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The Four Questions to Determine Your Next Job

March 4, 2009

Ever since I started blogging on Brazen Careerist, a site that aggregates blogs by young professionals about careers, management, and life, I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal mission statement. At some point I’d like to write a personal thesis; a manifesto, if you will. But right now I really just need to be able to answer this question in one or two sentences: What am I looking for?

(Disclaimer: I’m currently fortunate to have a job. But it’s never too early to be thinking about the future.)

The question can mean a few different things. If you’re just looking for job, the question is straightforward: What job will do for you right now?If you’re ready for your dream job, then you’re asking a different question.

What Is My Dream Job? 

In truth, my dream job is to work for myself. To own my own company. To have my own intern.

Muddling the process is the fact that a completely separate dream job of mine is to write fiction for a living. It’s quite possible this will never happen. I think in all likelihood, I will publish stories here and there, maybe a novel, but I have no delusions of grandeur. The vast majority of novels are not bestsellers. 

I’m slowly but surely working on both of those dreams. I’m not expecting anyone else to make them happen for me. I’m taking responsibility for my dreams.

However, in the future, after my current job, I will need income. I will need a job.  I feel like I have to begin with my experience: what I’ve done precludes what I will do. And not just what I’ve done…

What Have I Done Well?

I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in International Business and a minor in East Asian Studies (Japanese). I worked as a project manager at a publishing services company for 4 years, during which I excelled at completing projects on schedule. I created the project tracking platform that my office used for the last 3 of those years. I also spent the final 8 months of employment as a team leader, motivating my team members to an unprecedented 100% on-time book-completion rate.

I’ve spent the last 15 months as the Director of Operations at a Newman Center on a university campus. I oversee an $800,000+ budget, 10 full-time employees, the board of directors, the residents of the house, and many volunteers. With absolutely no prior development experience, I coordinated a Gala that raised $130,000 (profit) for the Newman Center, a 30% increase from the previous high. I also compiled and wrote a newsletter that went out to 5,000+ constituents.

I co-coordinate the marketing initiatives for a local barbershop, Cutters & Co, including writing a monthly newsletter. I’ve been published on Crosswalk.com; my article on that site has received over 6,500 pageviews in less than 2 weeks.

But perhaps the real question is:

What Do I Enjoy Doing?

I enjoy making things happen from behind the scenes; I don’t like being the face of the company. I love to write. I like to implement structures that promote objectification. I like to create metrics–metrics for valuing employees, metrics for gauging project status, metrics for measuring success. I like to oversee projects from start to finish. I believe in my vision, but I’m open to other opinions. I’m good with technology but it causes me more stress than anything else. I absolutely love design–web design (aesthetic, functionality, and usability) and product design, but I don’t know how to code. I enjoy giving good service (I worked as a waiter during a few summers in college). I like having a product that I truly believe in, a thing, a service, something tangible, but I can motivate myself to believe in anything if the job requires it. I like managing people, particularly people who are willing to work hard (yes, I know the irony in that statement–a good manager can motivate anyone to work hard).

So that leaves the endgame:

What Am I Looking For?

I’m looking for a progressive, forward-thinking company that rewards productivity, efficiency, and creativity. I’m looking for a position that combines written communication and human resources with product, project, and/or website design and process management.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Neeraja permalink
    March 4, 2009 10:21 am

    So Google then?

  2. Tolles permalink
    March 4, 2009 12:39 pm

    So circus animal trainer then?

  3. Bob permalink
    March 4, 2009 5:54 pm

    Yes, I echo Mike’s question. After all, “a good manager can motivate anyone to work hard,” but a great manager can motivate any pachyderm to work hard.

  4. Trevor permalink
    March 5, 2009 5:11 pm

    How about being a pimp? The transvestite hooker community in St. Louis could use a little extra motivation to “get that dolla”. I walked by one the other day and I wasn’t even solicited! Not even a “Hey Baby. How YOU doin’? Wanna cross swords?”. Nothing. You should put your business development skills to use in a truly lucrative, yet challenging field. Expand your horizons. Own your own business.

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