Building Your Career

Success means different things to different people, but few of us would turn down a strong and growing career. Most people want more than just a job. They want a calling and a career, a steady source of employment with room for growth. But building a great career isn’t easy! If it were, we’d all be doing our dream jobs and making lots of money. Getting from where you are now to where you want to be will take hard work, commitment, and great choices that channel your best efforts toward the most important parts of your future plans. Here’s what you need to know about building a career.

Finding a career that suits you

We all have to work for a living, but not all jobs are really “careers.” Getting a career usually means training and schooling, and it virtually always means building experience and networking within your chosen professional. It’s possible to change careers, but it gets tougher the longer you wait, so it’s a good idea to figure out early what you’d really like to do — and then go all-out in your efforts to do it.

So what should you look for in a career? Stability is key, and that can be achieved when you target a career that requires a certain skill set. Take court reporting, for example, says one Miami court reporter. Court reporters (also known as stenographers) are the folks who take down everything said and done in a courtroom in real time. They use a specialized typewriter-like machine called a stenotype to keep up with witnesses, judges, and fast-talking lawyers, and they have to train to get the skill set that this job takes. As a result, they’re in demand and not that easy to replace.

This is just one example, of course. There are lots of other careers that offer job security, from medical doctors to unionized postal workers.

On the other hand, it’s possible that you don’t value job security as highly as you value the fast-paced risks and upside that come with being an entrepreneur. Ultimately, you’ll have to weight this as you consider your career, just as you’ll have to consider other things, including your personal values, the importance of money and prestige, your resources for schooling and training, and more.

If you’re stuck for ideas, consider seeing a career counselor — or even just a therapist. Getting your thoughts sorted out with a professional can help enormously.

Becoming the best at what you do

Choosing a career is arguably the most important part of building a career. Why? Because succeeding in your chosen career is going to take enormous amounts of work and commitment — and you’re not likely to have what it takes unless you really love and believe in what you’re doing.

Let’s say that you do. Other than working hard and staying on the ball, how can you maximize your efforts?

You can always be learning. CEOs read dozens of books a year, and so do many future CEOs — because learning, both for job-related reasons and general interest, can make you a better professional and a better person. Staying curious and looking for ways to improve are always good moves.

You can network, too. Yes, your hard work and skills are central to your success, but no man or woman is an island. You have to get to know the people who you can help and, of course, who can help you. You might meet your next employer, your next business partner, or your future protege as you network.
Finally, take the advice of Howard Fensterman, the successful New York-area attorney turned philanthropist and business adviser. Make your career a part of your life without letting it become your life. Balance work and life and channel your hard work and profits into good deeds, donating money and time as you can and building a life that’s worth of your own ambition. Be the best you that you can be.