Archive for August, 2010

Why You Don’t Marry or Paint Yourself into a Career Corner Before the Age of 25

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

We’ve all heard it before: marriage before 25 is rarely a good idea, and it’s usually our parents who first enlighten us to that bit of wisdom. You don’t know who you are and you don’t know who’ll be ten years from now. That same process goes into limiting yourself in terms of your career, says career coach and founder A. Harrison Barnes (and our parents, too).

One woman revealed in a recent interview that she was the one who everyone thought would be married right out of high school, complete with the mini van, picket fence and 2.5 kids while everyone also assumed her younger sister would be the one who discovered her independence, traveled and with a career to die for. Turns out, everyone was completely wrong. The older sister is the one who’s preparing for a trip to Spain for a series of lectures while the younger sister is busy planning cheerleading camp for her three teenage daughters and juggling dinner and shopping around her appointment with the washing machine repairman. Sound familiar? Turns out, it’s not all that uncommon. This, of course, reiterates what Barnes says: assume nothing.

“Each of our life stages serve definitive purposes”, says the founder. Once we’ve gained our education and realize many doors exist, each one ready to walk through, we learn that our dreams of becoming an engineer one day might now mean our interests are geared towards a career in meteorology instead. This is one reason it’s important to keep an open mind when we’re considering our futures in terms of what it is we will ultimately make our living at. In fact, one of the best ways to see, firsthand, how things can change on a dime is to look at some of your favorite celebrities. There are few, if any at all, that didn’t start out as a teacher or a cosmetologist or even dreams of becoming an airline pilot (think John Travolta). So, you see, while chasing your dreams are important, says A. Harrison Barnes, sometimes the beauty is following an unexpected path. Often, that’s when you find true satisfaction not only in your choice of jobs, but your life as a whole.

Fortunately, changing careers usually doesn’t require a major shift, with the exception of additional educational requirements. Still, and even if the thought of going back for another semester or two is anything but pleasant, keep in mind that those few months can equate to a lifetime of new opportunities and better satisfaction in your decisions.

Finally, A. Harrison Barnes says even if you’re certain by the time you reach thirty that your choices were solid, don’t assume by the time you reach forty that you’re cemented into place. It’s not uncommon at all for any of us to hit that magical number and decide to really shake things up – including our career choices. That said, it’s up to you to turn the corner should you face the realization that you want something different. Besides, changing careers is far less traumatic than facing a divorce with someone you thought you knew when you were 23, only to realize at 33 you not only know him or her, but you didn’t even know yourself at that age.

New to the Workforce?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Recent college graduates have always known there’s a period of adjustment when transitioning from college campus to employee parking lot. Some are better prepared than others, but usually, there’s always a bit of nervousness until they get their new routines down. A. Harrison Barnes, career coach and founder, offers these tips for those just entering the workforce:

When you accept a position, but sure you understand the company’s policies on everything from the dress code to any professional associations you’re expected to join. Ask questions, take notes and ask for clarification when it’s needed. The new employer wants to see inititiatve and ensuring you understand the guidelines means it’s important to you , too.

Understand that you’re about to transition from a classroom of folks who were likely your own age to a new dynamic that includes people of all ages and with vastly different backgrounds, says A. Harrison Barnes. You’ll meet folks with a lifetime of experience – take the opportunity to learn something. Don’t fall into that trap of thinking younger is better prepared. It’s not always the case.

Keep in mind too that while you’re used to a structured environment with definitive start and finish times in your classroom settings, you’re going to face the occasional early morning or late evening meeting. Prepare to ensure your attendance, says the founder.

Also, you’re not going to be receiving the level of feedback you had grown accustomed to in school. No grades, no notes on returned papers – it’s just you and your job and odds are, you’ll hear more about what you’re doing wrong than what you’re doing right. Rest assured the accolades will come, but not with the frequency of requests to redo a project because the guidelines weren’t followed. Learn to accept the criticism and the requests with grace and maturity.

Understand it’s going to take time to get used to your new environment. There’s a learning curve and no employer expects a new hire to walk in with a complete understanding of what’s expected. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, Barnes suggests.

Keep in mind, too, that while you may be used to multi-tasking – including grabbing a slice of pizza and eating over your laptop during finals, it could be your new employer doesn’t allow eating in the workspace. If that’s the case, plan accordingly and remember, it’s not a new rule designed to make your life hard – it is what it is.

Finally, Barnes suggests that you steer clear of office politics and the office gossip. It’s never professional and could put you in a light you don’t want. You’re already the new kid on the block; when the office gossip hones in on you, be kind and polite and remain professional, but make it clear your objective is to do your job to the best of your abilities with as little insight as possible as to who’s fooling around with whom.
Before long, you’ll be fully acclimated in your new position. From there, the sky’s the limit in terms of where you take your career.