Tips for Kicking Off a Successful and Rewarding Career

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In the spring of 2006, 1.4 million new college graduates flooded into the job market after receiving their diplomas. The good news is that it is the strongest job market we have experienced in five years. The bad news is that many of these graduates were unprepared to begin building their careers successfully.

"Career counselors on campus don't necessarily give graduates the tools they need to build rewarding careers," says Wendy Adams, a career coach. "Some predict that we will have the most unskilled, unprepared workforce in professional history. If the individuals entering into our workforce do not feel personally empowered and equipped for success, both they and the organizations they support will suffer."

Adams, (with co-author and husband Gene Pometto) penned the recently released book, The Coach Compass, Navigation Tools for Career and Life Success. She makes the point that recent grads need to formulate some kind of strategy before embarking on their careers. "Grads should have a detailed career plan in place," says Adams. "While much of the advice for graduates focuses on landing that first job, unfortunately not enough of it focuses on building a satisfying career."

Her book provides sound strategies that could potentially set today's graduates on a rewarding career course by breaking down the career lifecycle into twelve potential positions. It gives abundant examples of how each of these positions can be comfortably navigated in positive, growth-promoting ways, and conversely, how the lack of self-knowledge and motivation when overcoming obstacles may eventually lead to apathy, stagnation and disappointment.

"It is important for recent grads to realize that a job is not a career and should not be viewed as such," says Adams. "A common mistake is that graduates focus too much on the job, while overlooking the essential elements that could lead to a more fulfilling career. Focus on the whole and not just one of the parts. You can really choose how successful you want to be, by clearly defining who you are, what you do, and what you want. It is not what happens to you, it's what you make happen."

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Adams advises graduates to pursue a career that makes the best use of their talents and passions. "As you ponder the next big step in your career, weigh it in terms of how it satisfies you both personally and financially," says Adams. "The most meaningful work is work that allows a person to express his or her authentic self." She offers some suggestions for recent graduates:

* Decide what you want out of your career and draw up a plan "on paper."

* Articulate and map out what you have to offer potential employers.

* Use your personal connections with professors, business associates, and even your parents' friends in order to promote your value and expand your reach.

* Continually emphasize your potential.

To the question "How successful do you want to be?" Adams and Pometto say: "You decide." The future is literally in the hands of our graduating students and it will be up to them to decide where they want to go from here. "While parents, peers, teachers and mentors may have had to opportunity to encourage you to develop to certain preferences, skills and interests, you are ultimately the one that will need to address the barriers that prevent success from happening," says Adams.

By EMSI Coach Compass
This page is updated on May 13, 2013.

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