I have always been very concerned with becoming a respectable job candidate, even before I really knew what I wanted to do. I’d thought the goal was to master information that would set me up for a successful career. I took school seriously and got good grades, and I believed that doing well on tests was a good indication that I was doing well, that I would be successful in life.
In many respects, the skills that we learn in school are not very good preparation for work. Success at work often doesn't involve being obedient, following instructions, or even necessarily completing assignments on time (all the abilities that school achievement is built on). There is one way, though, in which being in school and being in the working world are quite similar: having to collaborate and work closely with different, sometimes non-compatible, personalities.
Dear Money Talks, I work in a small department of a large university. I started there as a graduate assistant, and over three years I have worked my way up to a full-time staff member in a position I essentially created for myself. I really like the job and my coworkers, I get great benefits, and I am not eager to leave this workplace except for, of course, the salary.
Some stores like Wal-Mart are not content to wait until Black Friday to lure shoppers in with deals and stay open on Thanksgiving day itself. Others, though, are taking a stand.
I am an inveterate comparison shopper. The internet is a vast trove of unfiltered community, each site brimming with hundreds of thousands of desk jockey and stay-at-home moms, eager to share their opinion with anyone who will listen. I consult product reviews before I do pretty much anything, getting lost in the mire of Amazon reviews of cat litter, or customer reviews of the boots I’m about to buy. My search for a dutch oven that doesn’t cost an arm and leg is an ongoing, two-year quest, enhanced by constant consumer research. I like my decisions helped along with the opinions of others. I apply this same principle to the job search. That is why I have embraced the glory of Glassdoor.com.
All of which is to say, don’t quit your day job, or if you do, don’t join a 20-person brass band.
If you are also an adult who actually didn't turn out to be a veterinarian/astronaut/marine biologist the way you dreamed about when were a kid, well join the club. Most people -- 94% according to a longitudinal study published in the journal Social Forces -- do not end up in the job they wanted when they were eight years old. This is interesting:
Before I started working at Whole Foods last December, I was only an occasional shopper. I went in when I needed something specific, like broccoli rabe or gluten-free cupcakes for a friend’s party. I never wanted to buy more than a few items because I didn’t trust myself. Everything in the store seems like such a good idea—organic, all-natural, so good for you—that I kept myself confined to only the essentials out of financial necessity. My secret fear was that I would go into a shopping trance and wake up in the parking lot with half my bank account missing on a week’s worth of groceries. Like many secret fears, it was based on letting out the worst side of myself.
I met David Melito a few weeks ago when I was on vacation in Los Angeles. We were talking about our shared interest in money, mine because—well, you’re reading The Billfold right now, aren’t you?—and his because he’s a production accountant in the film industry.