Monday, May 6, 2013

Where are you going, and why?

So, you are in transition, but are have you prepared yourself for your next big thing?  Maybe its not a "big" thing, maybe its just your thing.

With graduations occurring over the next couple of months, many students will be asked so what are you going to do now?  Many expect to be making 60K+ because that is a lifestyle they have become used to.  They have become used to their parents lifestyle, but they really don't remember how their parents started off, in most cases.  What is worse, is that many students are entering a world of debt that they are not prepared for. 

There has been much written in blogs, journals, and other publications about the debt that new High School and College Graduates will be saddled with, however, when working adults transition in their lives, are they truly ready and prepared?  Debt is one aspect of transition.  The more important aspect of transition, in my opinion, is how prepared is a person ready for the challenges of their next role?  For some, it is a promotion.  For others, it is a demotion.  For others, it is a total career change.  What people forget is how their experiences in a prior role can translate into a new adventure.

Here is an example.  Working in a contact center is not a lifelong dream of most young people.  Most contact centers, however, are staffed with individuals that bring a unique "flavor" to their employer.  They may have sold insurance; be technically savvy; have a legal background; sales background, etc.  They may have coursework that range from very little to PhD's, those that have college degrees, and others that have GED's.  The main point is that they prepared themselves as a professional in some way that makes them valuable to their employer.

As a person embarks on their next challenge, they need to ask themselves some very simple questions, regardless of the industry they are in.
  • Why am I embarking on this challenge
  • What do I hope to gain from this experience
  • Who will mentor me
  • When will I know if I am successful
  • Where do I see myself in 6 months, a year, five years
  • How is this experience going to allow me to improve or increase the tools in my toolbox
Education is an investment in a persons future, however, education without experience often leads to frustration.  When new college graduates expect to be earning 60K+ directly out of school, they don't realize the importance of experience.  Some are able to land high paying jobs directly out of school with very little experience, however, those are the exceptions.

Education and experience can come from many different places.  Be open to coaching, mentoring, constant development whenever it is offered to you.  This will allow you to become more well rounded as your career evolves.  Understand where you are at currently, know where you want to be, but most importantly know that your path is going to have a myriad of directional changes which will prepare you for the next fork in the road. 

Have a good week!


  1. I agree. While I was in college, I made sure to focus on certain areas of interest and learn as much about them as I could so I would have the experience. Not all undergrads are this lucky tho. I so happened to choose a communications major as well as a second writing major which allowed me to take plenty of journalism classes, write for the school paper, and work very closely for a company on a PR project. I also needed a capstone experience so I went out and got an internship to gain real world experience. Yes I had to pay to work for free, but I was going to pay to take a class and do work for that class so it makes sense and now I am better prepared.

  2. I'm not sure anyone is truly prepared for all the stages we go through. I trained as a teacher and ultimately became an VP of a large sales unite. To you point what I had dome in the past prepared me for that roll and ultimately made an asset to to company I worked for. Do I know that is where I wind up? Heck no. Life is a journey and sometimes we take a road less traveled and that is hard to prepare for:-), Susan Cooper

  3. I think about my son who is getting educated now in college - what will the work world be like for him? I hope he finds a good niche for himself. I don't know of many who both love, love their work and make good money. We all make choices.

  4. I will admit that I believe that we are on an ever changing path and our final destination can change. I am following my passion and started my own company. I get the best of both worlds.

  5. When it comes to education teenagers today need to look at where the jobs are. If they have good grades becoming a dentist is for instance a great idea since you will definitely get a job. Besides you can work anywhere in the world you please.

  6. When you consider that most adults don't do change and transition well, it's not surprising how unprepared most teenagers are for the challenges that face them after high-school or even university. It's not just the hurdle of deciding what they need to pursue, but assessing if the career path they choose is right for them as individuals.To be successful, and that's a loaded dice with a constantly shifting economy and marketplace, they almost need to see into the future. I think your last piece of advice captures the challenge best, "How is this experience going to allow me to improve or increase the tools in my toolbox."

    If it will expand their transferable skill-set, its probably a good bet.

  7. I feel alot of the problem today is that most grads coming out of school have no idea what to do. They have no idea what to do because parents today have become over protective. As children they were went to dance, played sports or had something planned. Children rely on their parents to tell them what to do when they graduate. It is hard for them to think on their own. Yes, the importance of experience is a big deal. But today's grads did not grow up in their parents time and need to look at the work force differently.

  8. I think entrepreneurship and self-employment are the answers to a lot of these questions about unemployment and student debt at the moment. Instead of waiting for someone to hand them a job, these young people could instead be getting out there and making things happen for themselves.

    Just a thought.

  9. I've taught high school English, and it's pretty apparent so many kids have no idea what they want to do with their lives. So they enroll in college, and for some the choice is great. They pick a career that will allow them to pay off their student debt and live a comfortable life. But many just end up with a lot of debt, which ends up putting a chokehold on them for years. I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life at that age (aside from being a writer) and my parents did not help me decide my career path in any way. Parental involvement can make such a huge difference.