There is a right answer to this question: I work with great people, and I am learning something every day.
The guy who wrote the book on being a highly effective person counsels to “begin with end in mind.” People engaged in job search often think that landing a job is the end that they should have in mind. Yes and no. The end should be a bit more ambitious, not just a job, just a paycheck, but a job you love. That doesn’t mean you love every second of every day. But it means you can give the right answer (above) when someone asks, “What Do You Love About Your Job?” Note that that answer does not include, “I work in _____ [fill in your dream industry: entertainment/sports/fashion].”
I recently caught up with two former students. One works at a company that sells interior doors for homes. She loves her job. She laughed about that unlikely fact. Or, at least it seemed unlikely to her. Who knew working at a door company could be so awesome? She has a great boss and she loves putting into practice ideas she was exposed to in school.
The other one works in the ad tech sector. (Ad tech = advertising technology = the crazy mess of companies that target and display online advertisements.) She loves her job, too. She told me that after six months at the company, she is pretty close to being able to explain what she does. That’s not because she is slow. Quite the contrary. It’s because the job is very complex. Rather than being a drawback, complexity is a hidden treasure: it’s a key ingredient in sustained opportunities for learning. I am so proud of her for not being put off from pursuing the lead because of initial (and understandable) bewilderment.
Focusing a job search too narrowly on familiar industries is a recipe for spending a long time looking and probably for settling for unnecessarily low pay. I want students to understand just how unimportant the specific context will be to their happiness and productivity in their jobs.
The reports from these two former students are perfect examples of the importance of keeping an open mind in job search.