When I was a teenager, I wrote poetry to relieve the angst of growing up. While writing poetry was very therapeutic, my Dad pointed out that it wouldn’t be a very lucrative career. So I looked into related fields and settled on journalism when I was in my mid-teens.
I worked for the Forest Lake Times, as an intern, then a reporter, and finally an editor. I dreamed of getting a job at a daily paper and I tried. But we were in the midst of a recession and newspapers were shrinking from publishing twice a day to once a day, and the competition for jobs was fierce.
So I went into another “related” field – marketing communications. Today’s young people are in similar situations. My students at the University of Minnesota are panicked about finding a job . . . any job. But I still counsel them to envision their dream job and move on from there. At least if you go for the dream job, you won’t have lifelong regrets that you never tried.
Working a dream job and a money job
Many of the young people I know today are working two jobs: one to make money and another to build skills in their dream profession. My assistant Kate Burnevik is a bar tender by night and a PR professional with LIN PR by day. It’s taken her a while to figure out how to balance the time demands of two jobs and to make her budget work. But she has persevered, and she’s learning skills that will last a lifetime while paying the rent.
My son Nicholas Blanco is 24 years old, and he has listened to my “do what you love” rants for a couple of decades. Today, he’s a captain of a boat in Kodiak, Alaska, spending each day in the wilderness he loves. He tried “working in a cube” in an administrative job for a couple years, and he hated it. Today, he’s over 3,500 miles away, but I’m thrilled that he leaps out of bed looking forward to his day on the water helping lodge guests find their big catch rather than dragging himself to work, where he has to sit all day and listen to people’s disability claims.
How do you figure it out?
There are lots of great resources to help us choose the job we love: vocational tests, the book What Color is Your Parachute?, and scores of web sites. But the best way to choose a career you’re passionate about is to take the time to look within, spend some time journaling about how you love to spend your time. Then brainstorm with family and friends about careers that involve activities you love.
For me, it’s always been writing. And I still love it today. A full-time worker spends an average of 2,000 hours a year working. That means I’ve spent 80,000 hours on my career so far – that’s almost 10 years of 24-hour days.
And I am thankful that I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed at least 95 percent of the time I’ve spent working.