Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Can’t Decide on a Career or Education Program? Get Career Planning Momentum in 20 Minutes

Try sitting down with your favorite beverage and taking 20 minutes to ask yourself, “What are my career planning goals and how do I achieve them?” If you are spending at least 20 minutes to surf your smart phone's app store, then you have time to spend on this activity.

A new job? A new career path? Direction in school?  If you have trouble defining what your career planning goals are, write or type out what is causing you to think about career planning:
  1.  “I don’t like my job.What I don't like about it: _________”
  2. “I’m not sure what to do after high school/college/grad school...”
  3.  “I’m not making enough money in my current work. I need a better paying job.”
  4. “My last child is going to school next year and I need to reenter the workforce.”
  5. “I just got diagnosed with a chronic illness and I can’t do my old job anymore.”
  6. “I’m unemployed and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to find another job.”
If you’re making a lot of negative statements, try rewording them into positive, more forward looking statements.  Like (in the same order as above),
  1. I want to find a job where I enjoy going to work.
  2. I want to study in an education program that leads to a successful career choice, one where I’ll enjoy the work and make enough money to pay off my student loans.
  3. I want a job (or career path) where I can make enough money to comfortably support my family.
  4. I want to start (or restart) a satisfying career path that will allow me to spend time with my family but satisfy my need for meaningful work and income to help pay our family’s bills.
  5. I want to start a new career using my unique talents, skills, and abilities.
  6. I want to find a new job that pay my bills right now and that will support me while I prepare for a new career in a growing career field.
Do a real “brain dump.” Don’t try to be short or fixate on finding the exact right words; just write out your thoughts and concerns about your situation.

To get some momentum, make a few short-term self-assessment goals (ones you can do today or tomorrow) related to the statements you just made. For example:
  • Read the article “Identify Your Skills” and make a list of skills, especially your “motivated” skills - ones you enjoy using and are good at.
  • Read about Holland’s Theory of Career Choice and think about how it applies to your current work or school studies. What future choices will you be making and how can you apply Holland’s Theory to them? 
  • Do one other activity from “Learn More About Yourself.
Hopefully after doing these activities you'll feel you've gathered information that will help you reach your career planning goals - and gained some momentum for decision-making. Don't be surprised if you spend longer than 20 minutes working on this - in fact, I was hoping to trick you into investing more time than you thought. The point is that it doesn't take much time to make real progress.

My next post will be about gathering information about your career options. What other information do I need to make good decisions?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thank You to My Mom (and Moms everywhere) for Their Career Choices

This Mother’s Day I’d like to focus on my Mom’s career choices and to thank her for all the work it took to make them.

I love this photo of my mom, Jeanine Wehr Jones, who (in my admittedly biased view) looks like a movie star with her smile, blonde hair and big sunglasses. In 1966 when this photo was taken, she taught English in Turkey as part of a Peace-Corps type of program. She was taking her students on a hike, sharing with them her interest in nature - just as she later shared it with my brother and me.

During teachers’ orientation, she met a fellow new college grad and my father, Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, The Career Key’s author. A couple of weeks later, he proposed to her on the boat from New York City to Turkey. More about his story at The Career Key website.

After getting married and returning to the United States, Mom worked as an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia where my father was in graduate school. Later, she would follow him to Missouri and finally Raleigh, North Carolina where she stayed at home to raise my brother and me for a few years.

When I was in middle school, my mom went back to school to get a master’s degree in library science, commuting a long distance in the pre-Internet days before online degrees and distance learning. At the same time, she helped care for her mother and raise her own family.

From graduation with honors until her retirement, she worked in the media center for an “alternative” high school. My mother’s Brooklyn, NY style humor was a hit with disadvantaged kids who didn’t know what to make of it. She told one streetwise kid to press his “whisper button” on his shoulder. He looked at his shoulder and then at her, puzzled. Then he laughed and was quieter. Her love of information and research led her to library science, but in the end she spent more time disciplining teenagers than she would have liked. She tries to make light of that job’s challenges, but it was stressful.

Later, Mom supported my father’s efforts back in 1997 to create The Career Key website; she was and still is an integral part of making Career Key successful. Her feedback, suggestions, and research skills continue to help it grow.

My mom’s first step in a series of career paths began in the 1960s but her story is just as relevant to today’s mothers. Caregiving aging parents and raising children, while working to earn a living to support the family is very much a current story. Many mothers (and more fathers) juggle all these balls and some even more.

Thank you, Mom for setting a good example for how a mother can successfully handle the career journey while helping to improve the lives of her children. For helping young people through teaching and education, while doing all the hard and often tedious work it takes to keep a household functional.  Hopefully I can do as well for my son and family. Happy mother’s day!