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Finding the perfect career in our endless land of opportunities

I’m in my late 20s. I’m in a happy relationship. We share a lovely apartment in a fantastic city. Any yet, I have trouble sleeping. Why? Because I still haven’t found the right career. All my friends are moving forward in their jobs. And on LinkedIn, I should congratulate this former colleague to her new job or that guy to his promotion. All around, everyone seems to be doing fine. And I’m just getting by.

But let’s be realistic for a moment. I’m not the only one. And neither are you.

On The Lookout…

I too, have done everything right on paper. I successfully graduated from University and got my first job soon after. And hated it. Ever since I’ve been trying out different things: I travelled the world, volunteered for an NGO, and worked in different jobs. So, I wasn’t exactly bored. But I still hadn’t found what I was looking for.

Manon Steiner howing a little boy in Vietnam how a camera works.

Me showing a little boy in Vietnam how a camera works.

And I think about it. ALL THE TIME. What do I want? How do I get it? And why is this so difficult?

The One Thing I’m Sure About

But there was one thing I had always been passionate about and that was everything to do with media. So I combined my love for writing and video with my passion for travelling and started a blog. But naturally I had no idea how to market the whole thing. Then I remembered Red Bull. In university, I was writing the Red Bulletin. This wasn’t unbiased journalism. This was writing specific content for a target audience to gain more revenue for a product. I was already doing Content Marketing, I just didn’t know it yet.

press passes, journalism

My journalistic gatherings throughout the years.

So, I browsed the internet and dove into the field. I wanted to understand why certain content worked and how to get people interested in the first place. Soon, I wanted to learn more. But I didn’t want to return to university and the courses I found online didn’t fit my needs.

Final Destination: Content Marketing

Until one day, I came across an article just like this one. It was written by a friend who had a similar problem: She hadn’t found the thing yet that made her stay up all night. At least not until she enrolled in an Online Marketing program called the Digital Marketing Nanodegree. So naturally, I checked it out and got to Udacity’s landing page. And here I am writing this piece as a task for the program I subsequently enrolled in.

I still haven’t found one hundred percent what I am looking for but I am getting a step closer every day. Now I certainly know that I want to be a Content Marketer. The right job will come at its own pace. And that I am sure of.

photo taken from Udacity

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How Grace found her dream in Otjikondo school

Everyone deserves a dream. But some don’t know it yet. A  few years ago Grace was one of these people. Growing up under poor conditions in Namibia, she never thought she could become anyone. “If I wouldn’t be at Otjikondo, it would be bad”, tells me the 14-year old. Because back home her single mother has trouble putting food on the table and taking care of the four children.

But in 2011, Grace found a home in the Otjikondo school project. That’s where I visited her in August 2017. There, in the heartland of Namibia, between acacia and palm trees, she told me her story.

When Grace first entered Otjikondo she could barely speak English and failed grade two. Today she is top of her class.  “Grace’s Dream” is the story of a shy but clever girl who learned that she deserves a dream and how to hold on to it.

Watch it here, listen to her dream.

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On the search…

On the search…

Manon Steiner in a fishing boat on the Mekong river in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

On the lookout over the powerful Mekong – thinking about the meaning of life. ©Manon Steiner

I’m on the search. For what? A sense of belonging, myself, a career I feel worth pursuing, the world and the meaning of it all. The usual stuff. For a long time, I was horrified at the idea of designing my own life and that made me stop short of breath instead of going forward.

I still don’t know what I’m doing or where I’ll end up. I have no master plan and certainly no answer. But there are two things I do know.
First, you do in fact only live once. While this realisation seems to have reached our generation with the much overused term “yolo”, it is only penetrating the surface. People are still chasing money and a certain status in life. That brings me to my second realisation: For me, this is not enough. I want to find inner peace by exploring every bit of life and the world possible.

Because, for those of us who don’t believe in heaven, an afterlife or rebirth, that’s it. And in today’s world of opportunities, choices and expectations, we need to take a break from rushing around to get what we want and think about what it actually is that we need?

One Size doesn’t fit all

If your dream is a good job, a nice apartment and a family, that’s great. Because our society is designed for that. But as we’ve learned from buying jeans and shoes, one size doesn’t fit all, no matter what the shopkeeper is telling you. 

Nowadays, young people don’t necessarily strive for the old dream of a white-fenced house in the suburbs. But talking to my closest friends, I realized that, indeed, I was the only one who wasn’t already on the path towards a promising career and a more or less settled life.

Doomed to live unhappily?

And that stressed me. For over a year, I had been in a job I hated and couldn’t imagine ever liking being tied town by another one. So, was I doomed to live unhappily?

For a long time, I thought so. And then I remembered a dream, I’ve had since I can remember. That dream is to see the world – all of it. And learn as much as possible about this universe. And you can’t do that with a steady job, an apartment and often even with a relationship. I always thought, I was one of the few, feeling this way.

Until, in mid-2016, I finally left my hometown Vienna and stepped out into the world for good. I had always been fortunate enough to travel and to live abroad for a periods of time. But the thought of planning my four to five week holiday each year, evoked in me the kind of “horror” that Mr. Kurz must have felt in the “Heart of Darkness”.

The Berlin-months

Music, fashion, press passes, parties: For 4 beautiful months, this was my life.

So, after some soul searching and quitting my first steady job, I decided to follow dream number two: Being a music journalist for Rolling Stone magazine and living like my idol Hunter S. Thompson.

I secured a short-term freelance position with the German Rolling Stone magazine and embarked onto the Berlin Club scene. The following four months were a exhilarating mix of learning, mind opening, fun, bizarre events and stress. But most importantly, they paved the way for my further decisions.

For one, I realized that even my dream job wasn’t as rosy as I had painted it and that I was in no way ready to settle down or close to living the way I wanted – not even in the amazing city of Berlin – a place that only exists once in the world and that I can recommend to all the lost souls out there.

Finally on the Road

So after four months in Berlin, my boyfriend Tom and I went on a trip to Southeast Asia with no return ticket and no apartment or job to come back to.

Finally on the road in Vietnam. ©Manon Steiner

Finally on the road in Vietnam with Tom. ©Manon Steiner

It was there, that my journey really began. We only had a rough idea of the countries we wanted to see and no specific plan. We bought our ticket three weeks before we left and booked the cheapest flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. (Check out pieces and pics of the trip on this site).

Changes happened gradually. They can’t be made manifest on certain events or situations. It was the journey, the people we met, the things we learned, that gave both of us a different perspective on life. And that’s what it’s all about: Seeing the world, the whole world, as it really is with all its beauties and horrors and becoming at peace with it.

I’m not there yet but I am on the way and this is the beginning of my story.

Always ready to capture life with my Canon EOS 750D and my iphone. ©Michael Dande

Always ready to capture life with my Canon EOS 750D and my iphone.
©Michael Dande