Your Career and You: "Looking Back to Look Forward"


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As we tiptoe into the final weeks of 2011…a year that definitely has presented a boatload of challenges and opportunities…a few thoughts…

First, on the challenges, not the least of which has been the continuing train wreck that is our economy and its impact on my students’ ability to find a job post-graduation.

Some of them have beat the odds and found positions where they’re using the knowledge and the entry-level (or higher) skills gained through classroom studies and (often) multiple internships. Others are still on the hunt, and I’m doing my dead-level best to cheer and guide them on in the process.

I’m tempted also to say a challenge has been these folks’ “stick-close-to-home” mentality, and I totally that realize I’m not the best person to broach this topic.

Had it not been for a little skirmish known as “The Vietnam War,” I would very likely be winding down a “nice but not challenging” career as a college-level English prof somewhere in my home state of Georgia (“Go Dawgs!).

Didn’t happen that way, though. Spent two years in Saigon teaching “English as a Second Language” to the Vietnamese military, a total of eight years in the Air Force working in audiovisual services and public affairs, seven years as a civilian working in Army public affairs, and the remainder in private sector public relations.

So don’t do as I almost did…widen your horizons in your search for a job.

Today, as I inch closer to that mysterious “retirement age,” I’m teaching what I learned and did for all those years to undergraduate Communication students at Curry College as well as to graduate Organizational and Professional Communication students at Regis College. And, I’m having the time of my life!

And…I’m thinking about the immediate future and what’s next!

Still loads of things to learn and to share with anyone willing to listen. Still a burning desire to accomplish something “worthwhile” that will leave an indelible mark on the PR profession, either as a professional or as an educator.

As Leonard Cohen so aptly described it in his London concert warm-up, I’m “just a kid with a crazy dream.”

So what does this have to do with you and your own burning desire to move onward and upward?

Lots…not the least of which is reflecting on what you have accomplished and seeing what makes you smile on reflection and what you would like to take one more swing at.

This is where “opportunities” come into play…

I had a chat earlier this week with an advisee who had just learned that her application for a full-time position with the PR firm where she’s interning is basically dead in the water due to a recent loss of clients.

We talked for a while, and I asked her where else she had applied (I ask this regularly of my advisees just to keep them focused on the target…a job…with a dozen other “must dos” flitting around them).

Turns out she really hasn’t been doing much outreach; she’s been pinning her hopes on this now-defunct opportunity. But as we talked more, we realized that she had actually made and maintained some pretty solid contacts through her internships and family. Add some of my references…she’s off and running!

And this is the point of all this reminiscing…looking back on what you’ve done and who you know…and moving confidently forward in your job search.

It sometimes seems like your job search has hit a sandbar and is stuck. But when you stop and realize that high tide (aka: “a lead”) will lift you up and off, the future becomes a bit brighter.

So take a moment to look back and reflect on what you’ve done; then look forward to what you’ve made possible!!

“The Future…something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
Clive Stapes Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters” [1941], 25try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-13189095-1”); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {}

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About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 10 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, feedback, internships, job hunting, job search, public relations, Regis College, Undergraduate Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Your Career and You: "Looking Back to Look Forward"

  1. Always appreciate your insights, Kirk. I've also been talking with a lot of advisees, soon to be graduates. Two observations:1. Some of my students have a very optimistic perception of their skill set. One recently applied for a social media position that listed a bunch of platforms I've heard about, but doubt she has.2. Most seem to get the importance of networking, but something holds them back. Last year I required all students in my capstone course to establish themselves on LinkedIn, and to join some groups. In a recent conversation with one student she indicated that LinkedIn wasn't working for her. She joined a bunch of groups, but they keep sending her emails — which she deletes unread. I suggested she might want to read them and offer a comment or two.Let me know when you find whatever it is that so many of us are looking for to transition from the classroom to where ever. I'm also closing on retirement.

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  2. Thanks as always for your feedback, John! It truly is a conundrum…the students have so much potential and so little idea of how to corral and use it!Here's hoping 2012 will bring magical solutions!

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