Career Advice From a Careerless Man
You don’t want career advice from someone who’s going to have a career.
They’re going to give you all the good advice, all the solid, soul-crushing things that hurt me to repeat here. Network, they say. That’s…that’s all I remember, really. After I heard that, I started thinking about sharks that were also ghosts (ghost-sharks) and if they would be more or less dangerous than regular sharks, seeing as ghosts can’t quite bite you.
That’s because I’m an English major. I’m not prepared for a career and I don’t want one, so I’m uniquely prepared to give you career advice precisely because I don’t want one. While everyone else is talking about GPAs and Professional Dining Etiquette, I have some real advice. For example…
1. Make Sure You Like Your Job
Seriously: so many people forget this. If you go to work as a social media expert, ask yourself: is this something you want to be doing? Because it’s going to be what you do. If talking about paper-towels on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t sound appealing to you, then maybe you should bow out.
Do you really want to be an international banker? Can you deal with the long hours and old-boys club atmosphere for the fat paycheck when your job is more or less moving piles of money around trying to steal some of it? If so, awesome. I mean that. Buy me brunch. But if not, think carefully.
Some of the saddest people I know make six-figure salaries. Some of the happiest ones, too, to be fair. But a thirty dollar hamburger only goes so far in providing your happiness.
2. Do What You Like
Easy advice, often ignored. Do you like computer stuff? Do your computer stuff. But I have a friend who is good at computer stuff but doesn’t like the anti-social aspect of working tech at a major company. Your career-services would tell him to take the job, but as people, we want something more.
So what does my friend do? He’s teaching computer science for kids, doing private tutoring, and freelance work for the same company that wanted to hire him. The pay is comprable and it builds his resume plus he gets to be social with more flexible hours. He’s happier this way. Doing what you like isn’t just the work itself, but the structure of the work. Keep that in mind and focus on the content of what you do, but also the manner in which you can do it.
3. Time Is Money
Divide your paycheck by how many hours you’re expected to work. This should sound easy, but people forget it: in high-stress, high-paying jobs, you’re supposed to be on the clock all night long, even if you’re out of the office. If you’re losing sleep over your work, or working weekends, be sure to factor that into your paycheck. A Starbucks gig might pay less, but if you value your free time and need less anxiety, it might be a better deal than working on Wall Street.
4. Stay Calm
Don’t stress if you don’t know what you’re doing. Look around at all the people in the world: most of them have had jobs in their lives. Are they that much better than you? You’ll get a job, even if it takes longer than you’d like, and you have to wait tables. So what? Life is long and full of surprises. Work diligently to get chances, and enjoy life until you get them.
By which I mean talk to your friends for general advice, you know, like a regular person. They won’t give you jobs, but they’ll give you information: which jobs are cool, which ones are terrible, and if you’re lucky, they’ll tell you who is hiring.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll have a job for you. And one for me too, you know- finders fee and all.
Photo Credit: Teleyinex