Your Career and You: “Tomorrow”

Publication1As we close out the old and prepare to ring in the new, the optimistic (to me, at least) song from “Annie” comes to mind.

I firmly believe, as she says so positively, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow…”

This past year has been, even by my own lifelong standard of “chaos is good,” quite a roller-coaster ride.

I almost-but-not-quite closed the door on my most recent (15 years) career path of college professor (a bit more about this later), this after a 15-year run in the public sector (military and civil service) and 20-ish in the private sector (for- and non-profit areas).

Just for the heck of it, here’s a listing of everywhere I’ve worked:

  • US Air Force (active-duty military)
    • English Language School, Saigon, Vietnam
    • Robins AFB, GA
    • English Language School, Saigon, Vietnam
    • Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
    • Langley AFB, VA
    • Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines
    • Langley AFB, VA
  • US Army (civil service)
    • Ft. Monroe, VA
    • Defense Information School, Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN (3 mos)
    • Ft. Monroe, VA
    • Ft. Lewis, WA (3 mos)
    • Ft. Monroe, VA
    • US Army Intelligence School, Ft. Devens, MA
    • Boston District Recruiting Command, Boston, MA
  • Private Sector (civilian life)
    • Honeywell Electro-Optics Division, Lexington, MA
    • Medical Area Service Corporation, Boston, MA
    • Chalfin Kostopoulos & Gilmore (adv’g/pr agency), Boston, MA
    • Blood Bank of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
    • Chaloner Associates, Boston, MA
    • Puritan Lawn Memorial Park, Peabody, MA
    • Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, Boston, MA
  • Academia
    • Emerson College, Boston, MA
    • Bridgewater State College (now-University), Bridgewater, MA
    • Stonehill College, Easton, MA
    • Regis College, Weston, MA
    • Curry College, Milton, MA
  • Next…???

As many of you are already well aware, my wife Margaret and I have packed up our belongings (again) and set out on what we think will be our last major relocation (nine “permanent” and four or five temporary counting this one).

The good thing about every single one of these life-changes has been that, for both of us, the result has been positive. Great jobs. Good friends. New life experiences. Things that, when we sit down occasionally to look through the bazillion photo albums that we’ve accumulated over the years, always have us smiling and happily recounting someone or something that made the adventure memorable.

And so here we are today…settled into, for the first time in our 45-plus years of marriage, our own new home in a new community in a new state adjusting to a new way of life as retired professionals.

Of course I have no intention of shutting down completely. With any luck, I’ll be able to pinch-hit as a part-time professor at one of the colleges in the area. And I’ve already managed to get myself involved with the local (Tampa Bay) PRSA chapter and will be working with both current students as well as recently-graduated young professionals to help them chart their own courses for the future.

That’s the beauty of it…there’s always tomorrow and yet another new challenge or opportunity or both. It’s what keeps me charging and energized.

As British poet John Masefield said so beautifully in “Tomorrow”…
“And many a broken heart is here and many a broken head;
But tomorrow,
By the living God, we’ll try the game again!”

And that’s the secret, my friends…an unwavering belief that, if you believe in yourself and your ability to succeed and to survive, the sun will come out tomorrow.

Posted in Action, careers, Curry College, Education, Inspiration, job hunting, job search, Planning, pleasure, PR, PRSA, PRSA Tampa Bay, public relations, Public Relations Society of America, Time management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Career and You: “Networking…Promote Yourself”

Publication1I talk about this a lot…now I’m turning my words into action.

I did my best to demonstrate the value of networking to my students at Curry College, where, until mid-2017, I headed the Communication Department’s Public Relations Concentration and taught most of the undergrad PR courses.

Not only did I introduce them to anyone with whom I had lunch in the Student Center; I encouraged them to go to meetings of the Boston Chapter, Public Relations Society of America, and Publicity Club of New England. And the Curry College Public Relations Student Association‘s regular programming brought top-tier PR professionals onto campus to share their knowledge, experience, and advice.

These efforts seem to have worked as my “troops” (as I like to call them) have gone on to complete multiple internships and secure really cool entry-level PR positions based entirely on the contacts they made at these events.

And now the tables have turned. I’ve retired and moved permanently to a brand-new home near Tampa, Florida (the only time I had been to Tampa before this was when I was somewhere in the vicinity of eight years old!).

New home. New community. New stage in my own professional life. Starting basically from Square One!!

So what do you do in a situation like this? One word. “Network.”

I have now attended meetings of the Tampa Bay Chapter, PRSA, as well as the Tampa Bay Chapter, Florida Public Relations Association. I’ve already joined one committee with the PRSA chapter and am exploring ways in which I can do the same with FPRA.

You might well ask, “Kirk, why? You’re retired. Why are you looking for ways to keep busy?”

Simple-ish answer. “I’m simply not wired to just shut down and sit on my patio watching the ducks swim by.”

And…I think…I still have some things of value to offer others…especially students who are interested in public relations as a career and young professionals looking for advice on the next step(s) in their budding careers.

So what do you do when you’re starting all over yourself? You network.

You put yourself in front of as many people in as many different settings as possible. You shake hands. You pass out business cards. You schedule lunch/coffee meetings with those who you feel might be able to help you get established in your new community. You get your name “out there.”

It’s labor-intensive, though. You have to work to meet others, “sell” yourself and your knowledge/skill base, and connect.

But, in the end, it’s worth the effort. If you’re looking to make a job transition (as I was when we moved to Hawaii way back when) or simply maintain your professional connections, you have to have others’ help. And they’re not going to know what you need unless you tell them.

So do as I say, and do as I do. Get up out of the comfort of your chair and put your face…and the rest of you!…in front of your target audience.

As a good friend always likes to say when I say “Good to see you.”… “It’s good to be seen.”

Get out there. Network. Promote yourself!

Posted in Action, careers, CCPRSA, Communication, Curry College, Curry College PR Student Association, Curry College Public Relations Student Association, FPRA Tampa Bay, internships, job hunting, job search, networking, Planning, PR, PR students, professional organizations, PRSA, PRSA Boston, PRSA Tampa Bay, PRSSA, public relations, Undergraduate Communication | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Your Career and You: “Finding Inspiration”

Publication1I’ve been in something of a creative slump these past few months. Lots of stuff going on, but no “spark”…no inspirational jumpstart.

Part of the problem lies in my still-developing “retirement” mode. While I’ve merrily embraced the “sleep in until 8:30 in the morning” part of the deal, I’m floundering when it comes to the “…and then what” part.

To put it as simply as possible, my brain is still operating in overdrive, but the rest of me is just kind of moseying along like the opening scene from the “Andy Griffith Show” where Andy and Opie are walking along on their way to their favorite fishin’ hole just enjoying life as it comes their way.

This mini-quandary is something I tried for more than a decade to help my students at Curry College, where I headed up the Public Relations Concentration and taught most of the undergrad PR course, come to grips with as well.

Seems like I was forever yammering about this or that experience at some point in my past lives as a public sector (active-duty military and civil service) and private sector (high-tech, member services, healthcare, agency) PR professional that inspired me to do “X,” “Y,” or “Z.”

The idea was that I wanted to demonstrate to them how one manages to keep that spark of enthusiasm glowing and, in the process, become inspired to do something.

As I look back over the years, I think I succeeded in many cases. My “disciples” are doing amazing things in public relations, in healthcare, in financial services…you pick the area, they’re excelling at what they’re doing. They’ve found career fields that ring all the right bells for them and, in so doing, are inspired to attempt and to achieve great things.

Which brings me back to “me” and my own “what’s next?” quandary.Mind you, I’m not planning on losing any sleep over this (reference paragraph 2 above), but it does beg the question, “Where’s the inspiration?”

There’s not an immediate and easy answer to this, but I think I’m starting to work it out. I’m reconstructing my professional network with new contacts here in the Tampa area. I’m renewing online conversations with current and newly-developed contacts. And I’m starting to write again…trying to get back into the familiar creative “groove.”

With each step forward, I’m finding things that pique my interest, that cause me to do some online research to find out more.

See? That’s the thing. “Inspiration” doesn’t just hang around waiting for the right moment to step out of the shadows. You have to be willing and ready to act when you sense its presence. Are you willing to be inspired?

Posted in Action, careers, Curry College, Inspiration, networking, Planning, pleasure, public relations, Time management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Your Career and You: “Happiness is…”

Publication1One thing I’ve noticed over the years is the amazing ability of people to find fault with just about any- and everything. No matter what…there’s something wrong with it.

I’m sorry. I don’t have time for that. Life’s too short to nitpick.

Yeah…I’ve had crappy days filled to the brim with equally crappy experiences. We’ve all had a few of those. But they’re finite. They have a beginning and an end. Life might suck royally in between, but it was and will be better. Just hold onto that thought.

What got me off on this sleighride was a series of interactions and incidents over the past several days…good things that served to reinforce my belief in “good.”

First off were two Facebook chats with former Curry College COM students…one who, unfortunately, is hellbent on building a broadcast journalism career; the other, a PR Concentration rockstar who is destined for greatness…who wanted to share with me their latest endeavors. The excitement in their eyes spoke volumes.

The next day, my wife and I welcomed our first guest to our new home. We had never owned a home until now, even though Margaret has always wanted one but has never been able to realize that dream. The “dream” is now a fabulous reality!

Then, just this week, I had two MORE occasions to celebrate friends’ successes. The first was that of a good friend/former student (PR Concentration, of course!) who excitedly texted me to say that she had JUST been offered and had accepted a full-time Assistant Account Executive position with a major PR firm’s Boston office. I immediately called her, of course, to congratulate her in real time. The sheer joy in her voice nearly brought me to tears.

Finally, just last night, a long-time very good friend/PR professional was honored by the Boston Chapter, Public Relations Society of America, with its lifetime achievement award recognizing her contributions to the profession. Although I was not able to congratulate her in person, I think I managed to get a note on every social media platform within my reach.

What’s this all about?

Simply this. It’s easy to get yourself in the mindset that nothing good is happening…just watch the evening news. If you’re not already ready to dive off the ledge, our local newscasters will gladly give you a “helpful” nudge.

Instead, focus on the good things that are happening to others around you. Let their joy become your joy. As Khalil Gibran says so beautifully in “The Prophet”: “For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

Let your heart be refreshed. After all, happiness is…where you find it. So seek joy out!

Posted in Communication, Curry College, Inspiration, PR students, PRSA Boston, public relations, Public Relations Society of America, social media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Career and You: “We Do Things for a Reason”

Publication1There have been a few moments recently when I’ve retreated into my comfortably dark cave muttering all kinds of unprintable things. Most of them start with “Why the Hell…” and then wander off down various thorny paths.

As much as I would like to believe my life is “together,” there have been, throughout that “life,” a host of challenges that have given me cause to question (a) my sanity and (b) my ability to do anything right.

Fortunately, each instance has resolved itself in one way or another…not always the way I would have preferred, but at least there has been a resolution.

And each resolution has reminded me of one simple fact…we do things for a reason.

I’m not sure if I actually managed to convey this revelation to any of my students at Curry College, where I headed the Public Relations Concentration until recently and taught most of the undergrad PR courses.

I tried to set a good example for one and all as a reasonably successful public relations professional, but I may not have covered all of the “finer points” of that great mystery called “life.”

For me, it all started when I called a friend in the personnel office at the Air Force base where I was stationed after returning from a tour of duty in Vietnam. My instructions to him were, in a nutshell, “Bring the paperwork. I’m going back to Vietnam.”

He knew me well enough to know that I was serious, so, after an hour’s lunch, I went back to my office to inform my boss that I was returning to Vietnam…in three weeks.

He, too, knew the backstory, so he reluctantly congratulated me and wished me the best.

Why was I determined to go back to a war zone?? As I say so often, “Simple-ish.”

During my first tour as an English Language Instructor based in Saigon and teaching “English as a Second Language” to Vietnamese military personnel, I had (much to my, and the majority of my friends who knew me well, surprise) met, fallen in love with, and vowed to marry a young woman who was assistant manager of the hotel where we instructors were billeted.

The “normal” way of thinking back then was “Why would anyone in his right mind go back to a place where bombs were falling out of the sky and things were blowing up in the streets?”

But I had a reason. And, to put it all in some sort of perspective, Margaret and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary this year…on the exact day that we moved out of our home of 22 years in Massachusetts and began our permanent relocation to Florida.

And…yes…we had a reason for that. We both are retired. We had been in Massachusetts off and on for more 30 years. And, to put it politely, winters in Massachusetts suck!!

So I’m sitting here today in my new home in Riverview, Florida, at the end of October with crystal-clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-60s. I’m free to do what I want when I want.

It’s not perfect, but I remind myself, when things get a little wobbly, that change is good, and I was (we were) more than due for a positive change.

More important, I remind myself that, throughout my personal and my professional lives, I have done a lot of seemingly unusual or irrational things that, in the end, resulted in something very positive because, at the beginning, there was a reason.

Posted in Action, careers, Curry College, Planning, PR, PR students, public relations, Thinking | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Career and You: “What’s ‘Old’ Is New Again”

Publication1I’ve been off the grid…other than snarky remarks about certain service providers on Twitter and Facebook…and a few food photos (big surprise!)…for the past several weeks. While I seriously doubt anyone has actually missed me during my absence, I’m happy to report “I’m ba-ack!”

In a nutshell, over the past three-ish months, I’ve packed something closing in on 50 years of life as a working professional into a bunch of boxes…retired…and moved to Florida.

Arrivederci, New England winters. Bon jour, year-round tropical climate!

Yeah, it has been…is…something of an adjustment. All of a sudden, I don’t have to be somewhere to do something. I find myself automatically checking my phone for reminders of meetings that I no longer have to attend. My calendar, other than one or two monthly conference calls for PRSA-affiliated committees that I’m on, is blank.

It’s a somewhat unsettling feeling, but I’m adapting…slowly.

I do miss the energizing interactions with my students at Curry College, where I headed up the Public Relations Concentration in our Communication Department and taught most of the undergrad PR courses. As I’ve said so often, “I’m a vampire. I need fresh blood!” Thankfully, I have social media to maintain at least some form of contact, and I hope my friends will continue to connect with me at least for a while. We’ll see!

The “new” part of this current state-of-affairs lies in the fact that I will have to establish a new network of professional connections as well as (local) personal friends. We were in Boston this past stint for 22 years after having lived in Hawaii for three years after having moved from Boston where we had lived for 14 years!

If you do the math, that’s 36 years in Boston with a solid network of professional and personal friends to whom I could turn for advice, reassurance that I wasn’t completely insane in what I was doing, and just good ol’ down home company.

On a professional level, I joined the Public Relations Society of America in 1981. Got involved immediately on committees. And have continued to contribute in as many ways as possible ever since, including serving on local, regional, and national boards of directors.

So here we are in Florida, starting literally from “Ground Zero” with a clean, shiny blank slate sitting in front of me.

Just got my PRSA membership renewal form which prompted me to reach out to the PRSA Tampa Bay chapter for membership information. Looking forward to attending an upcoming meeting and starting the development of a new network of colleagues and friends.

Next, I will reach out to folks in higher ed here in the Tampa area. I’d love to pick up some part-time teaching gigs at one or more of the colleges and universities here. I think I still have some relevant knowledge and experience that I can share with young men and women interested in exploring public relations as a profession.

So there you have it. The circle of life has brought me back to where I have been a dozen or more times…and what’s “old” is once again “new” again.

As poet John Masefield says so beautifully in “Tomorrow”…
“But tomorrow, By the living God, we’ll try the game again!”

Posted in Action, careers, Communication, Curry College, Inspiration, job hunting, job search, networking, Planning, PR, PR students, professional organizations, PRSA, PRSA Boston, public relations, Public Relations Society of America, social media, Thinking, Undergraduate Communication | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Your Career and You: “What IS Satisfaction?”

Publication1I write a lot…probably too much…about “loving your job” and “following your passion.”

I do this for one relatively simple reason. For what seems like the better half of the past 50 years of my life, people…working professionals as well as young soon-to-be professionals (aka: “students”)…have been asking me for some sort of definition of “success.”

I have heard any number of responses from others over the years, ranging from “you’re successful if you’re making a lot of money” to “success is when you have a big office in a big company.”

There’s probably some merit in each of these definitions, and I certainly have never encouraged my students at Curry College, where, until recently, I oversaw the Public Relations Concentration in our Communication Department, to actively seek out poverty and a closet-sized office.

But success is sooo much more than posh trappings of office and bushels of money being dumped in your lap each payday.

Throughout my own professional career, both as a PR practitioner and as a PR professor, I have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with people from all levels of the working world. Yes, a few of them are, as I term it, “gazillionaires.” Others are living paycheck-to-paycheck. And in each scenario, I have met someone who goes about every single day with a smile on his face because he is doing exactly what he wants to be doing.

Although the Rolling Stones declared quite successfully that “I can’t get no satisfaction,” I respectfully disagree.

You can, but doing so requires that you do a really thorough “Who am I? What do I want out of life?” self-analysis.

Not to get slightly morbid here, but a saying I heard one time a loooong time ago sticks with me: “What do you want your obituary to say about you?”

Short-ish, and to the point. If someone is going to recap your life and your contributions to others’ lives, what do you want him or her to say? Then ask yourself, “How am I going to accomplish that?”

It doesn’t matter where you are in your professional/personal existence…just starting out, mid-way and building momentum, or in the final stages…you can start or add to the final description.

Don’t try to do it alone, though. You need input from others with whom you interact. It’s called “networking,” and my students have heard me preaching this sermon just about every day in every class.

Why ask others? Because you’re too close to the subject…you can’t see the forest because all the trees are crowded all around you. And you’re prejudiced…after all, it’s you you’re talking about…and you’ve known yourself your entire life!

But most important, ask yourself, “What is it that, when I do it, I spend the next three days grinning like an idiot because the simple act of doing it made me feel so good?”

Odds are, whatever that “it” was, it’s something you love doing…it’s something you do well…it’s something you’re passionate about.

Then you do what someone I admire immensely…my step-brother Jimmy Towson…did. You sit down with those who are most important to you, you have a very serious talk, and you make the changes necessary for you to accomplish your goal.

The end result? You will have answered the question: “What IS satisfaction?”

Posted in Action, careers, Communication, Critical Thinking, Curry College, Evaluation, Inspiration, networking, Planning, pleasure, PR, PR students, public relations, Thinking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments