Picking a major in college was brutal. In fact, I registered 7 different majors during my four years. When I finally figured out my career path four years after I graduated I could see in hindsight several things I could have done to simplify the process and make a more educated decision.
So why aren’t college students my target market? Why don’t I spend my days coaching and writing for college students to help them avoid the mistakes I made?
The reality that I’ve come to over the past few years is that you simply need to get a first job out of college. Any job. There are certainly jobs that may be a better fit than others, but you can’t begin the real work of figuring out your life-path until you’ve experienced that first job.
Why? Why willingly subject yourself to a job that you may not even end up staying in?
I was talking to a friend recently who I had met while she was a student at Rice. She had been in the leadership program I coordinated and we’ve stayed in contact since we both work in the same industry. She said her first job out of college was essential for two reasons:
1. She figured out her non-negotiables. For example, she didn’t realize the power of a strong leadership team in making or breaking her job satisfaction. She’s now more committed to really understanding the leadership team of any future organization she chooses to work for. The first job gives you an opportunity to figure out what really matters.
2. She gets to cross things off her list and explore areas she didn’t previously know much about. This is genius. She’s got an open mind and a growth mindset. She’s using her first few jobs as a research study to learn what she likes and doesn’t like and what she wants to do next. She’s not afraid to be in an industry that she may not end up staying in. Most people I coach feel stuck and like they can’t make a change. You can always make a change. In fact, she’s going into her first job expecting to make a change. I’ve also coached people who are afraid to try a career path such as teaching or counseling or business, as if you only get to pick one and that’s your gig for the rest of your life. This isn’t Divergent. You can always make a change.
I’m not opposed to coaching college-age career-seekers. In fact, I think there are many things you can do to reduce the pain in the process. But nothing beats the first job in helping you figure out what really matters to you and to try things you’ve never tried before and that you may never try again.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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