Recently I was speaking with a young woman whom I met as she was finishing her undergraduate college degree. She’s getting ready to move and is deciding what she wants to do.
She asked me about my career and how I chose where to work. As I considered my current position, as well as those I held previously, some themes emerged. I think this advice works whether you’re seeking your first position or your next one.
1. Know what you don’t want to do. That’s a good way to eliminate jobs. If you prefer writing, then a job as an event planner is probably not for you even if it sounds like fun because you will miss writing.
2. Find jobs that allow you to contribute to the organization and also to stretch. Obviously, you have to bring something to the position or you won’t get hired. You also don’t want to become bored with the job so seek opportunities to grow your skills. When you’re first starting out, it may simply be learning how the business world works.
I was fortunate in my newspaper career to also spend some time in the photo-graphics department so I learned about pre-press and printing, which helped influence what I would and could do as I was designing pages.
3. Take advantage of opportunities outside of the office. I joined a professional group called National Federation of Press Women and the state affiliate Virginia Press Women. Because of those organizations I developed my skills as a public speaker, event planner and newsletter editor. I also learned about diplomacy and working with volunteers. More importantly, I developed an extensive list of contacts so if I am stumped, I can always find a member to give me pointers or suggest a consultant.
4. Find mentors. You may not be ready for your next dream job. Speaking with someone, though, who has a similar job is a great way to learn what you will need to get the job. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Most people want to help.
5. Volunteer. I serve on some boards and work with my local library where I created a writers’ series. I aspire to publish a novel and this volunteer work is a great way for me to connect with published authors and learn about the craft.
What advice would you give to some just beginning their career or who is looking to transition?