Without saying that we should all be 'non-committal, job-hoppers', not focusing on a single career, trying out many things in our working life, here are signposts along a deliberately zig-zaggy career path:
Start with a career path (see Table of contents)- Try a career- Get mentors- Try another career on side (side projects, volunteering, internships)- Take up that career- Don't like it? Back to the pen and paper, and let's have a look at the career plan (see above_ again, shall we?- Or, do you want take one of those expensive career fit tests?- Maybe a new degree (MBA) to help rise up faster- Another side project- Ultimately, find a career you actually like
In another career book, this is rambling career plan is shortened as: 'Dabbling- Interested- Intrigued but Uncertain- Passionate- Totally Committed'
The most likely career path to become President of the U.S.: Harvard Law School, Get close to the right people, Congressman, President.
Do what ever feels right in the moment. Your career will always be shaped by a bunch of random events anyway. If you keep an open mind you should always be able to put a life together that fits the person you are.
It's normal to be confused. Don't stress. Know yourself. Think, think, think. Try new things. What can you do that would make people happy? (and pay you in return)
If you want an average successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:
Become the best at one specific thing.
Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.
The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don’t recommend anyone even try.
The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.
...Get a degree in business on top of your engineering degree, law degree, medical degree, science degree, or whatever. Suddenly you’re in charge, or maybe you’re starting your own company using your combined knowledge.
Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty goods until no one else has your mix...
It sounds like generic advice, but you’d be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.
(Source: Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert)
The best thing I heard on the issue: A 'useless' degree is only made useless by the individual.
For example, an English degree will not get you a job on its own. You have to really market and sell yourself and explain what you did as an English major to get a job. You have to start small- even an internship or a volunteer job will open doors for your future.
You get any degree, but if you work hard and network, you have a better chance of a decent paying job, whatever your degree. That is what I believe.
You will also help your cause if you add on some marketable skills to your degree, via certifications.
Start with caring about your degree. Start with an open, enthusiastic mind.
None among us can possess all the skills (afraid of public speaking, stammering. Many of us have shortcomings (high school diploma only, have worked for just one company, too old/too young/too shy, large job gaps, 'wrong gender', 'wrong race/color') or there is something in our background that is working against us (e.g. prison time, chronic physical or mental disabilities).
But know this: People hire us for what we can do for them, not for what we can't do. As long as we have something that people value, we will be okay.
In the United States alone, there are over eight million vacancies available each month.
On average, workers will change jobs about seven times during their careers.
Nearly 80 percent of all jobs require some sort of post-secondary training.
Skilled jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree constitute almost half of today’s job market.
As technology advances, more high-tech workers will need to return to school to learn new skills.
- 'What color is your parachute?', by Richard Bolles
If everybody is getting into it, the barrier for entry is extremely low, but anyone can make it anytime, no knows when. That's the beauty of these 'popular' careers.
E.g. Law: There are far too many lawyers, and it is hard to stand out/make money (and pay back the student loans)
Some careers look exciting from outside, but they may involve lots and lots of work, with little extra pay or recognition.
E.g. Audio engineer
E.g. Programmer/Web developer/App maker- You can teach yourself and start making stuff
Get any normal 'trade' degree from cheaper community colleges and you will do better (save money, get a job quicker)- e.g. accounting
It all depends what you're good at and then you going out- getting experience (internships, volunteer, online /offline projects) and getting some marketable skills (certifications, experience) if you haven't any.
- Work for yourself (skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled)
- programming/web development
- Sales: It is a lot of slog, but sometimes, commissions can be good. Helps if you like chatting up receptionists, pounding the street, knocking on doors and meeting people.
- Armed forces
+ Police (age restrictions)
Cynics will say, and there is much truth to it: Most of the time, the only people to win big in the startup lottery are the founders and the VCs.
The things about working at startups: There's a lot to learn as there is a lot to do and a lot to screw up. Hiring, team building, development process, day to day management, transparency, culture, customer support, back end processes, employee retention, burnout...it is all happening in so double / treble the time.
Some say to 'learn how to start your own company by working at someone else's company', but conditions are never the same elsewhere. It is a 50 / 50 things. At most, you can hope to move into a senior position in a bigger company with your 'rich experience'.
Those startup careers that helping the employee grow, learn more stuff and being comfortable with handing more opportunities, and so on, are good careers.
A startup career is good for those in product development, for people who like making things. These people carry the learning to the next product development job effortlessly, more if they are very much taking each job as a new project.
Biologist. Surveyor. Navy. Virtually any academic job that's going to have you travel a lot is almost certainly going to require a masters or higher.
1. Skilled trades: Electricians, plumbers, HVAC workers, sheet-metal workers, elevator constructors, ironworkers, construction union workers etc. These pay well if you work hard.
You can start working right after high school. Just do an apprenticeship alongside college/high school education.
Skilled trades tend to have better job security. If you are competent at your job, it is very hard to replace you. People with experience get much value here.
And you can move up too, after 8-10 years experience in a specific trade: Become inspector, supervisor, foreman, or you even open your own company if you like.
Someone said that the great thing about starting a company that revolves around a skilled trade is that you are the biggest asset over there.
2. Information technology (IT): I don't why but IT careers are skilled trades too.
You will do well in IT as long as you keep learning new stuff, doing new projects that showcase your newly acquired skills and keeping clients/boss happy.
Other skilled trades with good opportunities all year around: Truck driver - Dental technician – etc.
There are three ways we learn about a career:
1. We see it first hand - Office/factory tours, videos etc
2. We try out the career - part-time, side projects, internships etc. or, 3. We ask experienced people in the career.
Example of questions to ask these experienced hands include:
- How and why did you choose this career?
- Can you tell me about your typical “work life”?
- What are the best things about your job?
- What are the not-so-good things about your job?
- Can you please tell me about the typical working conditions - stress, space, environment, etc.?
- What education requirements, college degrees, licenses, or vocational training are needed for this career? Where did you study?
- What are the most important skills and abilities required for this job?
- Would you choose this career if you could make the decision again?
- What do you wish you knew (but didn’t) when you first thought about this career? Anything that you would you do differently?
- What are the best jobs in this career?
- Are there any trends in this line of work that concern you? Anything that will make this career choice more or less attractive in the future?
- What do you think is the future for this industry?
- How do manage your work and life doing this job?
- What is the entry level salary? How much does a few years' experience get you?
- Are their any related careers/industries that I should also look into?
- Where do you get latest news and tips about this career from?
- Any final 'words of advice' for me?
Becoming a Buddhist Monk will achieve all of your requirements:
'off the beaten track'
doesn't follow a strict 9-5 pattern
takes you places
not a 'job' in the traditional sense
not open to everybody
doesn't pay good money
*Freedom from life and death
If you have a career in mind, why not try it out first in one of the following ways?
1. Part-time employment in a particular field.
Gives you experience. Gives you references.
2. Job Shadowing by watching someone at work.
You get a firsthand idea of the day-to-day activities in a particular job, finding out the skills you would need to do that job. Of course, you got to ask questions to know stuff.
3. Volunteer and get an opportunity to give back to the community while building your resume.
4. Temporary staffing companies are the rage nowadays, especially in the post-2008 era. As its name implies, a temporary help firm places
5. Internships are often full time, often unpaid/underpaid temporary working arrangements, which give you valuable work experience, a resume credit (for fresh graduates), a good reference and professional contacts.
Other small ways:
- School Clubs focused on specific careers, especially the ones having guest speakers, workplace tours, trips to conferences and competitions and like.
- Community Agencies such as YMCA
The term for our stars-driven economy is 'Superstar Economy' and the economics of this area is that a very select few make it to the top and they make most of the money, also cornering most of the fame.
One can mention one depressing study-based number after another about how 1/10000 of this or that make it, but you get that idea.
So, what do you do then?
For example, if you had dreams of being a sports star, but you couldn't be, you can be many things in sports. You can be these: Broadcaster/Journalist, Photojournalist, Coach/Umpire, Facilities Manager, Physical Therapist, Sports Statistician, Sports Turf Specialist etc. There are tons of jobs in the background.
Did I forget to mention that most of the time, our career dreams are shaped by the media, by stuff we see or hear about- in the movies. on TV so and so on? Let's go back to the basics, see where our interests, strengths and opportunities intersect.
What bring meaning to life depends on your circumstances and preferences. But first of all, meaning comes from service. It comes from care. We have a 70-year life span, our ancestors came down from the trees only some couple of hundred thousand years ago, and the sun will go down in 5 billions years, and all information of this nature can make nihilists out of us, thinking nothing matters, we don't matter, but we can still try to do our bit. Doing our bit, aka meaning.
Meaning from service
The best way to create meaning in your career is do something that makes a positive difference in the world- something you do everyday at work that makes the world a better place to live. But the reality is that society conditions us to be wilful participants of a rat race, we can't even believe that another world is possible.
Examples of careers that bring meaning to life: Affordable / free education (High school teacher, volunteer teachers, etc) , affordable /urgent /free healthcare (e.g. Medicine Sans Frontier), Providing free funeral services (this is from real life too), Affordable / free therapy and counselling
Examples of careers that feed your family and that's it: Internet companies specializing in getting people to click on links, big brand outfits (these temples of bureaucracy aka MBAs), metals and oil traders, stock trading, hedge funds, banks, consultancy companies...it is an endless list. At end of the movie 'Wall Street', the father of the convicted trader(our hero) tells the son that he must give up making money from trading on other people's hard work, and make something himself. Now, that's an idea.
Other way we can help out the world: Philanthropy (it doesn't matter how you made the money- almost none of the big philanthropists made their money in the legit way)
Meaning from ethical living
You can create meaning in life if you are satisfied with a basic income, living frugally, giving all your time towards your chosen ethical objectives.
Meaning from sense of self worth
Often, we are stuck in a career that is doing nothing for us, we are lost in the crowd, trying to find our way through the labyriths. We are not learning new stuff in our niche however hard we try, and we love the niche. Then it is time for us to move where can try and regain our self worth.
Meaning from small steps
Not everyone among us can realistically expect to create the next huge world-saving thing. Come to think of that most of world-saving stuff is created by scientists working long years. Point is, when you think of meaning, my suggestion is to not be an egotist (the best, world chaging, futuristic, etc) about it. Start by helping the old lady cross the road. Next, you will learn about the reason she has to cross the busy road everyday. Start by giving two dollars to charity instead of drinking overpriced coffee everyday. There are opportunities for small meanigful steps all around us. Take them
Meaning from empathy
This is an extension of 'meaning from small steps'. When you start seeing the world as others see it, you gain more understanding about the world. The simplest understanding is of awe, there are so many worlds being lived in all around us. Empathy, by bringing us out of our shells, broadens our world. If we let empathy guide our actions, we may hope to be better persons for other people and living things around us, and we may be more considerate towards our planet.
Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life. Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.