I like to think there are two kinds of occupations. There are “jobs,” and there are “careers.” On first glance, they might look the same, but I assure you, the two are worlds apart. Every person’s situation is different, but for the sake of definition, “jobs” are short term. They’re designed for teenagers with limited time on their hands or college students on summer break. Jobs can also yield more sporadic hours; they’re not built for planning ahead, especially if your schedule changes every week. A “career” is the opposite. It’s long term and made for people who are available to work 8 hours or more on a weekday. Careers lay the groundwork for planning ahead.
In a corporate or professional setting, it’s the career you want–the track that sets you up to be entry-level one day and an executive in the future. Careers leave room for growth, but it’s something you have to want. No one’s going to hand you a career. Sure, you might be lucky enough to fall into a career you love, but if you want to excel, it’s going to take a little extra work. If you’re an employee looking to treat your job more like a career, I have a few suggestions.
Make long-term goals.
Congratulations, you’ve made it. You’re starting your career, so now what should you do? You want your career to last, so make a few goals. Think about what you need and what you want out of your life. Ask yourself, what do I want my career to help me do? Maybe you want a new car. Maybe you want to buy your own home. Maybe you want to use your vacation time to travel abroad. Whatever your long-term goals are, chances are your career can help you achieve them. Every day you go into work, think about what you’re working towards and how being a valuable employee can be used to your advantage.
Climb the ladder.
I’ve said it before, but starting a career has the great potential for growth, especially if you work for a company that regularly hires from within. In your career, you can be more than your title. Nothing is outside your job description if it can help you gain value within the workplace. Think of your title are your base. You have to keep building up. Be willing to occasionally arrive early or stay late to make sure tasks are completed. Join a company committee and branch out. In the average work day, you have the same 8 hours as everyone else, so make every one count. Be more than your title implies and you’ll be on track for greater success before you know it.
Take the bad days with the good.
Believe me, we’re all prone to bad days. But in a career, it’s all about how you handle the pressure of a bad day. You don’t have to smile through it, but you don’t have to give yourself a grumpy reputation either. The grump and the incurable optimist can be equally unnerving for other employees. Find a balance. Your career is supposed to be long term, so it’s in your best interest to make sure you don’t consistently turn one bad day into a bad week and so on. Sometimes just admitting you’re having a bad day can turn things around. It’s okay to admit vulnerabilities every once in a while, so you can avoid further negativity. If other people know you’re having a bad, they might even try to help cheer you up, which is a favor you can return.
In the words of Aristotle, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” You career is the amalgamation of your experience and your ability to take a task at hand and see it through every single time. In essence, any job can be a career. It just depends on how you treat it.