What My First Client Taught Me About Career Happiness

This article was written by Mary Sherwood Sevinsky, career and occupational consultant, on behalf of the Happy Grad Project. How do you find career happiness? Find out how this author's first client found it after college. New grads are often stymied by the influence of the well-intentioned, more established, and older adults in their lives. Often, when working with college-age clients, I find that they are unwittingly following a path established for them by their parents or other influencers. Worse, they are comparing where they are in their young lives to those more mature who have worked for decades to achieve what they have. This can be very disheartening, to say the least! To be truly happy, we all must know what makes us happy – in our careers, sure, but also in our lives. Think about what you enjoy, what you truly love to do. Start by not considering earning potential, job availability, or training. This reality check only includes you. What do you want for yourself? If you are a recent grad, you are a step ahead of a lot of other folks, even if you find that, after four years, you may not like your major much or don’t really know what you would like to do. If you are a recent grad who loves the major you have declared and know exactly what you want to do – great! Either way, consider how you want your days to be. Do you love the idea of commuting into the big city and working your way up from a cubby to a corner office? Do you want an open floor plan with a team of co-workers at your elbow, everyone kibitzing and solving the world problems? Do you love being outdoors – forget buildings altogether? What floats your boat? Knowing this will keep you focused on your goal and make you stand out from other candidates, from the first application to the final interview, and to every promotion you earn or business you start. Knowing what you love to do and why will also allow you to see opportunities you might otherwise miss. This secret knowledge will also keep you going through some of life’s curveballs and allow you to find the solutions you need to forge your path. I still remember my first client – a young woman of 20 years. Originally a business major, she had taken a literature class as part of her basic course work. After reading and writing an essay about The Metamorphosis by Kafka, the instructor called my client to the side to explain the B+ grade was for the writing, but that her insights had a very psychological bend and wondered if she had considered it for a major. The next semester, my client took a general psych class and became hooked! She read the entire textbook, including the appendices that explained what one could do with a career in psychology and how much one could expect to earn. It quickly became clear to her that she would have to get her Master’s degree and not just a Bachelor’s as she had planned. Excited by everything she had learned about the field and having a new passion, she shared it with everyone she knew. Abashed, she found that many of her friends and family counseled her to be more practical and work at something realistic that she could do with a bachelor’s degree and make more money. Wisely, she was not deterred into following the recommended path and was able to identify career opportunities she would have not otherwise seen. While she has veered somewhat from what she initially envisioned, she knew that she loved working with people and understanding what makes them tick and helping them through her interactions. Today, she has had many fulfilling years working with people, and is a successful Career Coach who never lost sight of the importance of loving what you do and what it can get you. In fact, my client has the opportunity to share the powerful message of the importance of choosing to do what you love every day... I know. I was my first client! My best wishes to all the new grads, young and old – you are starting out on a long path that is unique to you and only you can decide where it will take you. Good luck!

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