Creating Longevity in Your Career

18 02 2015

One of the most frustrating times in a recent college graduate’s life (or even someone forced to make a career change) is when they are tasked with finding the perfect entry level position for a career within their field. One of the more difficult things that people encounter then searching for their first “Big Time” job, is the harsh reality that the salary they were expecting to make right out of college is, in fact, not going to happen. Seriously, it won’t.

I remember applying to jobs when I was still a college senior, in my spring semester (weeks before graduating), and specifically NOT applying to entry level positions. It was like I had this feeling that since I had a college degree, that I was “better” than entry level.

There was a great article that came out a few years ago out “our” generation, Millennials, (if you are 20-30 right now) and the way we look at careers. (To paraphrase the article a bit): We saw our parents and grandparents enjoy great wealth throughout their careers, and we expect the same with ours. The only difference is, that most of our parents started having children AFTER they become financially secure; thus our generation only remembering the good times. Don’t remember the times your parents were spending the last of their paychecks on $0.25 tacos at Jack-In-The-Box? Just ask them about it sometime.

Now, back to the point of this article … YOU are NOT too good to accept an entry level position no matter what career path you are looking to enter.

Flashback to my original pre-graduation job search – I thought that since I had the “classroom” experience working on marketing campaigns, introductory graphic design skills and sales experience, I would have no problem entering one of these careers a few steps up the corporate ladder. Today, I look back on this desire of mine and realize how much of my career I would have missed out on if this had happened to me, specifically. I have some friends that went straight into jobs hyper-focused on one avenue, albeit PR writing, graphic design, personal training, etc., and the thing that missed out on the most is the ability to find new aspects of a future job that they would have actually been very good at.

I consider myself blessed (yes, I know it is the most played-out word in the history of the world) to have been forced to accept an entry level position. I originally thought, back in my college days, that I would be sitting down with the big dawgs in a New York based ad agency brainstorming on how to create multi-million dollar campaigns from Day 1 of my career. However, what I found out about myself from being forced to take little drops from the water hose of marketing, was that I was good at a lot of things than I had originally thought. Today, my career looks very dissimilar to what my original job requirements asked of me, and I am thankful for that. Instead of sitting back and spending all of my time writing ad copy or email campaigns, I DO get to play the “bull-fighter” and create marketing tactics and work strategically to create ideas that may or may not work for our business. I’m thankful for the fact that my entry level job prepared me to pursue different avenues of the career ahead of me and I believe that it has helped me become indispensable for my businesses.

My challenge to any young person (or fresh career recruit) looking for a first job is not to pigeon hole yourself into thinking that you already know what you are good at and what you NEED to be doing. Find a job that will give you the education that you were not able to ingest while in college or career training, and be willing to fail at certain tasks. One of my first projects that was signed to me when I first entered the job market was a complete failure – I’m sure the binder is still sitting in a closet somewhere, unfinished. BUT, it enabled me to know exactly what I could do, and exactly what I SHOULD be doing with my time.

Case in Point – Want a long lasting career? Start at the bottom.

 

-AP

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