I laugh to myself when I think back to my early career choices. First, I wanted to grow up to be an archaeologist, then a rock star, and later a psychologist.
At a young age, my brothers and I were set loose in the wilds on Northern Ontario. Being somewhat of a tomboy, it was nothing for me to drag home an animal carcass or loose bones. I once discovered an animal skull in the woods by our weekend farmhouse.
I took it home and scrubbed it with my new toothbrush and some bleach to whiten and clean it.
We later identified it as a baby bear skull. It was undoubtedly the most interesting show-and-tell item at school that year and, at that point, I was certain that I wanted to be an archaeologist.
Later, somewhere in and around eight years old, I developed a keen interest in music. A door-to-door sales representative stopped at our house one night. I was found to have an incredible ear for music and exceptionally long fingers best suited to playing none other than the accordion! Yes, and I played right into the whole sales strategy, knowing in my heart that someday I would go on to be a musical prodigy.
After a month of serious good behavior and chronic begging, my mom and dad caved and signed me up for music lessons. A few months later, they bought me the accordion of my dreams, shiny, black, and beautiful. I’m certain it weighed more than I did and I could barely see over the top of it, but I would never dare complain. Back in the day, this was a huge purchase for my parents, and I continued to take lessons until the eighth grade when I switched to playing piano and then guitar. It was at that point that I realized that I was destined to be a rock star. I just knew it!
By the time I hit my mid-teens, I noticed that people seemed compelled to tell me their private feelings and secrets. I remember wondering why they were telling me this stuff. Maybe it was because I was generally interested in people and what makes them tick. I asked many questions that indirectly forced people to answer their own questions.
I have honed this skill over the years. It’s very effective, yet, at the same time, very annoying for those who are on to me. At this point in my life, though, I began to consider the prospect of becoming a psychologist. To me it seemed to be an obvious fit.
The point to my little digression on “what I wanted to be when I grew up” really comes from an important question that you have to ask yourself as you move forward in business.
Some of you may be doing exactly what you thought you would be when you were eight or nine.
Others of you are probably at the polar opposite end, and many of you are somewhere in between. However, no matter what you are doing, there is one other “role” issue that no one asks about, let alone addresses.
The question, simply, is how do you see yourself fitting into the business world? Are you an employee, employer, or do you bring entrepreneurial skills to your workplace?
A lot of the time, when you are first starting out in the workplace, it comes down to trial and error. You try to be selective about which types of companies you apply to and ask many questions so that you know what you are getting into.
You won’t really know if you have made a good choice, however, until you have the job and have been working there for a while. The influx of new experiences and opportunities, coupled with the challenge of learning to interact with a variety of personalities, from co-workers to colleagues to superiors and even customers, all work together to create the environment of the company. The most important thing for an employee is to gel with a company. He or she needs to fit in, feel challenged, and be able to recognize the corporate migration path available to the most qualified person.