Saturday, July 26, 2008

Straight Talk about Finding a Career

Career contentment rarely comes from figuring out the right career for you. It generally comes only after you've gotten into some career that's a reasonable fit, done a thorough job search so you can land a decent job, and then gotten really competent at your job.

So, pick something, anything--perhaps a career in which you have connections that can help you get a good first job or at least be a mentor to you. Then throw yourself into your work as though you were totally passionate about it. I've found that to be the surest route to career contentment.

If you're older than 25 and still trying to figure out what career to pursue, be sure you're not just procrastinating because you really don't want a career.


Charles said...

"Career contentment rarely comes from figuring our the..."

Marty Nemko said...

Thanks, Charles, for pointing out a typo in this and in another post.

Anonymous said...


I agree with the first two paragraphs, but as someone who took the long road not realizing what leads to career contentment until I was well into my thirties, I have to disagree with the last paragraph.

I think 25 is a little early to know what career to pursue in this country where the my ADD generation (and younger) is brought up on TV, single-parent homes and books that tell you you can do anything when you really can't. Perhaps more than any other time in history, there are a number of personal factors that play out the workplace because there's no parent, mentor or family to answer key questions. I'm pretty confident that the person older than 25 who still works at Starbucks blending frappachinos (sp) is there not because he doesn't really want a career but because it's more important to belong, even at $8/hour. I wouldn't say he's "screwing around" in the sense you may have implied, the priorities are just different.

My challenge? Even though I graduated on time and always knew what I was good at, I started down a path toward a prestige career in federal law enforcement. It took me some time to learn that prestige is shallow and inconsistent with my personality or values. But once I went that way and tried to change direction, opportunities were few. And truth be told, my confidence was shot.

It wasn't until after 30 that I had felt equipped with enough maturity and understanding to consider "creating" my own opportunity as the tools for self-employment were more readily available.

Tack on folks who are on the 6-year college plan and 25 is a best case scenario for the best of us.