I had the amazing privilege of speaking to the next generation of brilliant minds at San Pedro High School’s Career Day 2012, “Making the Difference in Our Youth.” The biggest take away that I garnered as I spoke to the students about the components of choosing a career path, beyond the general inquiries and cordial head nods, was seeing the cogs in their heads turn with excitement about the possibilities of their future. I’m always blessed to be on the giving end of encouragement and to be able to help foster ideas that eventually become a reality. It’s amazing to witness young people realize their dreams and there’s a tremendous intangible reward when one takes part in their discovery.
Each presenter was only given 15 minutes to articulate his or her work experience and to share some nuances about our journey toward seeing our career goals actualized. Calling our presentations a “crash course” in career selections is an understatement. And, to be honest, I had no idea what I was going to share. I pulled into the faculty parking lot 10 minutes before our orientation and, amazingly enough, three things dawned on me as I was thinking about useful insights in fulfilling career goals.
With that said, here are my “3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Career”.
1. Enjoy It!
We all know money isn’t everything. Money is nice, but money doesn’t always equate happiness. Money is definitely needed to pay the bills, but it doesn’t equate to joy. So, instead of chasing a paycheck, choose a career that you’ll actually enjoy doing. If you like the 9 to 5 dynamic and punching numbers while dwelling in a cubicle, then go for it. There’s nothing wrong with that type of environment, as long as you enjoy it. If you love kids, then find an avenue that’ll lead you toward making the biggest impact in the next generation. If you are passionate about health care, then pursue it. Bottom line is: Pursue what you’re passionate about, so you won’t end up looking back, 50 years from now, hating everything about your life. I guarantee, if you pursue a direction that you’ll enjoy, not only will you be a lot more happier, but so will the people around you.
2. Educate Yourself.
I never liked school. In fact, I loathed it. I hated school so much that, by my junior and senior year of high school, I took all elective courses just so I could breeze by my last years. In hindsight, however, I wish I embraced the education system a lot more. Education is huge, not only in pursuing and landing a job in your desired field, but for advancing and growing in your particular craft. The world is constantly evolving. What was commonplace 5 years ago, isn’t necessarily the standard today. In fact, the world is changing so fast, even the standards of last year might not apply to our current paradigm. When you graduate from college, many of the particulars you learned in the 4-6 years (or more) that you were there will more than likely be outdated the moment you walk that stage. Because technology gets better as the years go by and ideologies progress, we have to continually be learners of our field. Sure…the basics will never change. But if we’re going to do well in our field and get better over time, we have to be willing to learn and learn more. Now, whether you choose to pursue higher formal education or informal learning by way of seminars and conferences, the choice is yours. Either way, it’s important to find ways to absorb news ideas and new perspectives in your career of choice.
“Networking” can be an intimidating word and idea, but the reality is networking plays a vital role in your career. As cliched as it may sound, it’s definitely not always about what you know. It’s who you know that’ll pave the way for opportunities and doors to be opened. I’m involved with a lot of community work and I’m in the places that I’m in because I knew someone or knew someone who knew someone else. The interesting thing is I test very high as in introvert, but I’m still able to build my network and find those opened doors to walk through. What it comes down to is this: Networking is simply providing an opportunity for others to share their story. Storytelling is a lost art, but I’m finding that most people want to share their story with other people. It’s one of the main reasons why social media has blown up in the past few years. People are looking for ways to become a voice. Social media provides people the platform to become that. Networking is simply meeting people and allowing them to tell their story with you. It’s about not saying much, but asking the “why’s” and the “what’s” about people’s lives to get them talking. And in doing so, you’ve built a bridge into their lives (and vice versa) that could play a huge role in your career down the road. Allowing others to share their story builds trust and fodders the soil for authentic relationships to be cultivated—again, playing a huge role in connecting later on.
So, there you have it.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. You might have others and I’d love to hear from you.