Saturday, January 7, 2012
Your Career and You: "The Art of Kissing Frogs"
For some misguided reason, I thought the winter break from Curry College, where I ride herd over the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, and Regis College, where I teach graduate Organizational and Professional Communications courses, would be one of solitude and meditation.
Nope…things were (characteristically for me) mildly insane. Tons of reading and writing, which, in addition to ironing clothes, tend to be my “therapy.”
Also, though, lots of talks with students, current and former, undergrad and grad, as well as other friends and professional colleagues, mid-level and senior-level.
Most of these chats revolved around job or job search dissatisfaction. Either the search wasn’t going as anticipated, or the job itself has turned out to be not so great.
This isn’t a new topic for me, but it is a new year, so let’s dive in.
My sage advice…not necessarily said exactly this way, but implicit in my conversations…was that “you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince (or princess for the male gender).”
Career transitions…college to the fulltime, professional workforce, or job to job…are a baffling mix of timing, luck, research, and perseverance. Doesn’t matter where you are in the food chain; it applies at all levels.
The learning point here is that, no matter how carefully you plan your search, once in a while the train’s going to jump off the tracks. And there’s usually nothing you could have done about it.
What you can do is reassure yourself that it’s not a genetic flaw. Bad things happen to good people. Sadly, this was your time in the barrel.
So what do you do about it?
First of all, in my (sort of) humble opinion, you examine the frog’s warts. What makes them “warts” and not 18th-century “beauty patches”? In other words, is what you perceive as not pleasant actually par for the course and just not something you’re comfortable with?
Case in point. One of my friends, with whom I’ve been having a long-running dialogue, works for a PR firm…a very good PR firm, I might add…and is going through, to put it mildly, “mental and personal hell.”
The job has its good moments, but these are overrun by some totally suck-y moments. (“For every ‘action,’ there’s an equal and opposite ‘RE-action’”?)
Whatever the case, she’s miserable and wants a change. But she’s concerned that the “warts” she thinks she has identified as associated with a potential new opportunity might be too gross.
Hence the quandary. “Kiss or no?”
Another friend is just embarking on her maiden voyage into professional life. She’s open to either internship learning opportunities or entry-level jump-in-and-do-it positions. She’s not completely sure what “warts” are, but she intuitively understands they’re there…and she really isn’t too keen about the frog-kissing part!
There are no magic answers to these dilemmas. What you can do is what I have advised time and again…do your research…network…talk to your friends, teachers, whoever you can use as a sounding board.
Then you make a decision…pucker up…and kiss the frog.
If it’s meant to be, it will turn into your prince(-ess). I totally speak from experience here both from my previous life as a public relations professional and from my current life as public relations prof.
In both universes, I took a chance with opportunities that, on first glance, were absolutely not what I had envisioned myself doing. And in both instances, I found myself doing something that absolutely resonated in my soul.
Now, just to be completely clear, I also have vivid memories of a couple of swamp-reeking toads in my past, so it’s not a perfect world.
But I learned from those experiences, and I used that knowledge in other, future transitions.
And that’s the final, final learning point…learn from your encounters of the frog kind. Learn to distinguish warts from the mere bumps. And, when in doubt, listen to Three Dog Night!
“Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
William Shakespeare, “As You Like It,” II, I, 12