Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Having a Job vs. Building a Career

College students: have you ever had someone tell you that he decided that he will never work a day in his life? You may ask yourself “how is that possible? EVERYONE has to work!” The operative words in the sentence are “work” and “decided.” Work is generally associated with an obligation, something that you have to do to survive. However, the decision you can make is to see work for what it can be: a stepping-stone in your career, a path to personal and professional fulfillment. If you feel that you’re going to work every day, follow these steps to start building your career:

  • Understand your reasons: If you are employed during college you most likely will not be at that job for the rest of your life. Engage in some self-assessment: why are you working there? Perhaps it’s the only work study job that you could find close to your residence hall, or maybe the pay was greater than the alternatives. The idea here is to get clear with your reasons why you took that job, to think about this decision critically. Once you are clear about your reasons you can make some new decisions. What are your most important needs right now? Is it to pay loans? Maintain a lifestyle? Work close to your residence hall room? Or maybe you now want to find something that fits more with your academic interests?

  • Make the decision: When you have achieved clarity regarding why you are working where you are and your needs, you can make the decision to stay or go. No job is meant to last forever and your needs not being met could be a sign that you are not feeling fulfilled. But if you decide that this position truly is meeting your needs, there’s only one thing left to do…

  • Excel: Blow away your boss, your boss’s boss, and your coworkers with your ability to perform, your upbeat demeanor, and your willingness to take feedback and criticism. Show initiative and put thought into your job, looking for ways to improve it and improve yourself. The skills that you are accumulating and the attitude you are displaying are now part of your career and will carry you for years to come.

To paraphrase author James Allen, circumstances do not make you: they reveal you. By putting thought into and assessing your employment needs, you can create a foundation that will bolster your chances of success no matter what career field you choose. Choose career success today.

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