Monday, July 11, 2011

Your Career and You: "Three Little Birds"


Ok, I'm in my Bob Marley mood today. Just finished ironing a pile of clothes, which always leaves me with the satisfaction of having actually accomplished something! Beautiful day; gorgeous weather. What more could you want?

Well, based on a couple of online conversations I've had recently with newly-hatched college grads...a job seems to be high on the "want" list.

Can't say that I blame them. Four years of tears, tests, teachers, and textbooks. And a substantial chunk of change invested.

And what for? A non-response to a letter of application for a job. A "thanks; no thanks" letter following an interview. As an old (really old) song said, "Just sittin' and waitin' gets so aggravatin', so ring, telephone ring."

One thing I try to communicate when I run into a situation like this is the need for patience. The fact that you have graduated and want a job yesterday is a bare blip on my radar screen as a hiring manager. The heat is on for me to find a more senior communicator to fill a higher-level and potentially more productive position; entry-level gets done whenever.

My undergraduate advisees at Curry College as well as my graduate students at Regis College hear variations of this message constantly when we're talking about "life after graduation." I try to help them understand that expectations (theirs) have to be tempered to meet realities (the hiring companies').

The main thing to remember, in my opinion, is that you will find a job. It may not be exactly what you dreamed about every night at school after cramming for tomorrow's exam, but it will be a job that launches you into the professional working world.

I've said at least a zillion times that my first full-time job after graduating from college was as a short-order cook in my Father's soda shop in my hometown of Dublin, Georgia. I wasn't called on to make use of the knowledge I had gained studying 18th century British lit at the University of Georgia. But I made one heck of a hamburger and a world-class chocolate milk shake!

And I discovered my nascent public relations abilities...built an awesome following of high school students who flocked to the soda shop after school and on Saturdays to munch on my burgers and slurp my shakes... business flourished, my Dad was happy...and I got a raise.

Later on, I took a job as a record salesman (you do remember records, don't you?!?) and learned the value of primary and secondary research (talked to customers and friends about what their favorite current songs were and diligently combed Billboard for clues to future hits) in helping me make sure I had what customers wanted today...not tomorrow.

I ultimately, after a few career twists and turns, wound up working in public relations, but it was a circuitous path that took me through eight years of the Air Force working as an English Language Instructor, then an Audiovisual Technician, and finally a Command Briefing Specialist.

The convoluted point I'm driving toward here is that everything I did along the way was beneficial experience that prepared me for immersion, thanks to the US Army's public affairs internship program, into PR and my lifetime career.

You're doing the same with your current job, whether it be full-time or part-time, and regardless of what you're actually doing. You just have to take a step back and look at what you're learning.

I did a very short...two days...stint as a package sorter for UPS down in Virginia right after I got out of the Air Force. Learned very quickly...my supervisor was not impressed...that mind-numbing, backbreaking work is not my forte'. Note to self: No more physical labor.

So...why "Three Little Birds"?

Because the song encourages you to look on the bright side of things...to not give up...to find joy in the small pleasures of life.

Not a bad way to go, is it?

4 comments:

  1. Kirk, I could not agree more. I often tell the students at Boston University the same thing about their first job. It is just a stepping stone, but it is something to get them started. Not their dream job - that comes later.

    I have learned to enjoy the little things in life - both through work, and through family. My wife became a bit of a visionary toward the end of her life. She had ovarian cancer and fought for 5 years. Even though she loved the good things in life (those things that often cost money), she really came to understand that it is the little things in life that we really must enjoy. She wrote about it here: www.carcinista.com

    I firmly believe that what ever job you do, you must be learning or it really is not worth staying. So, keep looking for those new experiences. Keep looking for those new ways to approach what we do.

    Cheers!

    -Ed Feather

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  2. Thanks, Ed. Your wife sounds like she really had it figured out...sad to hear she lost the battle, but she obviously enjoyed the life she was able to share with you.

    I was fortunate to have had an awesome professor back in my MUCH younger days who pointed me in the direction of Kahlil Gibran and "The Prophet." The one quote that I have adopted from the bazillion times I've read this amazing work is "In the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. (p. 59)"

    I try to communicate that thought to all my students (and anyone else who wanders across my path!)...don't get so wrapped up in the mega-issues that you lose sight of the joy and beauty that life can bring you.

    Thanks for your inspring feedback.

    All the best ~ Kirk

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