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Four steps to land your dream job

FILE PHOTO: Signage for a job fair is seen on 5th Avenue after the release of the jobs report in Manhattan, New York City

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If scoring your dream job seems impossible, meet Priyanka Naik.

Not long ago the tech executive was successfully helping to lead partnerships for social media site Twitter, now called X. Her dream, though, was to be a vegan chef.

Now Naik is a Food Network champion and author of the cookbook, "The Modern Tiffin." She appeared in a "Today" show Thanksgiving segment alongside celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay.

"I always had a mission to make cooking an actual career that could pay my bills," Naik said.

Therein lies the challenge: turning a passion into a money-maker.

Only one in 10 Americans are working in their dream job, a survey by the site JobSage showed. Seven in 10 said they are not on track to get there, and 53% said their dream job is unrealistic in this economy.

Yet dreams can come true. You need a clear-eyed strategy to bring them out of the clouds, take concrete steps to get where you want, and make the numbers work to prosper.

Just ask Adam Anderson. When he graduated in finance and accounting from George Mason University, he was told in one job interview he would have to make hundreds of cold calls a day.

"That really scared me," said Anderson, 34, of Springfield, Virginia.

He turned away from a career in finance to his first love – comics. Anderson dabbled in them since he was a 10-year-old kid bidding on a comic with the first-ever appearance of Woody Woodpecker.

Now he is one of the biggest comic-book sellers on eBay with his business Blissard Comics, selling more than 200,000 items in the last 10 years.

Here are four steps to create a career you love.

WORK ON TWO PATHS SIMULTANEOUSLY

Even if your ultimate goal is for your dream to be a full-time gig, you do not have to jump there right away. In fact, ditching your 9-to-5 employment is a risky proposition.

That is why Naik worked on her cooking blog as a side passion for years, even while employed in tech.

"I did them side-by-side for a long time," she said. "When I started getting more media attention and traction, that's when I realized that was I was doing as a chef was unique, and I could do more with it than just have a blog."

TREAT IT AS A BUSINESS

There are tax advantages when your passion becomes a self-sustaining business.

"In 2016 I established an LLC, got it registered, created business accounts, started tracking expenses and got credit cards optimal for small business," Naik said.

Her advice? Put the infrastructure in place early because much of your business development costs can be expensed.

For free business mentoring around the country, check out the organization SCORE. Other helpful resources include the federal Small Business Administration, which can help provide financing with its own loans.

CHANGE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL

Starting any passion project involves a lot of trial-and-error.

While Anderson started selling his own comics on eBay, he recently pivoted to a consignment model, also selling comics for others on their behalf.

"This year sales are up 200% over last year, and a lot of that is thanks to my new business model – so be open to changing that over time," he said.

JUST START

Conditions will never be perfect to take the plunge, so do not wait for that to happen.

Instead, just begin – even as simply as introducing yourself in an Instagram post, said Naik. It may work out as a standalone business, or not – in fact, the odds are it probably will not - but at least you will have tried.

"You don't want to look back on your life and think about all the things you could have done," said Naik. "You want to say that you tried.

"So even if you think you're not ready, please just start – and it's never too late to start."

(Reporting by Lauren Young and Richard Chang)