Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Five): Fire Up Your Dreams

It is college graduation season. New graduates are celebrating their achievements and giving themselves a well-deserved pat on the back.  I congratulate each and every one of you. Good job.

(Photo by m00by from flickr, via Creative Commons)

You are probably  thinking about your next step in life.  Should I get some experience in the “real world” or continue on to graduate school? Can I find a job that will allow me to be self-supporting or do I need to move back home with Mom and Dad? What can I do with a major in Canadian Studies?

I remember that feeling. My first step after graduating from college was to move from Minneapolis to South Florida. I didn’t have any job prospects, but I did have a place to live.  Moving back into my parents’ house was not an attractive option at that stage of my life. They were nice people but a little set in their ways at that point in their lives, which included playing the television at top volume through the prime time shows, The Ten O’Clock News and The Tonight Show.

In Florida, I worked as a waitress and then as a secretary.  After a year of struggling to find my way, I joined the Navy.

I could have benefited from some career advice at that point in my life.  These days, career resources can be found in print and online formats, and include  books, websites and people who make a living advising others on how to find their “dream job.”

But the point really isn’t to find your dream job. For most of us, the dream job is getting paid lots of money to think big thoughts, tell others what to do, and spend as little time in the office as we can get away with. That would be a boring disappointment though, because the real pay-off in life comes from experiencing your work as an extension of your dreams, hopes and desires, and not just as a paycheck. You are what you do. Make it count.

I see career resources as being grouped into six broad categories, which I list for you below, along with some examples in each category that are worth exploring:

1.      Figuring out what you should do with your life:

2.      Finding jobs that fit your interests and skill:

3.      Honing your job hunting skills:

4.      Learning how to network:

5.      Preparing to enter the real world:

6.      Succeeding at your first job:

Happy dreaming!

10 thoughts on “Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Five): Fire Up Your Dreams

  1. I read your first in this series a while ago, and when I saw this one, I went back and read the ones in between. So this comment is not specific to this post. Nice series and good advice! Must be something about midlife that generates this reckoning. I agree that the economy of the late ’70s / early ’80s felt similar to now. True – it is the job market more than anything else (although gas is making inflation seem similar, worse than it is, and the banks’ miserly approach to capital is making that seem similar too, even though interest rates are lower). In terms of exploration / risk-taking / foolish behavior – I don’t regret it, and wouldn’t have wanted to emulate my more sedate, decisive friends. But many of today’s twenty-somethings don’t have the luxury – they are facing thousands of dollars of debt when they graduate. Thirty years ago, even those who had to financially struggle through college did not take on as big a burden, since college costs have skyrocketed.

  2. I was surprised to learn that most of the economic indicators were worse back in 1983 then they are now. Things seem so much worse now. I assume that is because I am paying attention now and was not paying attention back then. Ignorance truly is bliss.

  3. Great advice! I’m making my daughter (junior in high school) read these now — proactive is the best approach. Maybe she’ll listen to you instead of me! 🙂

    • Thanks. Let me know if you make it past the “you-must-be-wrong” filter and she has any feedback.

  4. Pingback: Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Six): “So, How is the Law?” « INDIE ALBANY

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