I read a tweet today on my twitter feed (@jacksoncareer) and it immediately piqued my interest. I glanced at the proposed career myths in this article by U.S. News & World Report and was inspired to add my own insights. I think the article is fabulous as written, so please follow the link to read it for yourself. But I also thought it might be informative to add some of my own insights. Don’t hesitate to also gather other opinions on these commonly held beliefs. Knowledge is power! You might find different answers. Instead of letting yourself become confused by discrepant information, use it to build your own opinion and make up your own mind about how to use the information to your own advantage.
Here are some common phrases and sentiments that get thrown around frequently in casual conversation. I agree with the author of this article that they may be myths, worthy of further consideration and deeper reflection…See what you think:
1. A college degree will get you a job.
The degree won’t get you the job; your own self-insight and awareness about where you fit into the world of work will. Do your homework and find out where your place is. It could be that college is the perfect fit for you. But be at least relatively certain about this before applying so that you avoid wasting precious time. Find the program and career that fits you best, then look at what training or educational program meets your needs, whether it be college, an apprenticeship, or on-the-job training. Equally important to understand is that college is not for everyone. It’s important to know yourself and your strengths and interests before embarking on something that might not be a perfect match for you and your learning and career preparation needs. Try the JCE to learn more about your interests and the path that best suits you.
2. Do what you’re passionate about and the money will follow.
We’ve broached this in previous posts, and it’s worth discussing again. It’s probably the maxim I read most often in marketing materials and casual tweets. Yes, sometimes the money will follow. But sometimes it won’t. And unless you’re one of the lucky ones, you may get stuck at a dead end. I can’t say it any better than the author of the article: “In reality, not all passions match up with the realities of the job market.” By all means, explore the career you’re passionate about, but pursue it only under the assumption that the money, or a realistic, viable job opportunity, may not follow as easily or as smoothly as you had imagined. Unfortunately, not all aspiring actors end up making it. And don’t panic if you don’t know your passion. You have time to discover it along the way. In the meantime, explore jobs that you think you would like to do, and see where this takes you.
3. If you can’t find a job, start your own business.
Yikes. Proceed with caution. Admittedly, I have no experience in starting a business. But my perspective is: being an entrepreneur is your job. It will be your source of income. It is a big commitment. It is not your plan B. So if you find yourself thinking about it as Plan B, I would advise you to reconsider. Just as you have to demonstrate strong skills and aptitude to get accepted into a difficult program or internship, you have to be competitive in spirit and in product/service to launch a successful business. You need to be offering something innovative, something that the market needs, and you need to be able to prove this to yourself first, then to your market. Otherwise, you could find yourself back at square one, searching for a job with a failed business under your belt.
4. Your major in college will lead to your career.
Not always. Career paths are not as linear as they once were. New jobs are being invented all the time. A direct educational or training path may still be in development for some of these new jobs. Millennials will switch from job to job sometimes not settling, ever. English majors, for example, have to make their own path, find their own niche. However, engineering majors will usually start out in an engineering job, but could end up doing something completely different 5 years later. Be flexible in exploring your career options. Speak to others who started out in your shoes and learn from experienced professionals about where different paths could lead you.
5. If you’re not sure what you want to do, go to grad school.
If you choose to do this, you will get a rude awakening at grad school. You will probably find yourself having a difficult time identifying with your peers at grad school, as they are probably enrolled because they have a genuine passion and direction that they are looking to follow. If you are the research type and enjoy learning for learning’s sake, and feel passionate about the field, then these are positive signs. But if you are unsure, think a bit more about it before you make the investment of time and money.
6. Grad school will always make you more marketable.
Not unless you make it so. You make you more marketable, your program doesn’t. If you take the skills you’ve learned in grad school, such as advanced analytical and problem solving skills and the lifelong learning mentality, and continue to develop them, then you will be, in effect, making yourself more marketable. But you have to continue with this and not let your skills become stagnant. And you have to make sure that your investment will pay off and reward you with a job. Do your research first.
What other career myths need debunking? Can you speak from your own experience? We’d love to hear your perspective.