the Co-op program to give myself a sense of security post-graduation and to ensure my career goals are actually what I aspire to.

As you may or may not know, the co-op process can be very difficult and frustrating during your first semester; but, it is also the most gratifying as this is when you learn the most. Although II had every intention to apply early and apply in bulk, instead, I let my ego get the best of me. I thought because I had been through the application process so many times from working in retail, I’d ace every application package, and get an interview from each one. So, no need to apply to too many places. Boy, was I wrong. I had been denied so many times, I thought I would never get an interview. But, after some time and a few application packages later, I landed a position with a community-based blog site as a Feature Writer and Editor! However, this position was not what I expected it to be at all. It was much, much more.

The blog I worked for is a site dedicated to sharing student-created and student-centric content. Although we mostly host blogs of varying topics, we also have samples of resumes, cover letters, and interview questions. My main duties included editing student submissions, migration (moving content from one site, to another site), copywriting, and writing blog posts. It was a privilege to read others’ stories and find inspiration in them. But, it was rewarding to be able to share my own story, “4 Reasons Why You Won’t Regret Working in Customer Service”, too.

But, the best part of my work placement, aside from having two incredible, supportive supervisors, was the realization that I could combine my work with my passion for writing. And, I don’t mean that I realized it was possible. As a Communications and Business student, I am well aware of how you can use social media and the internet to put your passions to work. What I mean, is that I was able to see the potential in myself to combine my work with my passion. I was able to clearly see what goes on behind the scenes, and realize that, although it would be difficult, it is doable. It was so interesting to learn the nuances of building a blog, but more importantly, a community. Those thought bubbles started exploding from my head once again early in the semester, and I knew that it was only the start of where I would take my writing and editing abilities. I hope to create my own blog; my own community to share my and others’ work with, of course, everyone! And now, with the skills and abilities I’ve attained from the blog, I am fully confident in my ability to continue propelling myself towards this newfound, or re-worked, aspiration.

In the 13 years between wanting to be an author and now, not much has changed. Yes, I genuinely want to go into HR or PR, but I can no longer discount writing as a career option (even just on the side). I had convinced myself that it would always be something I’d do just for fun. What I learned was, my passions can be put to work. But more importantly, I learned that it’s not about what is “realistic”; it’s about having the confidence in yourself to know that, truly, anything you aspire to is not that far out of reach.