The career advice I’m glad I got at 30

Image by Nicolas Raymond.

Before I had finished my first year of university, my career “selection” had changed no fewer than three times. I was exposed to courses that I’d never even thought of and concepts that I didn’t even know existed.

Shortly after I graduated, I attended a conference in my area of specialty. There was a specific speaker at the conference I was looking forward to hearing. I had read a number of her articles and was very impressed with her straightforward approach to presenting ideas and concepts.

Do you choose your career, or does your career choose you?

After her presentation, I waited with a number of other conference attendees to meet her and thank her for her presentation. I’m not sure how we got on the topic, but I asked her how she “chose” to do what she was doing (speaking, training and consulting on customer service in the IT sector). Her response surprised me—she said she didn’t choose it. I looked at her, a bit baffled, and she went on to explain.

She said she came upon her current career purely by accident. One day, a client needed someone to provide some training for some employees. The person who was supposed to do the training was away, so they asked her to step in. Both she and her employer quickly found out she was good at it! She started taking on more and more roles in coaching, consulting and training, and her career thrived.

Be open to new possibilities

Her advice to me was to not get too stuck in your “chosen” career path. She said that if she had kept the blinders on about what she thought her career should be, she never would have discovered the new career that she was enjoying.

Networking is a great way to find out about roles you didn’t even know existed. When you meet people, ask them not only who they work for, but what they do. You might just be inspired to change your own career path. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and direction. Find a mentor who can help you understand your options and provide you with input into how to capitalize on those options.

Have you found success on an unexpected career path? Let me know in the comments.

About the author

Pamela Hollington, MBA, is an experienced management consultant and trainer with a strong knowledge of business processes and management issues. She has over 30 years of business experience, including work in the financial, manufacturing, distribution and retail industries, and consulting and volunteer engagements in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Her background includes work in information technology, project management, business analysis, process improvement, and business strategy development and implementation.

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