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? (29 page)

BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
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You’ve already done the exercises in
part 1
and identified either three potential dream jobs or three areas of interest, you’ve made sure these jobs or fields still interest you, and you’ve reviewed and updated your parachute. You’re ready to look for your first full-time job! The first step is to do lots of information interviews. Career coaches estimate it can take over fifty information interviews to find a job that will suit you well. In hard times, you may need as many as two hundred contacts before you get hired. You learned the basics of interviewing for information in
chapter 4
and the fundamentals of networking in
chapter 8
. Now you’ll build on those basics.

Remember, information interviewing shouldn’t be complicated or intimidating. As we’ve said before, it’s just a conversation with another person about a shared interest or enthusiasm—in this case, a particular job or career. You ask questions, but you’ll spend most of your time listening. Let the people you’re interviewing tell you their stories about how they came to do the work that interests you. Soon you’ll know

• More about the industry or field in which this job happens.
• Common salaries for this work.
• Whether this is a good career choice for you.
• Employers who hire people to do this work.
• Ideas for how you can train for or get such a job.

Information interviews will reveal whether or not your best skills match the most common activities or tasks done in a particular job and how much the work overlaps your interests. Before you ask people to talk with you, read several descriptions of that job, field, industry, or career. You will ask better questions and be a better listener, and the information you collect will make more sense. For each person with whom you have an information interview, use Google or LinkedIn to see what you can learn about them. What you read about an interviewee’s background, experience, education, or current position will help focus your questions. Also, your interviewee will be impressed (maybe even flattered) that you took the time to research them.

BASIC INFORMATION INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
  1. What do you do? What are three to five of the most common tasks or activities you do each day? What skills do you use doing those tasks? Do you mind the repetition?
  2. How long have you been doing this work?
  3. How did you get into this work?
  4. What kind of training or education did you need for this job? How much did it cost?
  5. What do you like about your job? What don’t you like about your job?
  6. What are the main challenges in this industry?
  7. What do you see happening in this field in the next five to ten years?
  8. What is your ultimate career goal?
  9. What is the starting salary in this job or field? What is the salary range with three to six years experience?
10. Do you have any additional comments, suggestions, or advice?
11. Can you give me the names of two or three other people who do this same work?

In this first step, find and talk to people who have jobs or careers that interest you. (These interviews are in
addition
to ones you may have done earlier, in high school, when you were just beginning to research jobs and careers.) If you’ve targeted three to five potential dream jobs, continue your research by talking with people who do the job you want to do or who work in the same field for each of your dream jobs. Talking with people gives you a reality check for what you’ve read about a job or your occupational preferences. These conversations
will help you determine how well each target matches your parachute. The job that matches best will become your #1 job target, the job that matches next best becomes your #2 job target, and so on. Try to find at least three kinds of jobs or careers that overlap with your parachute.

Let’s say you’re interested in becoming a writer (of articles, books, columns, etc.). You would arrange to interview someone working in that field. Anya’s profile (below) is an example of what you might learn in your information interview. You will find additional profiles—of a social media specialist, solar energy sales coordinator, organic farm manager, hazardous waste management specialist, career adviser, and information technology manager—in
appendix C
. These profiles show you how much important information you can glean from an information interview. They introduce you to different jobs and different types of people. The jobs cover a range of education and training requirements and
represent a range of salaries. Some of these people feel they have a dream job. Others feel they have a good job. All those profiled enjoy their work.

WRITER

Name:
Anya Kamenetz    
Age:
29

Job Title:
Staff writer for a magazine, author, blogger, speaker

Field:
Journalism

Employer(s):
Fast Company
magazine, and myself!

Degree:
BA, Yale University

Cost:
$120,000

Training:
None

Salary:
Starting: $12,000 (freelancing), $37,000 (salary); three to six years’ experience: $100,000

What do you do?

Using storytelling and other creative techniques, I try to present enlightening, useful, and important ideas in a compelling way in different media: print, online, blog, tweet, audio, video, or in person.

What are the tasks you do most often?

Research by reading things on the Internet. Call people for more information, pitch ideas for stories, and write stories. Concretely, I generally produce anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 published words in a month, whether that’s a book chapter, a long feature story, or many smaller stories or columns. Plus blog and twitter posts. I do about two media interviews a month for radio stations, TV shows, print stories or podcasts, and usually one or two speaking engagements, like a speech at a college or a panel discussion at a conference. I also travel to do on-the-scene reporting for stories.

Do you supervise anyone?

No, thank goodness!

How long have you been at this job?

Since graduating in 2002. I published my first book,
Generation Debt
, in 2006. I was a freelancer/contract worker until January 2008, when I was hired at Fast Company.

How did you get into this work?

My parents are both writers (father, poet and nonfiction; mom, primarily fiction) and I always loved reading and writing. Starting in high school, I developed a bit of a social conscience and decided to combine my love of the craft of writing with the ideal of making a difference in the world. Hence, journalism. Specifically, my dream was to be a staff writer at the
New Yorker
.

What do you like about your work?

I love my work. I feel incredibly lucky to have work that is creative, engaged with the major issues our society is facing, highly varied, and where I feel like I have a unique contribution to make. In the last few years it has paid more than I ever expected to be making, but I would happily work for less if the job fulfilled more of the above goals or was more flexible.

What don’t you like about your job?

Sometimes, I get tired of dealing with PR (public relations) people.

What are the main challenges in this industry?

If you believe the news, this industry is one of the most challenged in our economy, second only to U.S. automaking. Revenue models and mediums are changing fast and I worry about support for quality independent investigative journalism. But I believe fiercely that storytelling and information “curation” will remain valued into the foreseeable future.

What do you see happening in this field in the next 5 to 10 years?

Printers will become empty warehouses. Only a few favored newspapers and magazines will remain on paper as quality heritage designed and printed objects (the
Sunday Times
?
Vogue
? the
New Yorker
?). Television will escape the convention of the daily broadcast schedule to become ubiquitous video-on-demand. New configurations of blogs, microblogs, portals, channels, podcasts, and networks will replace discrete collections of programs and articles. Product placement/integration and psycho-demographic targeting will further blur the lines between display ads and content.

Have you used social networking in a job search?

More accurate to say … I have used social networking instead of job searching, as new opportunities find me all the time via Facebook, Twitter, my university’s alumni network, and my blog. I have never done a conventional job search.

What is your ultimate career goal?

Keep writing books (the latest,
DIY U
, is about the future of higher education) and build a lifelong career as an internationally known and influential public intellectual (an amalgamation of Malcolm Gladwell + Naomi Klein), while preserving plenty of time for my family and personal life. I would also take staff writer at the
New Yorker
!

BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
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