Your Career and You: "Where’s My Gold Star?"

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I went down to Curry College for our annual staff/faculty barbecue and awards ceremony. Always a ton of fun…it’s great to see hard-working, dedicated people getting well-deserved recognition for their contributions to our success.

While gnawing on a very well-done hamburger, I had a chance to chat with a new employee who just a few short years ago was (and still is!) one of my “rising stars.” Filled with ideas; eager to make her mark. And she will. Of that, I am confident.

She made an interesting comment, though (which I will paraphrase), about some of her classmates…young professionals now…that really got me thinking about the challenges we, as educators or mentors or parents or bosses, face in the workplace today.

“A lot of my friends…people I graduated with…are disappointed with where they are [in terms of jobs/job titles, etc.]. They thought they would be directors of programs and doing higher-level work than they actually are.”

You might ask, rightfully so, “How long have they been graduated?”

To which I respond, “Three years.”

Three years…”directors of programs”…

Wow. Expectations…

Now, before you start throwing rocks at me, bear in mind that I’m the guy who worked for the US Army Recruiting Command back when we told young people to “Be all you can be.”

I believe with all my heart in the ability of many of my students at Curry, where I oversee the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, as well as at Regis College, where I teach graduate Communication courses, to become genuine superstars.

Of course they can. They’ve made it this far, haven’t they? They’re doing well in classes. They’re mega-involved in on- and off-campus activities. They’re completing two, three, four internships.

But there’s more to it than this, and, somewhere along the way, someone, somewhere failed to mention it along with the gut-wrenching difficulties of job hunting anyway.

It’s called “earning your stripes” to use some military jargon. Prove to me you know what you’re doing. Show me you’ve got staying power. Make a difference.

If you do all this…in time…you will move up in the ranks. You will be given more responsibility.

But you don’t get a gold star just for showing up.

You have to work for it. You have to earn it.

It’s that simple…and that difficult. It’s called “life.”

“Never were abilities so much below mediocrity so well rewarded; no, not when Caligula’s horse was made Consul.” ~ John Randolph, Speech [February 1, 1828]


About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, Communication, Curry College, internships, job hunting, Regis College. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Your Career and You: "Where’s My Gold Star?"

  1. Good thoughts here, Kirk. One of the seminars I'll be teaching later this summer is titled "Career at a Crossroads," and is geared for helping people to manage their careers in these difficult times. When I ran my own company for so many years, I always wished I could get paid just for showing up — ! — but somehow, people kept insisting on results, doggone it. I've often had to go back to square one in terms of re-starting tasks that I thought I'd left behind as a beginner. In this economy, you have to have a "can do" attitude with no ego attached; you just do whatever it takes, and be glad for the work.


  2. Thanks, Kathy. Fortunately, there are at least as many of these folks who HAVE the "can do" attitude as those who are waiting for the "gold star." I love it when one or another of my former or current students mentions in a conversation a task that he or she took on unasked and made a success of it. Doesn't happen often, but it DOES happen! So there IS hope!


  3. Pingback: Your Career and You: “The Road to Success…It’s an Uphill Climb” | A Professor's Thoughts

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