Dream careers for a real lifeMay 1st, 2006 | By Bill | Category: Employment News
Q:I became a United States citizen last month. During the 15 years that I have worked in this country, I have earned my living as a home care nursing aide. The time has come when I want to look at other ways to have a career. Do you have any thoughts for me?
A:You may be at the forefront of a big wave of naturalized citizens who as newcomers took any job they could get but now see options that once existed only in their dreams.
Speaking of dreams, a new book, Your Dream Career for Dummies (Dummies.com) by career change consultant Dr. Carol McClelland, could be the perfect guide. ("For Dummies" readers are not dumb. "For Dummies" is a best-selling book series for beginners, written with humor and plain language.)
Dr. McClelland approaches career change from an intensely self-fulfilling perspective.
"Rather than squeeze your personal life in around the edges of a great career, [this book] asks you to start by understanding who you are and what you want at a personal level," Dr. McClelland writes. "Using that information as a foundation, you build a career that enables you to thrive in all areas of your life."
The author believes that the foundation of your next career is built on two key pieces of information:
1. What is your unique style, your true nature? Who are you when left to your own devices without anyone looking over your shoulder?
2. How do you want to live your life? How do you define success? What’s important to you besides work and money?
After a series of steps to help you explore various career ideas, the author urges you to research the fields that most interest you. Dr. McClelland says that you can find lots of data on online discussion boards and blogs.
â€¢ Yahoo Groups (groups.yahoo.com). Find a group by using the search function or scanning under categories of interest.
â€¢ Monster.com (discussion.monster .com/messageboards). Seek profession-specific message boards.
â€¢ Blogarama (blogarama.com). Look at the directory of blog categories. The Business/Professional link lists blogs that comment on particular industries, jobs and companies.
After you gain a basic understanding of your target careers by reading job profiles, exploring industry descriptions, checking out industry chatter and finding relevant professional associations, go up close and personal by setting up informational interviews.
"It’s time to bring a human touch to your exploration," Dr. McClelland advises. "The people who work in your target profession or industry offer current, geographically relevant and personalized information that enriches how you see your target career."
So what do you ask during an informational interview? Here are some basic ones:
â€¢ What is the outlook for this profession?
â€¢ What is your day like?
â€¢ What are your key responsibilities?
â€¢ What are the pros and cons of working in this industry right now?
â€¢ How does this job affect your life?
â€¢ How did you get into this field?
â€¢ Do you know anyone who entered this field with my background?
The message in Your Dream Career for Dummies is not that your best next step is a logical progression from your previous work experience, but rather a move that allows you to express yourself and your passions on a daily basis.
Dr. McClelland cites the transformations of former clients: an accountant who became an archaeologist, a plant nursery employee who now works as an executive chef, an office supervisor who lives life as a message therapist and yoga instructor, a sales manager who works as a minister and a high-tech marketing manager who morphed into a bed-and-breakfast business owner.
Dr. McClelland urges people to "try on a new career" before making giant investments of time or money, noting that it’s important to pay attention each step of the way:
"Your visceral reaction as you step closer to the profession speaks volumes," she says. "Whether it’s love or loathing at first sight, these feelings are likely to become even more intense if you actually decide to work in the field."
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