If I had a dime for every time my parents urged me to decide on a profession prior to college, I’d be waaaaaay rich. Their mentality was super simple: decide what you want to be and major in it. And don’t choose History or Political Science or Liberal Arts because in their mind, what in the hell kind of job are you going to get? They were very traditional and linear thinkers.
I dutifully followed their framework and decided I would be a TV/broadcast news journalist when I grew up. I researched colleges that had TV/broadcast news programs and attended one that fit the bill. I spent my 4 years of college priming myself to be a TV news journalist. I logged so many hours in the newsroom and on the road reporting stories that by the time I graduated and started sending out tapes for auditions, I was over it. I no longer wanted to be on The TeeVee. I was burned out after essentially doing it for 4 years.
So, how did I get from that major to building a career that consists of 2 years in management consulting and the last 14 years in a bank? The answer is soft skills.
Sometimes I envy those that have parlayed strengths or natural talents into a real profession such as a doctor, lawyer, accountant, teacher, architect, computer programmer, etc. I have built a career on what we in the biz call “soft skills”. You know…things like communication, conflict resolution, negotiation, personal effectiveness, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, influencing, selling up, etc. etc.
I do not have any true hard skills to speak of. I know a tiny bit about a lot of things but don’t know a lot about any one thing…jack of all trades and master of none. Building a career on soft skills these days and in this kind of economy would be tough. I was lucky that when I graduated, they were handing out jobs to pretty much anyone who could fog a mirror. My daughter tells us that she wants to go to college to study bugs; she enters kindergarten in the fall so we’ll see if it sticks.
Smarties, did you pursue a job related to your college major? Do your children ever talk about “what they want to be when they grow up?”