Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Can You Tell if You Want That Job?

Hey guys! Today is a very special day for me.

The countdown has begun – I can’t believe it – but in exactly one month, my book will be released by Norlights Press and available for purchase on Amazon.com.

It is literally a dream come true. 

So I wanted to share something special with you in celebration of this countdown. 

I want to help you answer a question that I pose in the book: a question whose answer can help bring direction and excitement to your life -->

The Question: How do I know if this person's job is the one I want when I am older? 

I've talked a lot in this blog about choosing your major. But in the end, most people want to find the major that best prepares them for a job they would like to do. And the best way to know if you like a job is to try it or to ask someone who is in it. 

So when you meet someone or sit down with them to ask their advice, how do you know if their job is really one you'd like to have? How do you know if they would be a great professional role model for you in your life? Consider the following:

1.  Is there a wow-factor beyond the car?  I think any professional role model should have a wow-factor. And I'm not talking about the whoa-they-make-a-lot-of-money-and-drive-a-sweet-car factor.

Ask anyone who makes a lot of money but is unhappy in their work and they'll tell you to find something better for yourself. People today are looking for meaning in their work. And that meaning comes from finding a wow-factor in the daily tasks that make up a professional role model's work. 

What about the actual tasks they perform pique your interest? Remember, a job is continuous, and when you find one with tasks you generally enjoy, it will have a wow-factor.

2.  What paths have they taken to gain this success? When you think about finding professional role models, consider the variety of paths to success and learn from their timeline.

The truth is, that some professionals have a very long and winding path towards their present positions. Others have what I call the wunderkind effect – that is – some circumstance they encountered, or skill-set they possessed for a particular moment that catalyzed their success.

For example, one of my good friends whom I admire greatly is a successful filmmaker. He is incredibly talented and driven; during college spent time aboard a medicine ship in Africa, working for a charity, where he met someone who hired him to do some film-work that helped ignite his career at a very young age.

Some careers have built-in timelines that you can't avoid (e.g. you cannot finish medical school and become the top doctor immediately). However, some are varied and professional mentors  can help guide you towards what will help you expedite your success, as well as how to keep going even when things aren't happening as fast as you'd like. 

Sometimes, very talented, focused people encounter the right circumstances early on; sometimes they don’t. You might want be a very talented filmmaker, but not have that connection right away – it doesn’t make you a failure; instead, it means that you will have to be patient and persistent. For the most part, success takes time, and professional mentors will have a lot of guidance in that area. Consider their path to success, and think about if you are interested in following a similar one, keeping in mind the old adage that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. 

3. What personal passion is reflected in this career goal?  This might be the most important question.  It is also the easiest to answer – what personal passion do you have that is reflected in the day-to-day work of this person’s profession?

If it takes you longer than a minute to think of one, this professional might not be the career for you. 

You don't always have to be deeply passionate about your work, but if you can choose, wouldn't you want to choose something that really interests you? 

4. How is the balance of work/life reflected in this professional culture?  This is the question that is often ignored when thinking about a professional to look up to. 

And this is also one of the most important ones.

You will want to think about your personal goals, along with your professional goals, and see how they intersect in the work culture of that potential professional role model.

If you want to travel from city to city and live in rental apartments for months out of the year, you will find that certain professions really fit into that niche and can actually provide a lot of opportunities for you. Conversely, if you plan on having time to settle down, buy a house, and one of your future goals is to have children and spend time with them at home, those professions might not suit you as well.

Anything is possible, but you'll want to consider all of your values and goals and how a particular profession fits in. You won't want to ask a professional personal questions, but you are welcome to ask how they feel about work/life balance in their profession. You'd be surprised at how honest they will be with you. 

Don’t neglect factors such as hours worked in a week, travel commitment, vacation time, etc. – they will play a factor in your future, even if they don’t seem important now. 

Remember, you get months off during the school year from classes – professionally the norm is 1-2 weeks per calendar year.  

I hope these were helpful. They are just a foundation to hopefully get you thinking more deeply the next time you meet someone whom you might want to consider as a professional role model and mentor.

I wholeheartedly believe that  one of the TOP requirements for success is having professional role models/mentors in your life. 

If you ever have any other questions or would like help in approaching professional role models,  email me at advice@communitycollegesuccess.com

If this interests you and you'd like to learn more (such as how to actually find professional role models and get them to mentor you), check out my upcoming book Community College Success: How to Finish with Friends, Scholarships, Internships, and the Career of Your Dreams on March 15, 2012, when it releases from Norlights Press.  I can't wait to share it with you :)

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