Career Advice for Following Unconventional Paths

GlobeIf there’s one thing we’ve always supported, it’s following unconventional paths and doing something that you enjoy, even if it’s an untraditional route.

If you feel that a technical school is a better fit than a four-year university, go for it! If you are passionate about a skilled vocation and want to skip ahead the working world, well, the industry could certainly use you. There is not one type of education that’s a good fit for everybody, but everybody does have the potential to explore different types of education and work.

Apprentices, internships, jobs, and more are all part of a wide world of opportunity. Manufacturing, in particular, offers many different routes that are either traditional or untraditional, and also offers benefits that sometimes pair well with students who haven’t enjoyed standard classroom learning.

Here are a few snippets from our favorite career gurus who have been successful by doing just that– following their hearts.

Jenna Lyons: The design magnate at retailer J.Crew is often plied with questions about how to get a job or how to get a job you love, and recently answered with this advice: “All I can say is, don’t think about that stuff. Think about what you want to do and what you love. Because you will never be successful by spending too much time thinking about how you’re going to get ahead. It doesn’t work that way. The way you get ahead is by doing something you love and committing yourself to do that, because then you’ll be happy, and you’ll work hard, and you’ll get noticed for that.”

Mike Rowe: In response to a letter from a fan, our favorite blue-collar hero Mike Rowe offered some advice that’s a little different from Lyons’s, and less geared toward following your passion (in a sense): “My first thought is that you should learn to weld and move to North Dakota. The opportunities are enormous, and as a ‘hands-on go getter,’ you’re qualified for the work. Stop looking for the ‘right’ career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.”

Brigid Siegel Polachi: Polachi is a female partner at Access Executive Search, and gives advice to females who may doubt their ability to work in a field that isn’t traditionally female-dominated: “As an anomaly in my freshman year of college, a female student from a Catholic school with less math and science than male students, I felt overwhelmed, insecure, and doubted my ability to succeed and compete. I was afraid of failure and shared my concerns with an approachable professor. His response was pivotal in changing my outlook– he assured me that the raw skill set was there but I was too hard on myself. My best piece of advice– if you are feeling insecure, reach out to a teacher, professor, or mentor before you are overwhelmed and lose focus. Don’t give up too early– everyone takes time to season.”


photo credit: The Globe via photopin (license)