Seriously...How'd You Score that Gig?

mmm By J.T. O'Donnell Want to know one of my least favorite phrases with respect to finding a career? It's, "You can be ANYTHING you want to be." Not true! You can be anything you want to set your mind to becoming. There's a big difference - and it begins by researching careers to determine if a career is really a fit for you. Nowadays, choosing a career today is an overwhelming process. With thousands of career paths to choose from, there's always that nagging feeling, "Did I make the right choice? Is there something better for me out there and I don't even know it?" In fact, all of us at some point have listened to others explain their careers and think, "Wow. That sounds interesting, I wonder how they scored that gig?" Well, workplace author and speaker, Alexandra Levit, felt the same way years ago and decided to do something about it. I interviewed her recently about her own career path and how she came to write, "How'd You Score That Gig." Here's what she had to say: In 200 words or less, what's the down-n-dirty summary of your career path? I graduated from college determined to skip right up New York City’s corporate ladder. But after six months on the job as a PR exec in a global agency, I was so stressed out that I was ready to join the large numbers leaving the business world for graduate or law school. Eventually, by sticking around long enough, I developed many of the skills I needed to get ahead. I thought that if I shared my experiences with other twenty-somethings, maybe I would save them some of the agida I went through. This was the premise of my first book, They Don't Teach Corporate in College. I was fortunate that the book took off, and I used it to transition into a full-time career as a career and workplace author and speaker.mmm
What was the turning point, key moment, particular experience that flipped the switch and made you decide to write "How'd You Score That Gig?"
The idea originated as a result of several conversations I overheard at friends’ dinner parties in the space of a couple of weeks. It seemed that someone at every event always had a job that totally intrigued the rest of the group. People were completely captivated by this individual, and were always curious to know how s/he scored the gig, and what exactly it entailed.m
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made in your career?
In the beginning of my career, I was very frustrated and confused. I didn’t understand why I tried so hard but never seemed to get anywhere. Things started to turn around when I put myself under a microscope and took a close look at the persona I presented to the companies I worked for. After polishing the package and learning how to promote it, I practiced human relations skills like diplomacy and cooperation, as well as personal development skills such as organization and time management. I also overcame the negativity that was making me miserable and holding me back in my career and started getting the promotions I deserved.
What would you tell a college student or recent grad who has done nothing to date to figure out their career path and is totally overwhelmed to do to get started?
Sit down for a half hour and do a self-assessment of your values, how you like to work, and what you’d be compelled to do even if you never got paid. Once you have this starting point, research careers and industries that map to your skills and interests. Hit the Internet, set up informational interviews, take relevant coursework, and arrange to go onsite at a company in your chosen field.
Name three resources besides your own you recommend regularly to young professionals and why you refer them.
Lindsey Pollak - Getting from College to Career - wonderful tips for making the transition to the real world (
Christine Hassler - Twentysomething Manifesto - expert advice on managing the emotional perils associated with the twentysomething journey ( US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook - in depth portrait of literally thousands of jobs ( I especially like how Alexandra stuck out her first corporate gig so she could gain the self knowledge she needed to move forward. If you graduate from college and realize you don't know what direction you want to head in, more school is most likely not the answer! Instead, I suggest you focus on identifying your skills and preferences so you can eventually be the one people are asking, "How'd you Score that Gig?" Alexandra's career advice is featured monthly in the Huffington Post, and has been showcased in thousands of media outlets including ABC News, the Associated Press, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, National Public Radio, Fortune, Yahoo!, and MSN. You can purchase her book on here: How'd You Score that Gig?