Sunday, February 27, 2011

Your Career and You: Job Search Bungee-Jumping


I was struck the other day by the conservative (aka: safe) approach that some of my students (both Curry College, where I teach undergrad communication courses, and Regis College, where I teach graduate communication courses) take in their job and internship efforts.

This post is sort of a continuation of last week's "goldfish bowl" musing, but I've had two different conversations in the past few days that tell me to talk more.

Not only do you have to think outside your familiar and safe boundaries, both geographical and professional; you have to be willing to dive headlong into unfamiliar territory, exploring new industries, and considering different entry points into your career.

One of my grad students was talking with me about her search for a field experience opportunity. Apparently she had gotten some email addresses from another professor, but nothing more for contact information.

My sense was that she had done nothing more than simply fire off a "To Whom It May Concern" email and was now sitting and waiting for a response.

One of her classmates, as we were chatting, offered some very viable suggestions on other places to look. The first student basically blew off the recommendations as they weren't exactly what and where she wanted.

I then offered to do some address-book-diving to see if I knew someone at any of the institutions she was interested in. I told her that my contacts would be the public relations people, but they certainly would be able to provide her with names, etc., for the areas in which she was interested.

Ditto.

As I was driving home after that class, I thought about the sequence of events and realized that this particular student, anxious as she was to find something, was not going to take the risk of following a circuitous route to her goal.

So be it. We're not all cut out for the often nerve-wracking ordeal of diving into unclear career waters...and I'm certainly not suggesting that you must. But...you have to be open to taking some risks.

It's terrifying, and it's exhilarating. And you learn something about yourself...your capacity for risk-taking...your openness to new ideas...your willingness to adapt.

The goal is for you to get a toehold on your future, and if the standard avenues aren't working, you might have to try something different...some job search bungee-jumping.

"It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true." William James, "The Will to Believe [1897]. Is Life Worth Living?"

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