Read What Color Is Your Parachute? Online

Authors: Carol Christen,Jean M. Blomquist,Richard N. Bolles

Tags: #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Business & Economics, #Careers, #School & Education, #Non-Fiction

What Color Is Your Parachute? (10 page)

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People generally will tell you how much they paid for something, but most don’t like talking about what they earn. Asking people “What’s your salary?” or “How much do you earn?” is taboo. If you keep your questions away from their personal earnings, most people you talk with will help you get accurate salary information. You can ask less direct questions, such as, “The average starting salary nationally is $41,750 a year. Are local starting salaries similar?” or “I’ve read that the average annual salary for an experienced worker is about $63,000. What is the salary range for an experienced worker in this area?” Starting and average wages for lots of occupations can be found online (see
). If you are interested in jobs that involve sales, this type of work usually pays a base salary plus commissions. You need to know that starting base salary so you can figure out if you could survive on the base salary, given your debts and monthly expenses.

The force that drives salaries up or down is supply and demand. If there is a great supply of workers with certain skills, but little demand for workers with those skills, the salary for that work will be low. Salaries rise when there aren’t enough workers (supply) to meet the demand. The ideal situation is to find jobs that you like a lot and that are in high demand. If you can’t find both
in the same kind of work, you’ll have to figure out whether it’s more important to you to have a steady income or work in a field that absolutely fascinates you but may not pay so well.

Some people want to earn as much money as they can. Others want to earn enough to take care of themselves, but still have time for hobbies and friends. Ask yourself,
“What salary do I want to make when I get out of school?”
“What salary do I hope to be making after five years of experience?”
“What do I want my top salary to be?”
“What jobs that interest me pay what I hope to earn?”
You can learn about salaries for jobs by reading job descriptions at career information sites like
. Find people doing these jobs and confirm the starting or average salaries in your area or where you’d like to live. Then figure out your ideal salary, which is the amount it will take to finance your preferred lifestyle. If you don’t know what your preferred lifestyle might cost, websites like
can help you figure it out. Write your likely starting salary and your ideal salary on your Parachute diagram in the section labeled Salary. This is your salary range.
Finally, let’s think about what level of responsibility appeals most to you. Do you want to be an employee, salesperson, supervisor, or manager—or do you want to own the place? Some people might call this the job’s “level of worry.” If you don’t want the worries of work to follow you home, choose your level carefully. And if you manage your career well, although you may start out at one point—say, entry level—over time you can gain the education and experience you need to advance. Briefly summarize what level of responsibility you want and write that on your Parachute diagram.


Work Environment

If you’re interested in learning more about the working conditions for particular jobs, check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which can be found at this website:

This website has free resources and a survey to help you identify your ideal workplace:

Geographical Location or Community

Want to investigate places that you’d like to live? Visit these websites:

If you’d like to live abroad, see Elizabeth Kruempelmann’s
The Global Citizen: A Guide to Creating an International Life and Career
(Ten Speed Press, 2004). In some fields, international experience may qualify you for a higher starting salary.

Interested in checking out various geographical locations with short-term jobs? See Michael Landes’s
The Back Door Guide to Short-Term Job Adventures
, 4th ed. (Ten Speed Press, 2005).

Volunteer work is another way to learn about different places. The following books will help you learn more about international volunteer opportunities:

Bill McMillon,
Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others
, revised 10th ed. (Chicago Review Press, 2009)

Joseph Collins,
How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas
(Penguin, 2001)

Charlotte Hindel et. al.,
Volunteer: A Traveler’s Guide to Making a Difference around the World
(Lonely Planet, 2007)

If part of your life’s dream includes working your way around the world, plan your adventure using a book like Susan Griffith’s
Work Your Way around the World
, 13th ed. (Crimson Pubishing, 2008).


Putting the Pieces Together


Are you ready for the next step? In this chapter you’ll finish filling out the
My Parachute diagram
and begin to identify your potential dream jobs. All the hard work you did in the previous three chapters has produced the pieces of your career puzzle. As you begin to identify potential dream jobs (or fields in which you are likely to find your dream job), you’ll begin to see the pieces come together to form new possibilities and directions for further exploration.

Though it can be tempting, we encourage you not to narrow your options for your dream job too quickly—that is, don’t lock yourself into a particular job title without looking at all the possibilities. In general, we humans are more comfortable with labels than lists. It’s certainly easier to talk about job titles than to give someone a list of skills that you like and want to use. But if you focus on a job title too soon, before investigating several jobs that might use similar skills, you may not learn about work that could be a better match for your best skills and favorite interests—in other words, you just might pass your dream job by.

If you didn’t have your parachute, the process of finding your dream job would be much harder. As you know, it’s very hard to find something when you
don’t know what you’re looking for! That’s why your parachute is so important. The information that you’ve gathered from your
will help you recognize your dream job when you come across it.

Finding Your Field of Interest

A good job for you will use most of your
favorite interests and skills. Turn to
My Parachute
and take a look at My Favorite Interests. What did you write there? Sometimes the process of finding your dream job, or potential dream job, involves a little “translation”—by which we mean taking your favorite interests and determining the occupational field in which they fit. Sometimes the
fields are much broader or much more numerous than you realize at first.

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