Guest Post by Lonny Butcher
Lonny sent this as an email to his TA’s to help them understand how to answer the question he gets most often. It’s a good read..
This is probably the question I’ve answered most over the last 7 years. Why? You’d think it’d be “how,” but it’s not.
The today, I saw this article: LinkedIn Asked People to Give Advice to Their 20-Year-Old Self. The Same Lesson Came Up Again and Again | Inc.com.
To summarize the article, the most frequent answer given to LinkedIn’s question was some version of don’t be in a rush to find the perfect job. You’d think this answer flies in the face of what we are asking students to do in the career classes (set a goal, execute an action plan, graduate with a job), but what we are asking our students to do FITS PERFECTLY with this advice.
The article essentially says that deliberating and researching endlessly is what’s pointless. You need to take action. Get out there. Work. Succeed. Fail. Learn. Well, that’s EXACTLY what we’re asking students to do through the Career Cycle and Career To-DO List assignment. Alex even says in the Career Cycle that students can “over-rely” on self-assessments and secondary research.
But, in the same way that endless deliberation to identify the perfect job is wrong, so is just mindlessly jumping in. We just ask students to do the exploration BEFORE rather than AFTER graduating. Why? Simple, people find students way more interesting to help than other unemployed-underemployed young people. If they mess up now (do an internship they don’t like, find out they don’t like the people who work at a company or in an industry, realize the major they thought they needed isn’t necessary or interesting…) they are in a relatively safe place to recover.
So, the next time you’re posed with a “why” question instead of a “how” question, keep this article in mind. We do these classes this way because we don’t want their future self to come back and say, “You had a chance to do something about it, you just chose not to!”
I would only add that your first professional job will not be your dream job. If it is, you didn’t have much of a career. That first job does however put you on a path that will close some doors and open others. You need to think about that, but the only way to get to your dream job is to start down the path. Procrastinating or being unwilling to do the hard things to get there, and there will be hard things, only keeps you from finding out what that dream job really is and where on your path it is hiding.