It may sound crazy, but I believe all of us are familiar with what it means to be a stalker. Many of you probably think about (and hopefully do not relate to) the hiding-out, binoculars around the neck, creeper-style stalking that results in restraining orders or imprisonment. Perhaps on an even lesser scale, you may shamefully contemplate the hours you spent stalking the online pictures of your long-lost middle school crush that just friended you on Facebook. Regardless of these two stereotypical stalker types, I hope you will consider a new definition of stalking--a stalking of yourself and your career, that will challenge you to pursue your passions fearlessly, shamelessly and obsessively.
Stalking your career really means stalking your inner passions, your fire within and the talents you have and then blending those within a career. Unfortunately, for many of you, the word "career" evokes feelings of utter panic. "Career" has morphed into a new definition of entrapment, leaving post-grads feelings stuck, imprisoned to their nine to five jobs that mean nothing to them. For our entire lives, our teachers, parents, and society itself has trained us to believe that after college our sole purpose is to find a career that leaves us financially stable. We may have had inspirational mentors here and there that paid lip service to the importance of us pursuing our passions, but now that college is over, you may find that you do not so much as have an idea of what we'd like to do. The sky doesn't really seem to be the limit any longer because we are paralyzed by our fears of failure. But, now is not the time for fear. It is time for us to all shed our inhibitions, throw caution to the wind and find out what really drives us to wake up in the morning. In my book entitled, The Secret to Finding Passion in Your Career, I believe whole-heartedly when I proclaim that, "They (teachers, parents, society) may have been right or wrong, but now it is up to you to begin creating the reality in which you can live the life your inner nature requires you to live."
Once you have an idea of what interests you, search for people who are using your same passions in a career and stalk them. Don't follow them around and actually stalk them, but use them to build up an understanding of possible careers you could obtain and let them become a part of a system of networking you have for your future career as well. Never disregard or refuse a conversation with someone. It's not all about who you know, but all about who you are willing to get to know. Connections are vital in not only helping you gain opportunities in the future, but also giving you a wide range of knowledge pertaining to how to apply your passions in the working world. Investigate their jobs for things that may interest you or spark you to use your passions similarly. Be aware of who you're meeting everywhere you go. You may be at a boring Christmas party with all of your parent's seemingly lame friends or standing in line at the grocery store, but talk to everyone and find ways to give value to them. Welcome the exchange that is possible when you give and gain insight from those around you, a reciprocation that will naturally evolve into your personal growth in your specific field.
Once you have begun to seek out your passion in a specific career, pursue these opportunities relentlessly and creatively. It is hard to get a job in this economy, any job, and the lowest jobs are the hardest, because there are so many people applying. So, whether you're applying as a barista at Starbucks or as a high-level executive at a marketing firm, keep in mind that you must act creatively in order to be remembered and gain any type of competitive edge over the sea of applicants. Just as you can imagine, it is always more effective to have face-to-face conversations with people than a virtual one, so always opt to hand in a hardcopy resume or have a real life interview with a future employer over simply e-mailing your resume or having a phone interview. When face-to-face is not an option, add a picture to your resume since, "a memorable picture and a nice smile equals competitive advantage." Most importantly, be patient and stay persistent--and recognize that it may take time before you see the fruit of your labor (pun intended).
Today, even right now, let yourself daydream a bit. What do you love to do? Explore your passions freely. No answer is wrong, no occupation unreasonable, no dream unrealistic. Believe in yourself and believe in your own unique journey. Your life does not and should not look the same as the next person. Your career and vocation ought to align specifically to your heart, your talents, your skills and your interests. Although many will travel the world and start their own businesses, "You don't need to run around the world and start a business ... It is about being who you are and living life in that expression." Let yourself think, remember, and discover what you love and what you want out of life and relentlessly stalk that passion.
I remember the first job I ever applied for in an office during one summer in college. The job, a personal assistant, required that I have proficiency answering phones, filing paperwork alphabetically, making coffee, and using a copier. Having no past experience in an office, I confidently applied with my high school diploma, a few college courses, and somewhat tech-savvy skills under my belt. I mean, I knew my ABCs and I knew I could figure out how to transfer calls on a phone. I disregarded the fact that I had never once in my life made coffee or copies recognizing that I had no chance at being hired unless I beefed up my skills since my work experience consisted of babysitting. I showed up to the interview in my best workplace attire, exaggerated a bit, and obtained the job using charisma and a somewhat inflated resume. The evening before my first day, I resorted to YouTube videos on "How to Brew a Cup of Coffee" and "How to Use a Standard Copier" to teach me how to be a PA and life on the job turned out to be a breeze.
Clearly, "experience" in the workplace is taking on new meanings in our current generation. Most of us are familiar in job searching or even in job dreaming that experience is one of the key components employers look for. They want capable employees who have seen it all, run into every issue, and already stumbled in past positions so they can excel in their current one. Experience is valuable. But with websites like Google and YouTube allowing knowledge to exist at the fingertips of literally everyone in the world, the value of experience has changed. As stated in my book The Secret to Finding Passion In Your Career, "the knowledge our generation has about how to operate these resources gives us unlimited access to the experience of others." We can learn how to do almost anything, obtain any set of skills, and gain answers to any questions with sufficient research online.
Graduates, this is not a call to action to Google yourself into a career you are not qualified for or trick you into thinking that YouTube can replace a degree or years of experience in a specific field. This is a call to action to shed the limitations you've placed on yourself. We have paved a new frontier with our fresh, cutting edge, tech savvy and creative outlooks on life. Recognize that learning the experiences of others can never completely replace having those experiences firsthand. But stop limiting yourself--throw off your usual tendencies, and let yourself dream a lot about a job you may not have conventional experience in.
To find my book, go here.