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It's Not You....It's Me, And Me Says...Work Bites!

Josephine Cardin -- Do fabulous jobs we love actually exist? Should our jobs have meaning? Or is this all a characteristic of recent generations who have been given too many choices?

So, most of us don’t necessarily think of the word “love” when describing our jobs. Some may be so lucky as to say they “like” or “tolerate” their jobs, but many, many people in the world would probably use the ever-so-famous “it’s just a job.” So, do fabulous jobs we love actually exist? Should our jobs have meaning? Or is this all a characteristic of recent generations who have been given too many choices?

Not so long ago people married young, started families, and actually ate dinner together (I mean, besides the Brady Bunch). In present day we’re not as pressured into that life (unless you’re visiting grandma). Now we have endless choices. And a job is no longer just a means of paying bills and college loans. For many, it’s a means to happiness and fulfillment. Students major in dance, art, writing, and even create their own majors (I was hoping to get a Masters in “undecided,” but my advisor strongly urged me against it)... all in search of a career that will bring them a life full of meaning.

Then there are the students who still opt for the more “practical” major that will get them a job and a sweet salary (I’m talking to you, engineering majors!). Either way, I find that more and more young professionals, regardless of what they study, are stumbling from job to job; confused, feeling empty, and searching for a job that won’t just be a J-O-B.

Is it possible? Or is it a fanciful ideal? I know in my own personal experience, regardless of my job, it comes down to having perspective and making the best of what I have. While I believe there are people who love their jobs, there will always be pros and cons to every job. The sooner you can get into that mind frame the sooner you can find your own happiness.

I lived both sides, the “practical” and the “dream” job. I was a dancer and had an opportunity to dance professionally in my late teens and early twenties. Dream job right? Well, not so fast. I’ve also worked the regular ol’ office job, behind a computer all day. And to be totally honest, both can be great and both can be... just a job. As the saying goes, the grass is always greener, right? (Trust me; performing the same show over and over and over again may or may not be as exciting as you think.) As in anything in life there are pros and cons, and what makes for a “dream job” for you is going to depend on what you want out of a job and out of life.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate in finding your own path:

Ta Da! -- DON’T expect your dream job to come to you right after you graduate.

School is not exactly a job -- Don’t feel ashamed to start at the bottom. Four years of school doesn’t equal work experience.

Dear Diary, Work sucks! -- Keep a journal of your work experiences. Knowing what you DON’T like about a job is as important as knowing what you like.

Network! -- You might be fetching files and coffee while dreaming of working for the marketing department. Well don’t dream. Make contacts in that department and ask to assist or even shadow someone for a day.

Will work for experience -- Maybe you dream of being a graphic designer, but you’re working as a clown for children’s birthday parties with nothing to show but a few bruises from kids kicking you in the shin. We-e-e-ell, don’t discount free work. Offer free design services to people/business you know in exchange of being able to use the work in your portfolio. You’ll gain experience, a portfolio of work, and future clients.

I think, therefore I am? -- Make yourself knowledgeable of what you’d like to do. Read industry papers, books, and don’t be afraid to contact people in the field you’d like to go into. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to give advice or informational interviews. You have nothing to lose.

Don’t lose perspective -- Every job has its good and bad days. If you keep focus you’ll eventually get to where you’d like to be. It might just take a few crappy jobs to get there.

© 2008 Office Lingo

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