Work Your Job

A lot of twenty-somethings I hear from are looking for a job or have lost their job in today’s economy. Or they feel like they are biding time in a job until they find “what they really want to do”. They come out of college ready to find the job of their dreams….one they love and that will be fulfilling and of course money will follow.  As one twenty-something said to me:

“When my friends and I were all coming out of college, and even now, we were seriously obsessed with ‘I have to find something fun. It has to be cool. I have to love it. I am not going to be like my parents who hate their jobs and are still just getting up and dong 9-5.’  We were obsessed with that. And then everybody ended up just having to take a job. Call it a Millennial thing but blame it on our parents. Our parents spent a serious amount of time telling us how they much they hated their job so we all come out of college with this “we must like what we do”. Then you can’t get hired and your like omg give me anything.”

I would say that isn’t unique to Millennials. We all came out of college full of idealism and wanting a cool job (even if not all of our parents hated their job:)  But then there was a recession and the bust a few years later…and yes, more than a few of us just had to take jobs. But what we know now is that it’s really just the beginning. Very few of us are doing the same job that we took when we got out of school. Not only can you change jobs but you can change what your job is.

One of my favorite 40-something advice was from a woman I interviewed in Calfornia: “It’s a lot easier to not know what you want to do while you are earning a salary”. Or perhaps conversely, it’s a lot easier to FIND what you want to do while you are earning a salary.

Of course, there are many more opportunities today to “create your own thing” with the Internet and start-up culture. But if that’s not working for you, or if you are not making money…then you should get a job and use that as a launch pad to find your thing. Don’t think of it as a dead end and don’t just bide your time. Use it!  Work it!

The story below is from a woman who is an HR director at what was once a start-up that failed and then rose out of the ashes to morph into something else  and now is one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in America. But not only did the company morph, so did she…she redefined what her job was. Her advice offers some great ideas on how to get the most out of the job you have now ….and how to apply that to a next job, in or out of the company.

“Keep your eyes open for any opportunity. The job may not be perfect but if you can read between the lines and see what might happen in the future, then maybe you’ll fit in a different capacity. Whether it be in the role you’re in now or  in a different department where you can see yourself long term.

Even if it looks like a dead end job or it’s not exactly what you want to do today, get good at it. Learn what you can from the people around you. Suck any information you can out of them. Find someone that is not necessarily even older but has more experience and pick their brains. Find out what they have done and how they got to where they are now.  That’s one thing that helped me. I didn’t just sit and say okay this is my job. It’s not what I signed up to do in life and it changed drastically (because of the economy) but in talking to people around me I learned what  opportunities might present themselves and what I needed to do to prepare myself to take on those changes. It’s almost like I was able to create my own job opportunity.  My dad was like, ‘Get out! Get out now!’ But I thought, “These guys are smart. I want to stick it out a little bit and give it a little more time.’

There were periods of time when there were tumbleweeds going through the office. You know when the .com was all over. But we survived and it opened a lot of doors and opportunities for me to get to where I am now professionally. There were a lot of lay-offs so it was me and just a handful of people. My boss was laid off and they asked me to do it all.  I had to make it up as I went and teach myself new things because I hadn’t done it before.  No other company would have hire me for the job I had because of my minimal experience in areas.

So I would say don’t just jump ship just if it’s not exactly what you want to do today. For so many 20-somethings it’s the ‘right now’ that is so important. They are not planning their life next year. But I think that they’re so concerned about getting exactly what they want right now that they might miss out on some bigger picture scenarios or opportunities that might present themselves. I think obviously the caveat to all of that is if we’re talking business only, it’s got to be a good company. You have to trust the executives and the people you are working with.”

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