Career Day

Jonathan Clements

YESTERDAY MORNING, I spoke at career day at the Philadelphia school where my daughter teaches. My two fellow panelists were a city planner and a fundraiser for a local ballet company. What did we tell the 11th grade kids? Interestingly, all three of us focused on the same four themes:

  1. You’re unlikely to have a single career. Instead, you’ll switch direction as you discover what you’re good at, the world changes around you and you grow weary of your current job. Those born in 2000 can expect to live until age 86, versus age 47 for those born in 1900. The implication: You’ll have many decades in the workforce and one career likely won’t suffice.
  2. There’s a tradeoff between money income and psychic income. You want work that you’re passionate about, finding challenging, think is important and feel you’re good at. Sometimes, getting that job will mean accepting a lower income.
  3. Employers are swamped with applicants, so they’re looking for quick and easy ways to trim the list of potential employees. Two obvious cutoffs: An applicant didn’t graduate college–and his or her application has grammatical or spelling mistakes.
  4. Identify people in your chosen field and ask for their advice. Most folks are more than happy to help–and that initial meeting may eventually lead to a job.

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