I still remember the four principles I was taught in Driver’s Ed. all those many, many years ago. I know they probably teach something different today, but here they are:
- Aim High in Steering – Don’t be one of those people who is looking down at the asphalt directly ahead of them and fails to see what’s happening in the block ahead.
- Get the Big Picture – Be aware of the general traffic pattern; cars that a trying to merge; drivers who are in a hurry; people turning from cross streets.
- Make Sure They See You – Don’t drive for long stretches in other people’s blind spots; make sure they know your intentions
- Leave Yourself an Out – In a 3-lane freeway, don’t pull into the space between the car in lane 1 and the minivan in lane 3; have an escape route if there’s a problem
This list of guiding principles has been useful many times, but took on new meaning last night as I was counseling a recent university graduate on next steps.
- Aim High – It’s time to think about career. In the meantime there may need to be an entry-level position, but being a bagger at the Walmart Supercenter isn’t necessary. At this point, there are some things you can start turning down, but don’t expect a reserved parking space or a corner office anytime soon. Maybe it should read aim higher.
- Get the Big Picture – Know the industry, trade or profession you want to work in. Read its journals. Study its online resources. But also have a handle on the job market in general, and what’s going on in the local community as well as nationally. Learn to be conversant in several employment dialects.
- Make Sure They See You – You’re building a career resumé now, not simply looking for spending money. Start thinking about what that piece of paper will look like five years from now. Make an impression. Have a business card. Start a personal website. Commit to excellence.
- Leave Yourself An Out – At this stage, if the job is a stop-gap measure with little chance of upward mobility, say so. Tell the employer you intend to do good work, and be worth his or her training investment, but that you see the position as temporary. When the moment comes where something better arrives, leave on good terms.