I was first inducted into Golden Key in 1989. I was in my final year of college and preparing to enter the job market. In 2019, I was inducted again into Golden Key after finishing a master’s in education. In those thirty years, I worked in state government, the U.S. Federal government, a couple of consulting firms, four universities, and even ran my own consulting business. I obtained two master’s degrees, an MBA, and a Ph.D. along with nearly 15 professional certifications.
What did I learn in those thirty years?
Careers are Rarely Linear – I started college intending to become an astronomer but decided against that major because I didn’t want to be a college professor (ironic). I double-majored in speech communication and paralegal science. After college, I was a paralegal then went to Washington, D.C., to become a political consultant. I worked in the Federal government, became an I.T. project manager during the dot.com boom. I then became an independent consultant while teaching college part-time. I came back to the Federal government in 2008, where I specialize in training and development.
In my junior year of college, a professor inspired me to become a management consultant. So, even though I had a diverse career path, all the jobs I have had contribute knowledge, skills, and abilities to help me reach my ultimate career goal of building a management consulting firm. Think about where you like to be in your career journey, and don’t be afraid to try different ways to reach your goal.
Always Keep Learning – Cultivate a love for learning. The world is continuously changing, and your skills have a shelf life. Some communication and leadership skills have eternal lessons, such as Aristotle’s 2,000-year persuasion framework of presence, logic, and emotion. Other skills, especially technical skills, will be obsolete in five years. The skill that never ages is the ability to teach yourself. Investing in your self-development is always a smart investment.
Seek Fulfillment – Many of my friends sought jobs and careers because they wanted to please their parents, family, friends, or they thought it was expected of them. As a college professor, I have had students ask me for career advice. When I ask what they think they should do, they often tell me what OTHER people think they should do. I keep pushing until the student finally tells me what THEY want to do. The key is to find what truly motivates you and what fulfills you. External fame and approval don’t get you as far as what internally drives you.
Last Piece of Advice – careers have good times and bad times. Don’t be afraid to take a job to get by but don’t take your eye off your ultimate career goal. You will make it if you keep trying and keep learning. Be flexible and persistent in reaching your goals.