Suggestion 5: Walk on water and do windows. Be prepared to do lots of windows – but remember that you get to look into them at the same time.
When I talk with professionals just starting out in a career or in a new aspect of work, they almost always tell me that the work they want to do is what they’re not yet very qualified to do. For example, a new grad with a master’s in public health may tell me that she wants to get a job conducting program research because she took some research courses in her graduate program and really liked them. She may even have worked for a professor and helped out on some of the prof’s research.
When a new grad or someone with just a year or two of experience tells me they are qualified to run a research project or conduct a field study – because they want to apply for a job titled Research Scientist, for example, it reminds me that they haven’t got the full picture of what is really involved in conducting research – at least in public health programs. Eventually, this person will walk on water, but we all do windows much more often in our jobs, no matter what level we are at.
We all want to hire people who are excellent at the work they do – and that holds true for emerging professionals. I don’t expect you to come to a job that is titled “intern” or “assistant” with all the experience that a researcher will have. The advantage you have in taking a job that may seem to be below or less than what you want to do in your career is exposure. It may seem that you’ll be doing windows – more than you wanted or expected – but remember what windows are. They are clear, they let light in, and they let you see onto vistas much wider than you can physically reach.
And that’s why doing windows in a job you may have thought beneath you is worth it. First – you’ll have a job. Second – you’ll learn about that company’s products and services and its culture. Third – you’ll find opportunities in career paths or new skill areas you may never have envisioned for yourself. Fourth – you’ll make more contacts. Fifth – you may find a mentor or colleague who will help you grow. And, if those aren’t enough reasons, remember that you don’t have to stay at that job forever, but, while you do, you will be gaining skills that most of us need to use in our work lives every day that eventually allow us to walk on water.