Tag Archives: changing careers

When Looking For A Job, Trust Your Gut

I’m in full-on job hunt mode.

I’m pouring over listings, sending out cover letters and networking wildly (in person and Online).

As I mentioned last week, I love looking for work. So I find this process energizing rather than enervating. But even as a veteran of two career changes (with a possible third in the works), I still find myself making rookie mistakes.

I realized this the other night when I was out for drinks with a group of parents from my daughter’s class. I got to chatting with one of the Dads, a journalist who works for a financial news outlet. I told him that I was looking for work and asked him to keep an eye out for any positions that might open up at his company.

“Do you like finance?” he asked.

“Not really,” I said. “But I know something about it and could definitely do it.”

He frowned. Only moments earlier, I’d confessed to the entire group that I’d almost stayed home that night to watch the first episode of the season on Glee. And as we all know, that’s normally the sort of thing I leave social engagements to do.

“You should write about musical theatre,” he observed. “It’s always best to do what you love.”

How right he was. In fact, it’s precisely the same advice I always give to others when they consult me on career change: figure out what you like and what you’re good at and where those intersect. Harder than it sounds, but well worth the effort.

While I don’t think a career as a West End musical critic is in the cards for me right now (much as I would adore it), this fellow did remind me that it’s really important to keep my eye on the prize: not the jobs – like financial journalism – that I *should* apply to because I’m qualified for them. But the jobs that I want to apply to because I’m passionate about them.

In other words, as with so many things in life, beware the dreaded SHOULDs.

How fortuitous then, that the following video popped into my Inbox this morning (sent to me by the very same journalist-friend in question.) It’s from a new company based here in London called Escape The City, a self-described community of “talented professionals who ‘want to do something different.'”

On its About page, Escape The City features a motivational video called Start Something You Love. I must have watched it about three times this morning and sent it on to a few friends as well. (You gotta love the guy who dumped his job as a hedge fund manager in London to become a Galudo Beach Lodge manager in Mozambique.)

Sounds great but how do you start? If you’re one of the millions of people out there who’s having trouble figuring out what it is that you really want to do with your life, here are four tips for determining your dream job, courtesy of Susan Cain over on Quiet: The Power of Introverts. I’d seen some variation on the first three ideas before. But I’d never seen the last one – which is to pay attention to what makes you cry.

I’ve been thinking about it all morning.

Sniff.

 

Image: vacancy by digitalpimp via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

 

 

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Continuing Education: The Importance of Experimentation

I went to a three-hour lesson on pod-casting on Sunday afternoon. It was the first in a two-part course I’m taking at London’s adult learning centre, CityLit. The course is designed to introduce beginners to the art of internet broadcasting.

I’m a big fan of taking classes in adulthood. Since moving to London four years ago, I’ve taken classes in fiction writing and acting. In Chicago, I took classes in freelance writing and memoir. And once, many moons ago, I took a class in beginning Hebrew (not to mention the continuing ed. class to end all continuing ed. classes: I’m Jewish, You’re Not.)

According to a report released jointly by the Penn State University Office of Outreach Marketing and Communications and University Continuing Education Association in 2006, up to 45 percent of colleges and university enrollment in the United States is from adult learners. Revenues for continuing education rose 67 percent at the institutions surveyed in this report from 2004.

People go back to school as grown-ups for lots of different reasons. Sometimes, it’s to pursue a hobby. You try something new (or return to something old.) You meet new people. You get out of your comfort zone. Above all, you have fun. (And yes, for the record, I’m still eyeing that course at CityLit entitled Actors Singing From West End to Broadway.)

Sometimes you go back to school because you need to re-tool professionally. From 2008 to 2018, the labor force is projected to grow more diverse and have more workers age 55 and older. Simultaneously, the highest-paying jobs – those that require at least a bachelor’s degree – are expected to increase at a rate faster than that of overall job growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So it’s  a good bet that we’ll be seeing more Americans – particularly boomers – sharpening their pencils and buying new notebooks as they gear up for a second or third career.

But the main advantage of adult education is that it enables you to experiment. Chris Brogan – guru of all things social media – talked about this recently. Brogan thinks about experimentation in terms of labs. (He’s currently experimenting with a new travel site called Man On The Go.)

His main point is that experimentation is crucial to growth. Why? Because you test drive new ideas. You collaborate. You enjoy the fun of failure, as Gretchen Rubin likes to put it. Above all, you create ideas of your own, rather than just reporting on the ideas of others.

Which is why I’m learning how to podcast. I’m not yet sure exactly how I’ll incorporate podcasting into my life, and whether it will be more of a hobby or something that I use in work. But I have a few ideas. More importantly, I know that if I don’t start experimenting now – creating a lab, as it were – I’ll never find out.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll be the next Cezanne

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Apologies that my weekly tips for adulthood post did not appear yesterday. Due to the editing schedule over at www.PoliticsDaily.com, that particular post will come out next week.

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And speaking of Politics Daily, be sure to check out my post today on the new Pro-Islam ads running in London. It’s kind of the UK’s answer to the whole “What Would Jesus Do?” campaign. Except that it’s “What Would Mohammed Do?” Check it out…

Image: Podcasting by hawaii via flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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