Saturday, April 30, 2011

Life Is What You Make It by Peter Buffett

Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment
Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment by Peter Buffett is a thoughtful book that I thoroughly enjoyed.  If I had a school for helping young adults discover what they wanted to do with their life, this book would be required reading.  Peter offers meaningful anecdotes and wisdom on topics like finding personal values, seeking out your true vocation, learning from mistakes, and defining success.  I personally enjoyed the chapters on vocation and giving back, and the epilogue carried just as much impact (if not more) than the rest of the book.  I'd highly recommend this book for the thoughtful graduate.  It's a medium read - my paperback was a little over 250 pages. 4.5 out of 5

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Now? by Ann Patchett

What now?
What now? by Ann Patchett is written for Graduates of either high school or college.  It's based on a commencement speech she gave at her Ala Mater, Sarah Lawrence College.  My hardcover is a very quick read (I read it on one bus trip home from work).  It has less than 100 pages, including pictures.  I enjoyed the book, particularly the personal stories about baking a particular batch of chocolate-chip cookies and filling in for a dish-washer.  The lessons that she drew from these situations and others show a depth of thought and wisdom that will be relevant to the lives of young adults and graduates.  I'd recommend this book and give it a 4 out of 5

Friday, April 15, 2011

Test Drive A Career!

Have you ever wanted to know what it would 'really' be like to work in your dream job?  Always had a dream to become a veterinarian?  Or a music composer?  Archeologist?  Flight Instructor?  Did you know you can actually take a career for a spin?

Vocation Vacations specializes in arranging 1 to 3 days hands-on career experiences with expert mentors.    They built their company on the belief that every work day should feel like a Friday.   They want to give their clients an opportunity to see what it would be like to get paid for doing what you love rather than doing what you have to do.

While I haven't experienced a vocation vacation yet (I think I'd like to try Composer or Music Producer), I think it would be a great way to get your feet wet and see if you are really cut out for what you 'feel' you want to be.

While you're checking out the blog, don't miss our Career Resources for Graduates and Young Adults page.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Living Life in Reverse - Patrick's story

Patrick decided after finishing college that he would live life in reverse, so to speak.  For 10 years he would travel and experience the world and get that out of his system, and then he'd come back to Canada and work like a dog for 10 years.

In making that decision, Patrick compares it with the analogy of driving.  Good drivers always look some distance ahead down the road so they can see what is coming, not only right close to them, but what is further along.  That way the trip ends up being smoother and you don't make yourself dizzy.  Drivers who focus on the road right in front of the car aren't aware of what is coming further, and as a result, have to make split second emergency decisions to keep from crashing.  That or they get information overload from focusing on so much going by so fast as close as it is.

Patrick felt that the majority of graduates coming out of school were making decisions focused on what was hitting them in the face, rather than thinking about how they will feel about their life 10 or 20 years down the road.

Patrick ended up following his plan.  He was a scuba diving instructor in the tropics around the world in the summers.  In the winters he would work at the ski resorts in Europe.  He kept up this routine right into his early 30's.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Patrick tells two stories.  The first story is of his first trip to Europe.  He was taking a train from Budapest, Hungary, to Prague in what was Czechoslovakia at the time.  A lady in her early 40's was the only other person in his compartment, and he ended up getting into a conversation with her.  It turned out that after she finished college she started traveling and didn't stop for the last 20 years - teaching English or finding odd jobs in the different countries that she had been traveling in.  She told Patrick that her last teaching stint had been in China where she had met a compatriot that she wanted to get more involved with.  This special fellow had already gone back to England and was working.  She was going back there to join him and see if a life-time relationship and perhaps a family would be in the making.  As the train crossed the boarder into Czechoslovakia, the lady abruptly opened her travel back, unpacked a bottle of champagne and two glasses and asked Patrick to join her in a celebration.  "What for?" Patrick queried.  "This is the 100th country I've been in," she replied.  This made a huge impact on Patrick.  She had made a concrete, emphatic decision to travel until she was ready to do something else.  Instead of go along with life and rolling with it's punches, she had taken life 'by the horns' and did what she wanted to do, enjoying it to the full with the resources and opportunities that came her way.

The second story Patrick tells took place after he'd been traveling for 8 years already.  He came back to his hometown in northern BC to work for the summer.  Of course, being back in his home town, he ended up running into friends he grew up with.  Patrick got into a discussion with one and it turned out that since high school this fellow had taken over the family farm, paid it off and become financially very stable. Besides working on the farm, he was doing some equipment hauling for the oil patch.  Looking back on the conversation, Patrick was amazed to realize that this fellow had basically summed up 15 years of his life with 4 words.  'I've been busy working.' 

Patrick says that even still almost all the old friends he's run into - to a person - have said 'oh, I wish I had the opportunity to go traveling.'  Patrick believes that they each had the opportunity when they were younger.  They just never made the choice.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Essential 55

The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child
The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student by Ron Clark is written to a target audience of teachers and parents.  Ron outlines 55 rules that made him a very successful educator (I actually learned about this book by watching a movie based on his life story).  A good number of his rules are applicable to everyone, including high school graduates and young adults.  There are also some great stories in the book about adventures and escapades that he did with his students - excellent material for young adults looking to volunteer with children.  I'd definitely recommend this book for a general readership.  My paperback is almost 200 pages and I found it to be a quick to medium read. 4 out of 5

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Considering Careers with Diversity

Certain careers lend themselves to diverse learning opportunities.  I had no idea of this in high school - hadn't even considered it.  However, after trying several different careers, it seems to me that some have more choices than others.

Me running sheets off of a  Didde Forms web press In Texas
For example, in printing there is definitely choices in how a young adult can specialize.  When I learned how to print, I originally learned on a 'forms' web press.  This kind of press printed off of paper that started on a roll.  It then printed, cut, and folded envelopes and pamphlets on the fly for magazines etc.  Then I got trained on a larger web press that printed the magazines themselves.  Then I learned how to operate a couple sheet-fed presses - rather than starting with a roll of paper, these presses use pre-cut sheets.  Finally I worked for 4 years on a newspaper press that could print a 48 page newspaper with color using 6 rolls of paper at once.  I could have worked on any one of these presses for the rest of my life.  But opportunity arose for me to learn another, and I took it.  However, my experience was limited to the print shop, ink and water, paper and scum, etc. Often we'd print the same jobs (or similar jobs) on a weekly or monthly basis.  There was some diversity and opportunity for learning.

Working in Information Technology has afforded me different, (and I think) more diverse opportunities to learn.  Every company uses IT in some way.  Since I've become a software developer, I've helped support and learned about companies in the following industries:
Hospitality (Hyatt hotels)
Marketing (Critical Mass)
Health Care (Alberta Health)
Fleet and Freight Management (Richer Systems Group & Ryder International)
Financial/Banking (Neteller/Neovia)
Energy - Oil & Gas (Energy Resources Conservation Board)
Law and Litigation - (various law firms)
I'm not just learning and using the software technologies that these firms use, but I also have to learn about their businesses so I can properly build and support their software.

There are other careers in the workplace that afford similar opportunities.  Another example is working in the Police Force.  Sure one can be a cop on the beat, but there are a bunch of specialty fields in policing that could potentially make the job interesting.  Just think about an episode of CSI - there's specialists in studying bugs and their stages to determine how long a body has been dead.  There's specialists in financial forensics, chemical forensics, biological forensics, technology forensics, etc.  There's the canine unit, the SWAT team, the air unit, and more. 

Every business in every industry needs an accountant (or a bunch of them) to deal with revenue, taxes, bills, etc.  A career in accounting can afford a person a lot of opportunities and experiences.  Many accountants eventually work their way up to become CFO's (Chief Financial Officers) or even CEO's.

Another example is working in journalism.  Journalists have to learn about what they write about.  Consequently it can be a very interesting and diverse field if a grad or young adult is a good writer.

Even Lawyers have specialties.  I recently read an article about a lawyer that specialized in law surrounding the international trade of antiquities and archeological artifacts.  Who would've thought?

When young adults are thinking about a career, they should consider which ones afford them the most options.  Or, conversely, if a graduate is passionate about something in particular, he or she shouldn't think that it limits them to only certain career choices.  Putting a passion together with another career can be dynamite.

Don't miss our 'Career Resources for Graduates and Young Adults' page!  It's got a nice collection of links related to careers and direction.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What Are You? What Do You Want? by Mick Ukleja and Robert Lorber

Who Are You? What Do You Want?: Four Questions That Will Change Your Life
Who Are You? What Do You Want?: Four Questions That Will Change Your Life by Mick Ukleja and Robert L Lorber is a relatively quick read around 150 pages.  In it, the authors discuss four questions that will change your life.  While this book isn't specifically targeted to graduates or young adults, I think it's pretty applicable.  They sprinkle interesting stories and examples with statistics and thought provoking exercises that make this book a good option if one is serious looking for answers to these questions.  I'd recommend this book and give it a 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Racquetball Player - Finding Yourself in Your Career

I have a colleague at work who is an avid racquetball player.  She's also very good at what she does in the workplace - facilitating organizational change.  I was flattered the other day when she asked if she could talk something through with me.

She had been presented with a job offer at another company, and she was seriously considering it.  It offered her more stability, more opportunity to advance her career, and potentially more opportunity to travel.  However, the position also potentially required her to hob-knob with big wigs at events and make speeches.  She wasn't entirely comfortable with this.

She found herself questioning whether she should stay working where she is now (safe, comfortable, secure in her position, and happy with the contacts she is making) or move to this new position that would be more challenging, stressful, risky, but also have potentially more prestige and more of a learning opportunity.

She was asking herself great questions.  But which of the positions was a better fit for her personality - who she is on the inside?  I asked her this, and she laughed and told me about something she observed about herself with her racquetball playing.  She's a pretty competitive person, and likes a rip-snortin' racquetball game.  However she noticed that she had been avoiding certain players that she had played with in the past.  When she thought about why she trying not to schedule a game with those people, she realized that they were only there to win.  She didn't have any fun playing with them - they were playing like it was a serious competition.  She wanted to play hard, but she also wanted to enjoy herself and have fun too.

I wondered out loud if she could see herself being able to do that in this new position?  Was it all about climbing the corporate ladder and getting the position, or deep down inside did she want to be able to enjoy the work she was doing?  It's great to take a challenge and learn, but if it wasn't a fit for who she really is as a person, should she really do it?

While you're here, don't miss our 'Career Resources for Graduates and Young Adults' page on the right.  It has several good links to videos, articles, and web sites that you may find beneficial.