Dream Jobs. What Are They? And Why I left Mine.
My Dream Job
After two years of scraping by as a fledgling freelancer, I had a job offer from Luxion, the makers of KeyShot, a 3D rendering application. I was elated. My fiancé and I were just about to move to NYC for her med school and I’d be a Global Training Specialist for Luxion. The timing couldn’t have been better considering the cost of living in NYC, plus, I was ready for a change. I couldn’t believe my luck! Three years and two months later, I resigned from my dream job. Here’s why.
Before I get into my motives for leaving my employer, here’s what I did as a Global Training Specialist. If you don't care about this, skip to the dream job section.
My primary charge was on-site KeyShot training. KeyShot is a rendering software created by Luxion. I’ve used KeyShot since before it was actually called KeyShot, and with that experience, I’ve been able to teach design and engineering teams how to create photo-realistic renderings and animations using KeyShot. This is performed at the customer’s location.
Each month, Luxion hosts free one-hour webinars. A webinar consists of a live demonstration of how to use KeyShot followed by a questions and answers section. It’s a great way to interact with KeyShot users and offer free education. These webinars later become archived on Luxion’s YouTube channel for consumption. I performed webinars whenever my schedule allowed for it.
KeyShot’s blog is a repository of news and instructional content. I assisted in creating long-form tutorials. These would often consist of written how-to steps augmented with images and practice scenes which could be downloaded for free by users. The goal of each tutorial was to show how to achieve a specific result using KeyShot.
Working directly under the sales team, I would often receive customer questions in which they were unable to achieve a specific look in their renderings. These were presented as challenges in which I would take the customer scene, evaluate it, make some small adjustments, then reply with explanations of what I changed and why I did so. This was one way Luxion shows appreciation and support to its customers.
Trade Show Support
As a smaller team, the same handful of Luxion employees often attend conferences related to the design, engineering, entertainment and technology conferences. I would typically attend these shows too as a technical resources. When a customer had a question that went beyond the scope of other employees at the events, I would try to help find an answer to the question. Sometimes I’d perform live workshops or presentations at these events as well.
New Version Release Content
Every time a new version of KeyShot is released, it tends to ship with updated library assets, (materials, textures, environments, backplates), some of which I’d be responsible for helping to source and curate. Additionally, demo models and scenes would have to be created to show off new features. This often consisted of unique materials which I’d create in 3D modeling applications and other design software.
Testing and Development
Whenever I wasn’t busy with one of the above tasks, I’d fill my time with testing new versions of KeyShot and reporting bugs, improvement ideas and requests from Luxion’s larger accounts. I’d spend more time doing this closer to new software releases.
I was fortunate enough to have a wide range of duties. This kept the job fresh and allowed me to enjoy what I did on a daily basis. The fact that I worked remotely (two years in Brooklyn, NY and one year in Loma Linda, CA) gave me plenty of autonomy and really allowed me to be productive.
Do you Have a Dream Job?
A dream job can mean a lot of things and will vary depending on who you ask. Before you apply for or accept a job offer, consider the following. Here’s what I look for in a dream job.
1. Learning and Growth
A dream job should allow you to extend your skill set, grow in your capabilities and build expertise. In my case, I was able to do all of this with a software I learned as an industrial designer back in college. I became a go-to person whenever someone struggled with KeyShot.
The ability to choose how you spend your time and the freedom to make decisions is critical to personal growth. You can’t become a leader if you can’t lead yourself. Autonomy allows you to gain the trust and respect from your colleagues and peers. I was grateful to be trusted with pretty much complete autonomy at Luxion.
Without a sense of purpose, it’s hard to become invested in what you do. Your purpose should offer great value to others. Your purpose should also be clear. At Luxion, my purpose was education. I could help save companies time, money and frustration by educating users how to create what they wanted. Further, it brought joy because designers often enjoy seeing their designs presented as photo-real renderings.
I am deeply interested in design, visualization 3D rendering and sciences. All of those converge in rendering. I was paid to get better at, learn more and teach others about something I was interested in. I enjoy talking about, writing about and spending my time rendering and that’s key to making work feel like play.
Those are the 4 things I think define a dream job. Try to look for an opportunity that checks all those criteria next time you’re considering a job change. In addition to that, I was lucky enough to travel a lot since on-site training is held at the customer’s building. This means I became an experienced business traveler all while being paid. Such a job is great for a single, adventurous person who wants to see the world before they settle down.
Why I Left my Dream Job
I want to be clear that I wasn’t running away from things I didn’t like, so much as I left to chase goals of my own. I saw a window of opportunity I had to take. Below are the main things I left to change or pursue.
There was a significant uptick in travel frequency for me as the months ticked by. Eventually, I was spending at least 50% of the year traveling. Airports, hotels and rental cars began to feel like home. Time zones became blurry. Deja Vu was a regular occurrence, 3am wake-up calls to catch an Uber to the airport was all part of the norm. While it was the norm, it was still stressful—mentally and physically. I found it very hard to control my exercise and diet when spending lots of time on the road
Having a fiancé pursuing a demanding career gave me a guilt-free pass since she spent just as much time working as I did. As a result, I could travel without her feeling like she was always home alone. Still, eventually, the travel took its toll and was a major reason I wanted to make a change. Further, when I was home, I’d need to spend my weekend doing house chores, errands or simply getting caught up after being away, rather than spending time with loved ones.
I’m grateful to have learned as much as I did while working at Luxion. I grew as a teacher, speaker, listener and artist. But, after nearly 1,000 hours of training various groups, the work had become too repetitive for me. I wanted a new challenge that would force me to grow in different ways. I don’t think this could have happened unless I left.
Before I joined the Luxion team, I was into public speaking, writing and creating instructional videos. Those things brought me lots of joy and allowed me to connect with other creatives in a meaningful way. I missed these things.
I had the great fortune to meet lots of cool designers while traveling and training. Plenty of times, I was asked if I was available for consulting or freelance work. I chose to decline 99% of these offers due to my travel schedule. I’d love the chance to help great products get noticed by using my technical visualization skills.
With my fiance in residency an us having no kids, I’ve got more time to start a business now than I ever will. I plan to take full advantage of this period for the next few years. Living within driving distance of LA and Orange County allows me to network and meet with local clients, which is a bonus.
Is it Time for You to Quit?
Jobs are like food, in that they all have an expiration date. If your current job doesn’t offer growth, autonomy, purpose and interest, then start considering a move. Leaving a steady paycheck, benefits and comfort is really, really, hard. And then there’s guilt. Nobody wants to leave colleagues with extra work or duties, but in the end, you have one life to live. Don’t settle for a job that’s easy or convenient. Eventually, you’ll be left with a void that can only be filled by a dream job. Even if you need to create your dream job, make a plan, start saving and make a move. If I can do it, so can you.
What’s your dream job? Please, share it in the comments below!