Growing up, we would always fantasize about what our future careers might be. We would look up to our role models whether it be family, older friends, or maybe even people we saw in magazines or on television. Some children had a clear vision when they’re young, and stick to it as they get older. Others take more time.
As you’re entering the homestretch for high school graduation, you’re bombarded by everyone you know with “do you know where you’re going to college?”, “are you furthering your education?”, or “what do you want to be when you’re older?”… if you were ever unsure about what to answer to the onslaught of these questions, you may have just given a vague or broad answer to quench their curiosity.
Going into college, I was unsure about my future endeavors, so I decided to study natural sciences, because that has always held my interest. Luckily for me, that area of study never bored me so I stuck with it until graduation. Now, just because I walked across stage doesn’t mean I am sure about my exact career path. I know there are many folks just like me.
During my summers through college, I did my best to figure that out. The gap between semesters offers a great variety of entry level gigs for high school, and college students. They were often classified as “seasonal or temporary employment”. Essentially it’s an opportunity where you’re hired for the position, but you already know your end date. This was my introduction to this type of work, and quite honestly, I fell in love with it.
After finishing my formal education, I didn’t have much interest in throwing myself right into a career. I just wasn’t ready. Instead, I wanted to continue working on a “temporary” basis. Some people may view this as a lack of commitment towards a single employer, I look at is as a sampler pack of the different occupations of the world. I soon discovered that these temporary/seasonal positions occur throughout the year, so I could make it a “full-time” gig in a way.
Of course, these positions allow you to return for the next season if you’re interested, and only if you did a good enough job the first time around. However, there is obviously no obligation for doing more than one stint with that organization. I’ll say up front that I have never returned to a previous employer for a second season. It’s not because I didn’t appreciate or enjoy my time there, because that would be completely inaccurate. Some of the positions I’ve held have been so absolutely incredible that I wouldn’t trade for anything. One reason for not returning is simply because it doesn’t fit into my one year plan.
With this mindset, I give my everything (110%) for each and every position that I apply. If I never return to that place (for whichever reason), I want to ensure that I do it right the first time around. My goal is always to be the best I can be for my employer as well as for my coworkers. Life is too short to do put forth a mediocre effort. I was talking to a gentleman who has hired hundreds of people, and he said “I always hire for attitude, not skill. I can easily teach you the skill of the position, but it’s much harder to change your attitude”.
Networking helps too. If you’re constantly doing your best, your efforts won’t go unnoticed. Word will spread, and people will find you work. Happens to me all the time, and for that, I’m forever grateful.
In the past 8 years, I have not held a position for more than one year’s time, with each position averaging between 3-5 months. This isn’t a point of pride or a streak I’m working on. It’s because unlike some folks, I haven’t found my life purpose as of yet so I just continue my search. I’ve noticed that with such short periods of time, it provides me with the opportunity to learn the trade, and maybe even excel at it. My contract end date typically arrives before the “honeymoon” phase is complete, or alternatively at the perfect time when I want to move on anyways. Like I mentioned before, these positions act as samples of possible career paths that I may want to commit indefinitely.
I’m always trying to diversify the types of work I apply for. Not only do I want to gain more experience in things I’m not familiar with, but I try to do them in regions I have never been. How would I have known that I would enjoy teaching children, roofing, being a kitchen hand, building trails, working in a hostel, etcetera, if I never actually put myself into that role nor would I have seen the places I’ve been to.
This world has so much to offer, so many opportunities, and places to choose from. I wonder sometimes “what will my career be?”, “what area of the world will I live out my life?”.. Then I revert back to what my younger self once did when questioned, but instead of replying to others, I tell myself something vague just so I stop questioning my actions.
Is avoiding these questions healthy? Is temporary/seasonal jobs for the longterm, sustainable? Is this lifestyle reducing the amount of potential opportunities in my future?
Well, I’ll start off by saying that my Mother was right. Classic Moms. She warned me that continuing to involve myself in these short term jobs would hurt my chances with future employers because my resume essentially screams “this guy doesn’t stick around”. I have never really felt the effects of this until I started applying for jobs without a set end date, and as you may have already predicted, I don’t end up working for said company in most of these cases. After all, it does make sense. Why would a company who is offering a long term opportunity invest time, and energy into someone who may just be passing through?
Over time, I have acquired the mindset “If they don’t want me, someone else will”. This goes for more than applying for jobs. Yes, I bounce from job to job. Yes, I do work in multiple fields. Yes, I have experience in a lot of things, but not and expert in any one thing. Are these positive or negative attributes about myself? I’ll let you or the next employer decide.
There is something that I do know for sure. You have to be adaptable, and willing to learn new things, get out of your comfort zone, and just plain grow in order to live an ever changing lifestyle. It can be hard, it can be tiring, it can be a lot of things including rewarding. Easily my favorite part of it all, job or no job, is the people. I can say that I’m privileged to have met so many absolutely incredible, and generous people along the way through so many walks of life, ranging from homeless to financially wealthy.
Whoever you are, whatever you do, no matter if you have a job or not.. your effect on others is really the only thing you can leave this world after you die.
Maybe sometimes we should go back to the basics.
Maybe we should ask ourselves, are we giving back? Paying it forward? Helping out?
Or are we the only ones benefiting from our actions?
Maybe when I was younger I misunderstood the question.
Maybe when asked “what do you want to do when you grow up?”, I could have responded:
“When I grow up, I want to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of others”.
I can even make my Mom happy by doing so, because you better believe I’ll be working full-time at it!
Let’s make a difference.
I believe we can do it 🙂
– Jacob Pearson