May 25th, 2008

Career? What's that?

Weekend Assignment #217: What's the best piece of career advice you were ever given?

Extra Credit: What's the worst piece of career advice you were ever given?

Hmmmm. I'm having a hard time coming up with an answer for this one. Maybe because I'm hoping my best piece of career advice is yet to come.

But I've actually been looking at a particular on-the-job fault of mine through a microscope this week, and have maybe realized something, but it's not the result of anyone's advice. I find I can get myself, and others, and projects, in trouble by not admitting that I think I have too much work to do. I think I have a bit of a "superwoman complex," or whatever you would want to call it . . . not that I think I'm Superwoman, but I think I should constantly try to be. When I'm asked for help by co-workers, even if I have a zillion demands on me already, it's often impossible for me to say no, and I think the main reason is that I don't want to be seen as someone who isn't a team player. In six years I have gleaned quite a bit of knowledge about how the organization I work for operates in many different capacities, and excepting our IT administrator, I have the most advanced computer skills on the staff. I get asked a lot of questions. I pitch in so much that I fear I'll be resented any time I don't. And I don't want to be seen as a complainer. But I think I should be aware by now that it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

So, I think my advice to myself this week was, "You need to make it clear when you're being asked to do too much." That's probably not the best career advice I've ever been given, but I think it was a personal breakthrough for me. Because toward the end of the week I actually did start to tell people when they were adding too much to my load, and we collaboratively found ways to reduce that load, so that I could get more of my work done. I think this revelation is not only good for my sanity but my productivity as well.

The extra credit is going to be easier. I once mentioned to someone that I loved to travel, and then he said I'd be perfect for the military in that regard. Now, granted, I've never put it to the test, but I'm fairly certain I would be both miserable and useless in the military. If they would even take me.

A career assessment test I took as a sophomore in high school opined that going into military was the single worst career decision I could possibly make. That same test told me the best-suited career choice for me would be librarianship. Seventeen years later, I'm thinking that was a pretty smart test. I just wish I'd listened to it sooner.
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