Archive for September, 2012

Option A Vs. Option B: Which Career Should You Choose?

When I was a little girl I always thought I would grow up to be a vet. I loved animals, love playing Operation, it just made sense. As I grew into my teens and I faced my grade 10 biology exam of dissecting a frog, I realized that I just wouldn’t be able to stomach it. As I grew into an adult I changed my career choice as much as I changed my hair color (which trust me, in those days, was a lot).

Figuring out THE job, your chosen profession isn’t easy, especially when you are torn between several good options. If you decide one thing, you could get stuck there with little room for growth, choose another more risky career path and you might have to struggle financially for the rest of your life. It’s not Russian roulette; it’s your future. Considering that an average individual spends 33% of their week at work, and an additional 14 % thinking about work, it’s a pretty critical decision how you want to spend almost half of your time.

When you find yourself at a cross roads between two career paths, you have to consider many variables, for instance;

1. Where do I see myself 10 years from now, will this job give me the experience I need to get me there?

2. What skills do I have, How do these relate to my career choices?

3. What salary do I need to sustain my lifestyle?

4. Does this job have potential for growth and variety?

5. Compare location, travel time to and from work.

6. Think about the environment you want to work in. Would you fit better in a busy, pressurized environment or in a slower paced, supportive space.

7. Look at work hours and how they will affect your personal life.

All of these points should definitely be taken into consideration, but essentially it all comes down to you. You can ask friends and family for advice or talk to people in your desired profession, but human instinct is one of the most powerful factors of individual action, so go with your gut. If your heart isn’t in it, then the job you choose will become a chore and gradually you will become bored, even frustrated, and it will begin to affect your personal life. You have to choose a job that you will enjoy, or essentially the one that meets your needs and aspirations.

If you are presented with two great opportunities, weigh the pros and cons and look at the points above for guidance. It’s never an easy decision, and you will probably always wonder “What if?” The same as thinking about an old flame, you career is an inherent part of your future and helps shape who you are, but the choice you make to go forward will be the right one for you. If down the line you’re not happy, you can always change your mind and move in a different direction. Nothing is set in stone.

But for now weigh the options, take a leap of faith, and see where it takes you. Enjoy the journey…

Ashley Bentley is an employment advisor for Open Door group in Vancouver, British Columbia. Whilst supporting clients reach their employment goals, Ashley is also an active part of the community.  She has volunteered for several women’s organization and taken part in fundraising activities for the Scotia Bank Aids walk. Ashley enjoys swimming, attending theatre and music performances and has an avid love for cheese.

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The Hope In Insecurity

While I’d love to say otherwise, I’m no stranger to the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and hopelessness that so often accompany a long-term job search. Though it’s been a few years since I’ve experienced the trials and tribulations of looking for a job, I hear about these struggles on a regular basis from the students and alumni I work with at Simon Fraser University. Though they often put a valiant effort forth to hide just how hard it is for them to still be looking for work, the emotional toll is there, just under the surface, plain to see for one who’s looking.

Rejection is a part of life, to be sure. There’s only so much a person can take, however, before their defenses start to wear down. And as anyone who’s been through a long-term job search knows, rejection as a daily experience is eroding indeed. It certainly doesn’t help – as clients of mine have told me on numerous occasions – when you look around and everyone else seems to have their life so nicely put together. Nobody else seems to be experiencing the same struggles as you. In fact, every time you log on to Facebook, there seems to be yet another person talking about their wonderful new job, or their new house, or their wonderful engagement photos, and all sorts of other happy news.

All it does is make you feel worse.

It’s for reasons like these that one of the messages I try to deliver to students is that hope, persistence, and optimism are key factors in the success of their job search. I’m not alone in this line of thinking, either – leading theorists and researchers in the field of career development have identified these traits as essential.

So, when I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed the other day, and I saw an update from George Takei’s Facebook page, I couldn’t help but stop to reflect on some of my own experiences with insecurity.

The update is a quotation from one Steve Furtnick, and reads as follows: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

Rewind a year or so. I’ve finished every requirement of my Masters degree except for my thesis, which is undergoing major delays, without a clear end in sight. My plan all along had been to finish the whole degree in two years so I could get along with my professional life. It’s now been three years since I started the program, and there’s no clear end in sight. People who started the program at the same time as me have been finishing and raving about their brave new exploits and new jobs and fantastic lives online for months. The deadline for graduation goes by – that means another year. I’m stuck! What did I do to deserve this? Why couldn’t I have chosen an easier thesis topic? Maybe I should just give up!

That degree would go on to take a total of four years to complete, and there were definitely some dark moments. Moments when I considered throwing the whole thesis away. Moments when I doubted my competence as a professional. Moments when I simply felt lost.

I wanted things to go differently. In the end, though, I realized a simple truth – one that I have shared with clients on many occasions: I was doing the best I could in all of those moments – the best I could muster in any of those scenarios, under those circumstances. It couldn’t have gone any other way.

But I got carried away in comparing my own struggles to my peers’ success, and this is where George Takei’s update really struck a chord with me. Life’s cruel joke is that everyone is just about as insecure as everyone else – but by displaying our successes, we project an image that is calm, cool, collected, and confident, as if that is how we actually think of ourselves all of the time.

I sure don’t know anyone like that (and when I say ‘know’ – I mean have a meaningful relationship with). In other words, everyone’s screwed up – and that’s a wonderful thing!

Eventually I was able to take the steps necessary to complete my thesis and my graduate degree. Comparing myself to others didn’t help in the slightest – but sharing my difficulties with those around me always made me feel better. And when I talked about it with those peers who I thought had everything all nicely put together, I soon learned that they had experienced similar struggles too. That comfort – of knowing I wasn’t alone – was liberating enough. But the odd sense of hope it provided was also fuel for me to take the actions necessary to move forward.

And that, I suppose, is the point. In an odd way, there’s hope in insecurity.

I suspect Alfred Adler would have agreed. To conclude, one of my favourite quotations of his: “The only normal people are the ones we don’t know very well.”

David Lindskoog is a career advisor at Simon Fraser University in Surrey, British Columbia. In addition to helping students grow their careers, he’s an avid writer, fantasy nerd, and lover of fine single malt scotch. Connect on twitter at @lindenforest and davidlindskoog.com.

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Mastering The Art Of A Career Fair

We’ve posted before on how to navigate a career fair and be successful.  What we didn’t do is put it together in this memorable infographic that Rasmussen College put together. Enjoy and happy networking!

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What Kind Of Music Should I Listen To On The Job?

It’s summer and My ESC is pumping up the tunes.  What kind of music should we listen to on the job?  BitRebels.com thought this infographic would help us out.

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