Career Advice No One Tells You

I meet with interns and freshly minted graduated students trying to find a way into the Hollywood industry.

Here’s a few things I tell them:

Don’t just consider what you like, consider what you don’t like.  The thing you hate may be the thing God’s called you to fix. The fact that you hate the way something is designed, written, or produced could drive you to fix it. Adrianna Reo started a nonprofit for children, Reo Backpaks, in the inner city areas of LA when she lost her job during a downsizing. They gave her a severance check to give her some time to find another job, but after 2 or 3 months she realized it was going to take more time than she had planned. So since she didn’t have a job she decided she’d make one.

Adrianna remembered as an immigrant child how stressful showing up for the first day of school had been in a new county. She had no school supplies and the few things she did bring with her that first day of school had been put into a paper bag. The other kids immediately dismissed her as a loser without even knowing her. Kids today continue to be discriminated against because they arrive at school and don’t have school supplies or a backpack. So she started a nonprofit to buy and fill backpacks with school supplies and gives them to kids in need in the inner city of LA. Today the nonprofit is her full-time job. She remembered something she hated and turned it into a job she’s passionate about.

Pick a mentor not just a company. Working for a successful big company can be great to brag about at a party, but if you get lost in the shuffle the opportunity for advancement may be slim. Sometimes choosing a startup where the pay may be lower or where you might have an opportunity to work with the founder or visionary can be more advantageous. Being around great mentors often teaches you more about leadership and puts you in the front when the company soars. Taking a step to the side might just put you in the lead. It can also give you key insights should you want to start your own company in the future.

Never stop learning. Many young people after leaving college never crack a book, attend a conference, or continue to learn. They often feel that they’ve learned it all. What got you that initial internship or job won’t get you to the next one if you don’t keep learning. If you’re not scheduling time daily to read, listen to a podcast, webcast, or attend a conference regularly you aren’t going to get far. Successful leaders know that to stay successful it has to include continued learning and a humble spirit. They know it’s about asking questions, searching for answers, and being open to new possibilities. These are the people that top leaders also want to hire and be around because it keeps them sharp.