I made a big career change recently and received quite a few emails asking how & why I did it. I also get a regular flow of inquiries from people new to the health/tech field who ask how I navigated my path up to this point.
First of all, pretty much everyone tells a good story in retrospect, including me. So take other people’s career advice for what it is: highly subjective interpretations of personal history.
But, in case it’s useful, here’s the advice I share with people who ask:
1) Every day is a job interview.
Do your best on every task you take on, whether it is for pay or not. Some of the breaks I’ve received (or given) came about thanks to volunteering within my community, both online and offline. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it): If every day is a job interview, you must treat everyone with respect. That intern may be on your hiring committee some day and she’ll remember how you made her feel, for good or for ill, 10 years prior.
- Related: Peter Shankman on how preparation for a 10-minute meeting is a sign of respect.
2) Do the work that you see needs to be done, even if it’s not in your job description.
Roni Zeiger offered this as a refinement to “every day is a job interview” — that is, not only do you never know who is watching (so do your best) but also be mission-driven. Do the job you want to do and, if you’re lucky, people will recognize it and encourage you — even hire you! — to continue.
For example, I started blogging and using Twitter to amplify my research findings years before the Pew Research Center recognized the potential of those tools. To me, it was the work that needed to be done: connecting the dots, breaking our findings down into bite-size pieces, introducing data into the public conversation. Kudos to Lee Rainie, who encouraged me to rewrite my job description to account for the time I spent on it.
- Related: Andrew Simonet on making your life as an artist (key quote on this topic: “Your career is not your work; your career supports your work.”)
- Related: Fred Wilson on how to get lucky.
3) Have a 5-year goal in mind.
It can be unrealistic! But it’s a compass point. When opportunities arise, you can better recognize whether this choice is getting you closer to your goal or further away.
- Related: Vic Strecher on how having a life purpose can help you focus.
4) Work with people you want to learn from.
They might be above you, beside you, or below you on the org chart. Don’t compromise on this. My colleagues have always been a huge reason for my success and happiness on projects.
5) Find your pit crew.
Look for people who share your interests, goals, purpose. Form a study group about the work you all do. Trade ideas and tips, encourage each other, review each other’s cover letters, contracts, etc. My peer mentors (most of whom live 500+ miles away and with whom I have never formally worked) are my main support system and the reason I can feel confident about making bold choices in my career.
- Related: Seth Godin on finding your peer group.
6) Join and serve your communities.
You may find it useful to check out conferences, meet-ups, blogs, LinkedIn groups, and other places where communities form around the topics you care about. Join in the conversation. Reply to people whose ideas intrigue you. I find that the best connections happen when I participate in the public conversation. But don’t be greedy — give as much as you get. Promote other people’s ideas as often as you promote your own.
- Related: #17 of Mike Nelson’s career nuggets: “Learning is a lot more fun—and a lot more effective—when it’s social.”
7) Don’t leave before you leave.
Yes, that’s a Sheryl Sandberg quote, from her TED talk and her book, Lean In. It applies to the choices you make about family planning (i.e., don’t turn down responsibilities in anticipation of some day taking time off to care for a child) but I think it applies more generally, too. People who are in “exit mode,” who are anticipating the day they give notice, telegraph that they don’t care about the work they are doing. Not smart. Take advantage of every day, even if that means taking copious, specific notes about what is wrong about your current job so you can recognize and avoid similar situations in the future.
What are your career maxims? How about some war stories? When people ask you for advice, what do you say? Please share in the comments.
Rajiv Mehta says
Whenever I’m asked this question (more often the question is more along the lines of “How did you get deeply involved in so many different things over your career?”), is that you’ve got to love what you are doing at the moment, be passionate about making a difference and be really curious. After all, other than sleeping, your job is what you’re doing most of your life. If it’s not giving you satisfaction, it can be really miserable. Of course, this is not quite realistic. One doesn’t usually have a smorgasbord of lovable jobs to choose from. So more practically, the advise is to try to find something(s) in your job that you can get curious and passionate about, something that will allow your creativity and talent to shine, and hopefully to be seen by others such that it will help lead you to even more interesting opportunities.
While my above advice is more in-the-moment, for the longer term, I love the thoughtful approach recommended by the folks at 80000hours.org — they note that if you’re hoping to have a huge impact in the world, you may have far more success by taking jobs that allow you to build up the capital (financial, social, intellectual, … capital) you need to make that impact, rather than aiming directly.
Of course, after this blog post, my first piece of advice is going to be that people heed Susannah’s Seven Slogans!
Susannah Fox says
Yes! Curiosity and passion (plus capital) are key words I endorse.
I hope this post does become a useful resource — Seven Slogans are just the start!
Sally Okun says
These are great pearls of wisdom!
I have two thoughts that my father shared with me just a few months before he died unexpectedly at the too young age of 45. I was a new nurse, only a year into my career at the time. Yet nearly 40 years later I recall the moment clearly. He said, “Sally Anne, make a difference and keep imagining the endless possibilities to do so.”
His advice guided me through so many of my yesterdays, it continues to influence and shape my todays and it sets the stage for the endless possibilities of my tomorrows.
Sally Anne Okun (he’s the only person who ever called me by my given name)
Susannah Fox says
Beautiful, Sally, thank you.
Encouraging words from a parent, teacher, or boss are golden. I remember the moment my dad told me to aim high.
Fard Johnmar says
Great post here. And, thanks for the invite to comment on this fantastic advice.
What do I say to people when they ask me for career advice? One word: persevere.
Why? Because no matter what you do or where you come from, there will be a lot of things you do that either don’t ever work, or take a long time to come to fruition.
People always talk about how you have to do what you love, but love’s greatest test comes during those times when things aren’t going your way. You’re going to feel worthless, you’re going to feel beaten up. But, if you actually enjoy what you do and it aligns with your internal goals, worldview and aspirations, you’re going to do a much better job of rolling with the punches.
Of course, many people hold jobs that they’re not particularly fond of, or due to the sluggish global economy, are locked into. Does this advice still apply? Yes, because the act of getting up everyday and giving your all to a job that’s not ideal is an act of perseverance in of itself.
This advice may sound grim to some, but I view it in a very positive light. To persevere in the face of adversity is an act of great courage and can lead to a more balanced and happy life.
Perseverance. It’s necessary and well worth it.
Susannah Fox says
Persevere! Another awesome key word. Thanks, Fard!
Roni Zeiger says
I will be pointing lots of people to this post when they ask me for career advice! I think the world would be a better place if everyone tried to work at the intersection of their passions and their skill set. That’s my formula for maximizing impact and personal satisfaction (which gives you ongoing juice to create more impact over time).
Sometimes I take a step back and notice that this is essentially the first time in history that many people can CHOOSE what they do for a living. What a privilege! It’s also a responsibility, not in the sense that each of us must dedicate our life to “service”, but that we should strive to make the best use of our passions and skills.
Susannah Fox says
Recognizing what drives you (passion) is a tall order for some people starting out in their careers. Personally, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do throughout my 20s and I am upfront about that when I talk with younger colleagues. I had 3 jobs before I figured out what drives me, what my mission is! And yes, it’s a huge privilege to be able to now pursue it.
Vic Strecher’s book, On Purpose, discusses a range of missions, such as how one man’s purpose is to ensure a clean and pleasant environment for kids to learn in — he’s a school janitor. Or someone’s money-earning job might not be part of their purpose, such as when your purpose is to provide a safe and secure home for your children.
Maxine Eichner says
Susannah, I agree that this is great advice. I’d add a few things to your list. I have two codicils to your second piece of advice (Do the work that you see needs to be done, even if it’s not in your job description.): The first is that, when you do what needs to be done, don’t worry too much about credit claiming. Over time, people come to know who’s doing the real and good work, and they appreciate someone who gets the job done without asking for acclimation Second, as you move through your life, keep your eyes open. Eventually, you will see an opportunity to make a real contribution. When you see that opportunity, grab it.
And I have one codicil to your seventh piece of advice (Don’t leave before you leave.), which is that, when you do leave, leave! Every one needs time off, and other things in their life beyond work, whether that’s family, good friends, climbing a mountain, or reading a good (or cheesy) book. Make time for those things, not just because they’ll make you a better worker when you’re at work, but because they’ll make you a happier, more fulfilled person.
Susannah Fox says
Max, I love your codicils! And now I’m going to try to use the word codicil in a sentence each of the next three days to cement it in my vocabulary.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE says
Such a great post and comments!
For me, always important to be in a place where I can learn something. The path is never lineal, one has some ideas but, like you say, it is important to be prepared for the opportunities (luck requires being prepared). Sometimes, I have done audacious things, like going back to get another degree (public health) while I was chair of my department! It was tough but it was the most amazing learning experience those two years back in school as a student.
Professions can restrict you but does not mean that one can just look around and join others doing what you are interested in. Trust your gut and jump. Sometimes it doesn’t work but often it does.
Like you, I joined the social media twitter thing early and thought from the start that it was important, no one believed it but it was great to learn with others and now find that one has become an expert at some of these things, expertise is not often what others teach you but what you create and follow.
Taking on different projects, sometimes it is hard, but it is what allows for moving in different directions, opening doors.
Taking risks and venturing in scholarly and professional worlds that were not necessarily part of my formal education has been crucial. An example is the friendship with folks like Susannah, a virtual distant sister so to speak. So thanks sister.
Susannah Fox says
+1 to all of that, including the feeling that you’re my brother from another mother (please, someone, invent a phrase like that for sisters in spirit). I remember well the first time we (finally) met in person — and the great selfie we took!
GONZALO BACIGALUPE says
Oh, one more thing, the past can be a good predictor for the future. I think one shouldn’t stop from trying to change the world until one has the resources, I have tried early on to change something and to pay attention to the most vulnerable. Sure, now I have a bigger voice, but one learns about activism while doing it and not after having achieved certain place or accumulated some resources.
Andrew Wilson says
Fantastic advice and wonderful comments. Also, can’t think you enough for all of you have already done for advancing digital health and for nutruing and growing the larger digital community. I still remember and use parts of your presentation from Stanford #mHealth when you spoke about the kingdoms of the sick and the kingdoms of the well and how the digital trail can help lead a path to those in need.
As for me – my contribution to the discussion on moving to a new position is that from the very first day at a new position, you should be preparing for the day that you leave. This is entirely about the concept of sustainability and building a program (or office or movement) that can survive after you move on. The real test of whether or not someone has made a difference is how sustainable the work is once they leave.
Thank you for everything and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you.
Susannah Fox says
That means so much to me – thank you. “Be useful” is my motto and I can tell that it’s one of yours, too.
I don’t think the videos from that Stanford mHealth event are online, but I posted my talk if you want to check it out: Map the frontier. Bring data.
And that’s actually another career tip: Be your own best archivist. Capture the value you generate.
Another great blog 🙂
My experience has been:
Maintain a positive and optomistic attitude (even against the odds).
Stick with your values, even when other around you don’t (even people you admire).
Volunteer for everything even if no one wants to do it. The hardest dirtiest jobs often give the best learning.
Give as much away as you can – you will reap more rewards than you expert i.e. generosity of spirit.
Laugh much and often.
Feel sure this is not an exhaustive list. Loved the blog and will share via Twitter 🙂
Susannah Fox says
Love that: volunteer for the dirty jobs. It is in the trenches that you find out who is a person of integrity and who is not. I will always remember who was there for me during a dreadful QA check for each launch I ever led. I will always remember who came over and helped me put together the charity auction catalog. Etc.
Alison Byrne Fields says
I made a big career change nearly three years ago when I decided to leave the communications firm for which I was working to start my own, so I tend to look for advice from other entrepreneurs, particularly those who see what they do as having a social purpose.
I saw Joe Whinney, the CEO/Founder at Theo Chocolate out here in Seattle, speak at a conference earlier this year. He talked about how, when he started his business, he wanted it to be a REFLECTION of his values: e.g., he would treat his employees well, he would only do business with ethical companies. But, once he got started, he realized that his business could also be a platform for PURSUING his values. It was such an appealing notion to me because of its ACTIVE approach.
That’s where I am now. Yes, I have employee policies in place that REFLECT my values. I work with clients who reflect my values. I treat my vendors in a manner that reflects my values. I give a substantial percentage of our profits to organizations that reflect my values. But I can also PURSUE my values – and I am discovering new values in the process. For example, I really want others to be empowered to run their own show, so I am using profits to invest in other first time business owners here in Seattle.
I’m pretty confident that recognizing the opportunity that my work provides me to pursue my values is going to be what keeps me on track – and sane.
Susannah Fox says
Massively important. And I’ve never heard it expressed this way. Thank you, Alison!
Laurie Putnam says
What I love about Susannah’s Seven Slogans and all the thoughtful responses is that they add up to much more than just career advice. All of these suggestions are good for the individual, but they’re also good for our organizations. If everyone treated others with respect, tried to learn from those around them, did the work that needed to be done, and moved on when it was time, we could all have more meaningful careers and healthier organizations.
For my contribution, here’s a variation on the idea of having a goal or a purpose to keep you focused: Think about what bigger question your work is trying to answer (like, maybe, “How can human connections improve healthcare?”). A single compelling question can become your north star. This is an idea I borrowed from Jeff Raderstrong (@jraders), who borrowed it from Lucy Bernholz (@p2173). I adapted it for libraries because I think it can work for organizations as well as individuals: http://www.nextlibraries.org/2013/10/does-your-library-have-a-question/
Susannah Fox says
Wow, wow, wow, I love that post and that idea. Thank you!
Margaret Laws says
What a fantastic blog post – thanks for the inspiration and set of principles that we can both live by and share.
A few thoughts, at both the high level and the very tactical, and they come together around the topic of passion.
If you know what you’re passionate about, great – tips 1-7 above provide a wonderful set of high level guideposts. I feel lucky to have had an early inkling (even when I was working at jobs or on tasks that were far from sexy or exciting) of where I wanted to point myself. I was, and am, passionate about bringing together different sectors – government, business, non-profits – and diverse people to solve challenging social problems, and have had the luck to make a constantly evolving and exciting career out of it.
Often, however, I’m asked for career advice by people who haven’t found or figured out what their passion is. They might be early in their career or feeling the need to make a big switch, and they don’t know where to start. So here’s my best piece of tactical advice: go out on job boards (I recommend Indeed.com these days) and spend some time looking at jobs. Don’t just look at jobs for which you think you’re qualified…look around. Read the descriptions and pay strong attention to your reaction. What gets you excited? What makes you smile? What leaves you cold? If there’s not a perfect match between where you are and what’s exciting you, then get out there and volunteer, network and get yourself to someplace that feels like a stepping stone. And then apply yourself to steps 1-7 above, fueled by this passion.
Alexandra Drane says
Sitting on a plane heading to MedX where I am going to get to inhale the extraordinary Susannah Fox in person…reading stuff like this just makes me feel THAT MUCH MORE BLESSED for the opportunity!!
Few quick thoughts from seat 11c:
1) Seconding Roni’s point…this post will be my go to answer to the career question here on in…and will check back from time to time to see what other little nuggets have been added. Thank you to all for creating this resource.
2) At 43 I am learning you are never too old to keep learning how to do all this stuff better – and as importantly – the second you feel any sense in yourself that you’ve found ‘the answer’ (to anything) – sound the alarm. In my experience, that’s the beginning of the END. Loving that the central theme across all the above is a never ending searching, a never ending challenging, a never ending seeking…of who you are, and how you can be making the very biggest difference in the world.
3) Want to offer an additional perspective on the five year goal thing…in my experience, sometimes folk can inadvertently get locked into those plans and begin to wear blinders (aka filter opportunities coming in through their preconceived notion of where they should be/should be going) – so be careful with that. Every day brings new experiences, new scars, new opportunities – be insanely curious about and open to them (remembering sleep and family matter too) – and be ferociously intentional about your life mission…if you don’t have one yet, set about figuring that out stat…if you do, never stop evolving it, pushing on it, challenging it, racing full-speed-chest-out-to-the-tape after it.
4) And to that end, I full-on agree with Margaret’s point (lordy lordy how I dig that woman) – there are a lot of folk out there who have not yet found their life mission!! Loving her advice on how to start rooting that out – and will add this… when you are looking to figure out what you love, pay attention to the things that catch your eye/soul. What articles do you finish because you are insanely curious about how they will end – v feeling obligated to get to the end? What conversations are you part of where you are so intrigued, your whole body listens? Find the theme in those things – it could very well help lead you to your life’s work.
5) Life can be hard – I love the quote (attributed to more than one) ‘Be kind, for everyone is fighting their own hard battle’. And, too, this one: ‘Learn to light up a room with love when you enter.’ Whenever you can, wherever you are – bring joy and soul and humor and empathy and kindness. Make it a goal that in every meeting you are in, with every conversation you have, you will leave those around you feeling better than when it began.
6) Last one. In my first job out of college, I got some feedback that while I was doing really well, a few of the execs felt I needed to tone it down a little bit – I was a little too intense/full on. I was crushed – went back to my desk sure that I was going to have to change my entire personality in order to really succeed in the ‘real world’. I had to work super late that night, and my dad was in town so he picked me up (thank you universe for that gift). I climbed into the car with big ‘my life is over’ crocodile tears …and I’m not a big crier so my dad whipped the car over to the curb and asked me what was up. I told him the story and said, ‘Dad – I’m going to have to change everything about myself.’ He was quiet a second and said, ‘Alex – do you want to be those guys when you grow up?’ I said, ‘Nope.’ To which he replied, ‘Then why are you listening to them? Be who you are. Be respectful – always – but be who you are.’ Life advice I’ve never stopped heeding. Be respectful of the norms of your environment, listen hard to the feedback you get (consider every aspect of it – including from whom it comes) – and also stay loyal to who you are in your soul.
Charles Ornstein says
Susannah, this is great advice. Thanks for writing it. I think a useful corollary to this is when is the right time to leave your job. I have always had the good fortune of leaving jobs that I loved. I would have been happy staying at those jobs for years longer, but opportunities and new challenges presented themselves–and it was hard to say no. I think it’s very important to not leave burning bridges–to work hard until the end, to maintain friendships and to talk positively about your former employer (if you believe what you’re saying).
In all of my jobs (except the present one), I’ve seen people who’ve stayed too long. In fact, they’ve stayed so long that they weren’t as marketable as they would have been had they left sooner. They didn’t seem as challenged as they once were. They didn’t seem as enthusiastic. They didn’t seem to have woken up and been excited (!!) about going to work each day. So the advice I would share is that you should look for a new job, or a new career, when you feel that you’ve lost the passion. Don’t do anything rash, but make a career move when it’s your decision and not when the decision is forced upon you.
Hope this is useful.
My own codicil to #4 and #5 – work with people you love. That seems an impossible bar. But the work and jobs that have most deeply tapped my potential, talents and passions have also been occassions for love and deep connection. So start by choosing to work with people who share your passions. And surround yourself with people you like and who bring out the best in you–and who challenge you as only those closest to you can. Understand that organizations can and should foster deep connections among people, and can equally make them almost impossible to create. Stay away from environments that are toxic and breed the opposites of love – distrust, persistent anger, fear, aimlessness.
Nell Minow says
I agree with all of the above, including the comments. I’ve had four different careers (so far), including government lawyer, shareholder advocate, serial start-up entrepreneur, and movie critic. Nothing has been more exhilarating than starting over for an entirely new adventure. One thing I learned is that some people will tell you to follow your dream and other people will tell you to be alert to opportunities you never thought to dream of. Both are true.
My best advice for people just starting on their careers is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nell-minow/10-easy-tips-after-college_b_5384693.html
Susannah Fox says
Holy mackerel. Everyone — click through on that post.
Thanks for sharing it, Nell!
e-Patient Dave says
Yep, even in my sixties, Nell’s rules are about the best I’ve seen; they get printed and hung.
Nell Minow says
Thanks, e-Patient Dave! You made my day.
e-Patient Dave says
I don’t recall anyone ever asking me for career advice! But at age 64 I’ve had (and seen) enough job changes that this triggered reactions.
1. Roni, I love “intersection of your passion and your skill set.” Lots of people talk about following your passion, but if you love playing baseball and can’t catch a fly, it’s not a good career idea. Thanks!
2. Susannah, it’s not the least bit obvious to say “respect everyone.” You know how common it is to see a lack of that. Your advice that each person you meet could affect your career later is essential.
What do you say to people who say “But, but, but… that guy is a CROOK (I’ve seen him steal) and doesn’t care a hoot about anyone – he’s TOLD me so”?
Example: I know a big-money executive in the industry who said Regina Holliday must be a sham because she’s always cried at the same point every time he’s seen her tell her husband’s death story. What do I respect there?
(I can treat everyone decently, even as I shy away from them, if that’s what you mean.)
3. AWESOME Peter Shankman thing on preparing for a meeting. I’ve tried to do most of that for most of my life, but this is the best summary. (One risk of opening one of your posts is the time I’ll put into link-chasing!)
4. Of Fred Wilson’s 4 rules for getting lucky, consider that before I almost died the first two rarely happened, and since then, they happen a lot. Something existential’s there – I don’t know if it can be switched on.
e-Patient Dave says
I do have two pieces of advice from my father, who rose from being a NY Telephone technician (wire-snipper) to VP of Sales for a division of 3M. It wasn’t about choosing a career – it was about getting an interview, specifically the role of the resume when you’re applying to someone you don’t know.
He taught me that nobody ever got a job because of their resume – the only thing a resume ever does is get you an interview. Thus, the resume’s only job is to get the interview.
So it needs to be constructed to earn attention from someone who might hire you. That’s “earn” as in “get attention for good reason,” not bogusly. And, he said, it doesn’t matter how many people that wouldn’t want you might cast it aside.
I personally took this to the limit, more than most people would, because that’s my style – outgoing, wanting to work for someone who sees a future and is stretching for it. Last year on Facebook I posted two examples that I created in my twenties, here and here.
(The first one caused the guy to create a new job for me – not the one he was advertising for. The second was seen by somebody in my then-current company, who decided to transfer me into my first marketing job and fast-track me to product management.)
I’m not saying everyone should do what I did – I’m just sharing the sane and effective tactical advice my dad gave me.
(Again, I wouldn’t use this advice in a situation where someone reached out and asked for a resume – this is for cold-calling, where you want to earn attention amid a stack of resumes.)
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn says
Susannah, your original post, and every comment thereafter, have so many pearls. This could evolve into an e-Book, I think. What compelled me to get on-course. and stay on-course, is inherent in Thoreau’s advice given to me by my Dad – who was in the rag (clothing) trade, so the quote was appropriate as both metaphor and taken literally. It comes from the first chapter of “Walden” in the section “Economy:” “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes…If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes.” This speaks to be authentically you: and I can say, knowing nearly every single person who’s responded to this post, this speaks to everyone who resonates with you. Looking forward to watching and learning as these responses continue…
Susannah Fox says
I have been traveling for the last 5 days or so, but reading each of the comments with gratitude. Let’s keep the conversation going — if anyone reading this has questions, please post them.
Also, while I was traveling, one friend who read this post gently asked me if I was aware of how privileged I am to be able to make these choices, to have these dreams of a career that is mission-driven. Yes. I initially wrote this post a few months ago and wasn’t sure I would ever publish it. I quote Cory Booker all the time to my kids (well, really, it’s a quote from Senator Booker’s own dad): “don’t you dare walk around this house like you hit a triple, when you were born on third base.” (Read the whole speech here).
But I also want to say: It’s possible. And I think we should tell our stories, just in case someone hears our advice and can act on it.
Joe McCarthy says
I’m so glad you tweeted a link to the version of this post you shared on Medium. I missed this post – and many others – as my attendance to social media started to wane late last summer, and I’m just starting to once again monitor some streams – like yours – that have low volume and high signal.
I especially like the phrase you used to characterize your advice in that tweet:
This offers a nice contrast to one of my pet peeves about some book authors: their tendency to exhibit a sort of projection bias – “I did it, [so] you can do it, too” – which doesn’t account for the full diversity of traits, skills, experiences and goals in other people … some of which may be better aligned with an author’s traits, skills, experiences and goals than others.
In any case, I enjoyed reading about your experiences, and how you have synthesized them for others’ benefit … as well as others’ experiences and syntheses posted in the comments.
Not surprisingly, given what I’ve seen of your work, a sense of community participation pervades many of your key insights, e.g., the involvement of colleagues within an organization and the interactions with and contributions of and to others outside the organization.
One dimension of my own career experiences that I’ve become increasingly attentive to is the importance not only of finding work that I love, but work that loves me back, i.e., a work context in which I am appreciated and appropriately rewarded for my contributions. I believe this subtext is part of the motivation that underlies nearly every career transitions in what I describe as my spiral career path.
I recently encountered another post on Medium, Don’t Do What You Love, by Rachel Nabors, articulates this insight in a far more provocative and insightful way.
I hope you are enjoying appreciation and appropriate rewards in your new position!
Susannah Fox says
Hi Joe! I’ve missed seeing you on Twitter but figured you were absorbed in life elsewhere. I love the links you shared — thanks.
It’s funny. I almost never published this advice on my blog and now it’s by far the most popular post I’ve ever written.
After I got a nice reception for it here, my friends at the Moebius Syndrome Foundation (a community where I’ve spent time in order to better understand the experience of living with rare disease) asked to reprint it in their paper newsletter. I said yes and then forgot about it until it arrived in snail mail a couple of weeks ago. Seeing it there made me realize that I could “re-up” it on Medium. I chose a cool photo, wrote a new tag line, and whoosh! It racked up recommendations, got picked by Medium staff for the front page, and became one of their top 10 posts for a few days.
I write all this to point out that it’s pretty random when you get a “hit.” You hope that you get picked, but as the sage Dr. Seuss wrote:
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
To see your life and career as a spiral is such a comforting thought because it means that the good things that have happened in the past could come back to you later and the rough patches won’t last.
And yes, I am doing work that “loves me back” at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and elsewhere. Thanks for asking 🙂
Susannah Fox says
Since the conversation is never over, I’m posting some advice that I recently shared with a college senior who is soon to be out on the job market:
Practice writing your bio in multiple ways — short and long. For example, my About me page contains a long version. My Cambia board bio is shorter. And my Twitter bio is super short — just a tag line.
Speaking of which, what is your tag line? How might you describe yourself in just a few words, yet convey something about your mission, skills, or interests? That’s a great exercise to do as you start thinking about what to do post-graduation.
Maintain a “Now” page — here’s background on what that is and a link to my Now page as an example. It gives you a chance to state publicly what exactly you are working on, aiming towards, etc. I use it to both advertise what I’m doing to potential clients & collaborators AND to keep myself focused. If someone offers me a consulting job that is not on my current mission path of boosting the signal for peer to peer health care, then I say no with more confidence, because I’ve stated that is what I’m working on right now.