Tag Archives: employment

Your Career Memoir

Going into the final weeks of my University Studies course, career development gets some well deserved attention. One of the skills a successful student (and student of teaching) must have is intrapersonal intelligence.  For me, it’s the ability dial in your GPS career coordinates in the now.  Then, look back to understand the motivations, people, and circumstances that brought you to this moment. Then use that data to glimpse potential futures.

I’ve had my fair share of juicy plot twists along the way.

I worked for my first employer from ’86 to ’96. In ’93 I had my first son and took three weeks vacation to be home with him and my wife. Result? My old-school boss wrote me up for “lack of dedication” to my job. Human Resources helped my boss understand that the world had changed since he worked for Sterling Cooper.

Lesson learned? Take nothing for granted – not your legal work rights and certainly never assume your employer has your best interests in mind.

In 1996, I cashed in my 401(k), left the only company I ever worked for, and joined the entrepreneur-class. I was a third generation printer; what could go wrong? Eighteen months later, I joined the ranks of the failed business owner. I even sold my car to keep the business alive a few more months.

Lessons learned? One, don’t go into a business just because you think it can make money. I did not like printing but it was all I knew. I probably would have failed in another business though because I also learned…I prefer to work for other people. There! I have outed myself. In this vague period of self-directed and self-employed and completely empowered version of work we see today, I say “no thanks”.

I like being part of a group, I like not having to make all the decisions, and I really like a dependable paycheck!

The rest of the 90’s and early 2000’s were various sales jobs. Good jobs sure, but the limited jobs available to a person with hustle, the ability to wear a tie, and NO COLLEGE degree. So just like in 1992, when I realized how much more career advancement was possible in an office vs a production line, I leveraged my relationships and experience and vaulted onto a new path.

Frogger

My volunteer efforts landed me an interview for a Director of Career Services job with a 9-month certification school.  I was not qualified but got the job anyway (see previous paragraph, re: Hustle). This was six months after earning my English degree. Then I did some calculated jumping, similar to what James Citrin advises in his blog, How to Move From Job to Job.  My goal? To get a job at a degree granting college.

Over the next ten years, I stayed in the same role (Director), in the same field (Career Development) in the same industry (Post Secondary Education). But I learned about the many ways education is delivered. I worked at nationally accredited colleges, market-driven colleges, and a state college. It was not always pretty, but I also was fortunate to serve a similar student cohort everywhere I worked – first generation college students from Inland Southern California.

So, flipping to the last chapter, I gear up to break into a new career in Summer 2014. My gift arrives, just at the top of the story arc, 3 days after Christmas: An interview to teach first year college students full time. I get the job! How? Patient and deliberate (somewhat) planning. It was the culmination of my effort and intentions over the last two decades. It was setting up a SMART goal. It was using the tools at hand.

I wrote, revised, and edited that story for years.  Lots of blank pages left. Time to get to class and write some more.

What’s your career story? Ready to tell it? Better yet, are you ready to live it? If not, today is a great day to start.

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Look Down! You are Standing on Someone’s Shoulders

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I’m in heavy training mode these last two weeks thanks to my full time faculty position with University of Phoenix. I get the pleasure of working with first year students to support their career and academic success. What I am learning is too large to put into a list…but I have dozens of PowerPoints and Word documents at my disposal!

What is clear, from all of these resources and the excellent Wiki page the faculty and staff have put together, is a structure that has been built over decades – and I get to stand on it and say – LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!  Hopefully I will do more than that. My hope is that I will be able to add a wall, or a floor, or even a curtain to a window of this amazing and ever changing structure.

What I see all to often in my professional career are folks who just never look down. Perhaps it is fear, perhaps it is hubris, perhaps just bad training or not enough hugs as a kid, these people forget their history and think they need to destroy or radically alter the city-scape they inherit in order to “leave their mark”.

In short, those people are wrong. We all know these people. We also know that they typically do not last. Their lack of vision and limited growth potential make them poorly equipped to do much useful for an organization. The employees we need to hire, train, value and care about are the ones that know they stand in greatness only because of the greatness of those who came before them. And they understand the obligation to continue that good work.

It is better to be part of something larger that will last for decades. Anyone can bring down those around them to stand tall for a minute, but the quicksand they spread all too far and wide will eventually bring them down as well. In parables from business, religion, history, or politics, our systems work best when built by caring hands who intend to grow what is in front of them and conserve it for the ones who will do the work when they are gone.

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New Job Day #1

Wow, many new and exciting things in this new job. First, I spent last night moving my new home office from my bedroom to a spare room. After looking at the set up required and the number of hours I will be working from this space, it just made sense to move it down the hall. I checked to make sure the equipment work…it did the first time!

Got plenty of sleep, woke up on time to make the “commute” down the hall for the 8 AM start!  I’m part of about 30 other newly hired full time faculty (FTF). So cool to be part of this initiative to better support student success – GPA, completion, retention, graduation. And knowing I will impact local students where this is there best chance to achieve career and academic success is key for me. I want my work to make a difference. I was pleasantly surprised to see community impact listed as a Core Value in my training this AM at University of Phoenix 🙂

All the technology worked well and there was a minimum of background noise…but it is still amazing that folks out there still have not mastered the “mute” button for teleconferencing…I hope I don’t run into these people at a movie.

Our structured day just ended. I’m spending the duration of the day on personalized training, setting up the new class (GEN127) I will start next week, and chatting with my new peer mentors.  It still feels unreal, those first few days are always the best, so I’m going to try and stay in this great moment as long as possible.

More to come!

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Say Thank You

I work in a bureaucracy. That’s a loaded word – myriad pictures cross your mind when you read that word, many < positive. I’m not here to argue the merits. I’m here to share good news – if you work in a big machine like this, the way you get things done is with teamwork – an overused word, true. So is “thank you” but you can’t reach your goals without liberal use of the phrase.

Over the summer I did one of those typical introspections we all subject ourselves to. The take-away – my department had vastly increased our services. What supported that achievement more than anything else? Other people’s efforts. Their support – by giving advice, referrals and stepping in to help where needed – made the difference. So, taking a page from Strengthsfinder®, I looked to our strengths to reach the next level.

At the end of our weekly “Move It Monday” meetings, I ask the team to give me some names. Some weeks, lots of names; other weeks, we might struggle for one. But every week, I write a thank you note to those people. Short and to the point, it thanks them for a specific thing they did. I know I like being thanked; I really liked being thanked for something specific. And that’s what I base my actions on – how would I like to be treated? What do I wish someone would say to me? Then I act and talk accordingly.

It does not matter where you work…if there is more than one employee, odds are you need others to help you succeed. Say Thank You, before and after you reach your goals.

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