The melodic bings, beeps, and squeals of a dial-up modem connecting to the internet is a marker pinned to the brains of most of us over 40. We waited anxiously for a connection to the new, wonderous, connected world. It is also a valuable metaphor for work and professional life.
The tools of work change and advance but the fundamental importance of critical thought does not. At a most basic level, businesses and organizations hire people to solve problems. Anyone can Google stuff. It is what you do with it that matters.
No one wants to go back to dial-up modems. The speed that we can now access broad swaths of information is amazing, but that data has little value if you do not do something with it.
It is up to us to take the information and take action.This is an integral part of what college is. Learning to put complex information puzzles together to do something that actually adds value.
Once we believe we have mastered the puzzles of our respective disciplines, we start the journey to find a place that values our abilities and contributions.
Looking for a job is like dating and can be equally as awkward. Both sides are trying to put forward their best selves and hide their not so attractive sides.
Does your resume paint a vivid picture of what problems you can solve? Do you have matchmakers watching for opportunities that might be a good fit for you?
Perhaps you have mastered a particular software application. Don’t boast about your mastery. Instead, tell a story about how you used that skill to solve a challenging problem.
When it comes to work, one of the raps against the Millennial generation is their disdain for typical work life and the high ideals they have for their employers. I want to thank Millenials for challenging the old rules of work. It is healthy to have interests outside of work. It is healthy to work for an organization that has all of its stakeholders’ interests in mind. Don’t lose that desire for balance.
So how do you find a place to work that matches your values? I suggest digging into the little things. Is there an attitude of scarcity or abundance? Do they spend a dollar to count a nickel? Are the talking points about the value of the organization’s employees actually backed up by concrete actions? Don’t overlook warning signs. Take a hard look at how its most valuable resource, people, are treated. If the compensation is below market are there counterbalancing factors you value?
Finally, have fun. Life is too short to be stuck doing things that bring you little joy. Exactly what constitutes fun is up to you, but it can be found. A place that does not feed your inner soul in some way is a place to avoid.
Next up – So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen….you know the rest.