I recently had the opportunity of guest blogging on Jane-List.com – a wonderful resource and network for military wives. Hope you enjoy the article as well!
Planning for the future and developing a career in today’s economy is a struggle for the average person, but for military wives and their families it can feel near impossible when you add the volatility of schedules, the possibility of deployment or relocations, and of course the unknown.
Odds are your life, to some extent, is in a perpetual state of transition. So how can you find and follow a career path that maximizes your success? The answer is in shaping your own definition of it. Not only is it important to articulate your own concept of what success is, but also what your ideal career might look like for you.
There’s been a lot of debate about what constitutes a “career” lately. Is it the same old notion of a job that you stick with for 20 years? Or is it the time you spend on any one path, or in a particular industry or field? I like to think of a career as the imperfect series of different opportunities and experiences that make up your work life in its entirety. It’s the path you’ve taken to get where you are today. It may have been straight and methodical, or filled with twists and turns – but in the end, it’s your unique path. Own it! Celebrate it. It’s what makes you and your history different and special. To me, your career is about the professional choices you make, the things you learn, the things you accomplish, the lives you affect. Whatever your definition may be, one thing is for sure, one definition does not fit all. Nor should it.
As you continue to build or set out to launch your career, don’t forget that there are many different options open to you to not only work, but do what you love.
When we built the YSN 15 Minute Career Planner, we created something called the Complete Opportunity Spectrum: Experience, Employment and Entrepreneurship. The point we wanted to make was that work is not limited to jobs. There’s a whole spectrum of different experiences that make up your career. Allow me to break it down so you can see just how much opportunity there is for you!
- If you’re just starting out, are looking for a passion project, to establish some great connections, or are looking to gain some experience in a new field without the long term commitment, consider volunteering for a great organization with a cause you can get behind. Not only can you do some good, but volunteering offers an incredible opportunity to show people what you can do and gain credibility in your community. It can also be a ripe training ground to learn about a new industry or skill. Just chose how you spend your time strategically to make it a real win-win experience.
- Another popular route to break into a business that’s tough to land a job in without experience is by interning. Now don’t get turned off too quickly. While internships are typically populated by students and those fresh out of school, people of all ages have been applying for and landing internships in this new economy. Bite the bullet and dazzle hot employers and you may just find yourself with a new job in no time!
- Temporary Placement or “temp work” can be a quick route to make some fast cash, get exposed to a bunch of different companies and test out a few new office environments. While temps are usually replacing someone who’s out sick or on temporary leave, many will tell you that there’s always a possibility of longer term or permanent employment if everyone clicks.
- If you need a more flexible option with a lot more control over your time, projects, clients and even earning potential, consider exploring opportunities as an independent contractor or consultant. These you can find just about anywhere with any company as an alternative to being hired as an employee. It’s often a great way to do a trial too and help the company keep their costs down. You can always use this type of work as a route to launch a more entrepreneurial career doing something you’re great at or love doing. Might as well get paid for it, right?
- Whether you’re considering full time or part time work, don’t think of even traditional employment in a box anymore. Employers everywhere are having to cut down, scale back and reassess how they engage in relationships with staff, so keep an open mind and ask questions about new types of work programs that they might be testing out like flex time, work from home, summer hours, etc.
- Buying an existing business is one of the quickest routes to getting up and running in your own venture and there are plenty of businesses looking for new partners or the option to sell out completely. Just look around your neighborhood for examples. See who’s moving, retiring, struggling, or cutting back. Their transition, loss or hardship could mean big opportunity…for you both! They can get out and move on, and you can move in and ensure the business they worked so hard to build lives and has another chance to thrive.
- If your entrepreneurial fire is heating up and going out on your own is a thrilling, rather than terrifying concept, a startup from scratch may be just the thing for you. Make sure you start with a great idea and solid potential prospect pool, a product or service that’s really compelling, a lot of tenacity, creativity, and hopefully a decent amount of startup capital to get you up and running.
- Franchising, licensing or direct marketing are other great paths to entrepreneurship but with a proven system to follow. As they say in the franchise industry, “it’s like being in business for yourself without being by yourself.” That’s a compelling proposition for a lot of people! And there are thousands and thousands of different types of businesses to choose from – from retail clothing to day care, personal services to hospitality, beauty products to food or beverage vending. The more established the company you partner up with, the more comprehensive their training and branding programs are likely to be. Just be sure to select the company you sign up after a decent amount of research and after interviewing others like you to clearly set your expectations.
- As you can see, building the career path of your dreams is far from impossible when you think about all the different routes you can take to get there. And these are just the different types of work you can do. Your options for what you can do is as limitless as your imagination.