Sunday, March 21, 2010
Your Career and You: A Passion for Learning
I've just gotten back from my annual trek to New York City to participate as a judge for the Public Relations Society of America's "Silver Anvil" awards competition. I spent an invigorating and educational day with a team of dedicated fellow judges reading through and evaluating entries in the "Internal Communications" program category.
Why? I just spent a full day with 150-plus public relations professionals each of whom donated a day of his or her life to evaluate excellent programs created by other dedicated public relations professionals. Some of these folks (the judges) have been doing this for years...I'm a relative "newbie" with about five years under my belt as of this writing. And they do this voluntarily... because they want to, not because someone forced them to.
So what does this have to do with careers and job searches? At least a couple of my PRSA colleague-judges are "between jobs," having been caught in one of the many corporate restructuring exercises that took place in 2009.
But they are still actively involved in their professional organization. They are still excited about their chosen profession. And they are still eager to question and to learn.
How do I know this? When I spoke with them, or observed them chatting with someone else, I saw the fire in their eyes and heard it in their voices. It's "business as usual" as a public relations professional, just with a slightly different mission for the moment.
So...again...what does this have to do with careers and job searches? Some young people today have unrealistic expectations of life post-college...some of them have unrealistic expectations of life in college! They expect everything to be presented on a platinum platter, problems neatly solved, dilemmas tidily resolved.
I was grading some case study assignments this afternoon and came across this mind-boggling response to a question: "I don't understand the question."
Was there an email to the professor asking for clarification, or an attempt to ask for guidance? Nope..."I don't understand the question."
Life doesn't work that way, especially in public relations. You are expected to be the problem solver...the dilemma resolver. Which means asking for clarification when you're not sure and taking the extra step to find the solution. It means being eager to question and to learn.
More than anything, it means having the fire. It's all about passion and doing what you really, truly love doing. And seeking the answers when you're unsure.
To close with a line from The Prophet by one of my favorite authors, Kahlil Gibran, "No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge." Show me the fire...ask me the questions!Now that I'm back and mentally preparing for the "normalcy" of teaching public relations courses at Curry College, I find myself musing cynically about the future of our younger generation.