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“Think career-wise, not job-wise”

David Sease of Sease, Gerig & Associates had some great advice for me when I met with him this morning. On my recent journey to meet with and learn from public relations professionals around the city of Indianapolis, I have received insight and words of encouragement from several individuals. One of the things that David mentioned this morning really made me pause – “You have to think career-wise, not job-wise. I can help you with career advice… I can’t help you if it’s just about getting a job.”

My first thought was, “Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to do!” But then after another moment’s consideration I wasn’t so sure. I realized that yes, I have been thinking career-wise – but not as long term as David was suggesting. For a long time, I’ve only been thinking a few years or perhaps even months ahead of time. It was a natural habit to fall into considering my experience of the education system. As a middle schooler, I was taught that high school was when my efforts would be worth something. In high school, I was taught to focus on getting into a good degree program. By getting into a good college, I would then magically end up getting a good job.

What’s the end goal now? As David pointed out, not just to get a job, but to have a career.

I have always been a planner, so thinking about my future comes fairly easily for me. But lately, I’ve lost touch with what my career goals are, long-term. I’m talking a decade from now. What do I want to be doing? Public relations, of some variety. But what variety? What sector? What is my dream job? There are all questions that I’ve found I can’t answer right away. I have gotten so focused on graduation, and what’s going to come immediately after it, that I haven’t stopped lately to ponder what I would like my career to look like. I just know that when college is done, you’re supposed to get a job. Ideally, a job that is relevant to the degree I paid thousands of dollars for.

Of course, I shouldn’t stress myself out by constantly looking too far into the future. I have been known on more than one occasion to express anxiousness about not having my plans for the next semester or my next internship nailed down. During these times, my ever-so-wise girlfriend will take a moment to reassure me that I’m doing well and that I need to live more in the moment. As with everything, it’s all about balance.

What’s important is that I keep grounded and remember the reason why I am earning a Bachelor of Arts in journalism (with a concentration in public relations!) in the first place. I must remember why I am meeting with professionals, networking and asking questions about what it’s like to work in the field. I have to acknowledge that completing five internships isn’t for “just a job” after graduation. It’s for my career, of which I would like to have a long, successful one.

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