Have you ever sung along to Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” and then reflected on exactly what it is you would do if you could go back? I know I have. I think about relationships, financial decisions, personal decisions and of course, career decisions.
When I ask people if they are in their current career by choice or by accident, many people tell me they just happened upon their career. It wasn’t necessarily what they thought they would be doing as an adult, yet here they are. When I ask them if they’re happy with their career, I get a variety of answers.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”badSM” via=”yes” ]If you could turn back time would you still do what you do for a paycheck?[/ctt]
When I was growing up in my small town outside of a small town, I had very different aspirations for my adult life than what I am currently experiencing.
I grew up in the 70s and 80s. I knew that I wanted to have a career. At that time for a girl from a small town, I had three obvious choices: I could be a nurse, a teacher, or a secretary. Of course, I knew I could be anything, but those were the traditional choices that seemed to make the most sense. Medicine, education, or an office.
Boys in my small town had options too. Since it was a “farming-first” community, many families had farms. However, farming didn’t pay the bills in the 70s for most people any more than it does now, so men had a limited number of traditional choices too. Working for the government was the most popular, since I live in my nation’s capital. Besides office work, there were a lot of blue-collar options: working for Hydro, learning a trade, or becoming a mechanic were the most common.
I wanted to be a teacher but didn’t have the marks to get into teacher’s college. So I took a nursing program offered at the hospital in town.
My parents were very proud of me in my white uniform, my ugly shoes, and my cute little nurses’ cap. I was scared to death because even though I was graduating, I knew I had made a career mistake. I had gone to school for the wrong thing. I didn’t want to be a nurse for the rest of my life. And I thought I was the only person who had ever screwed up her life like that. I felt like a failure.
According to a study by student loan advisory firm LendEDU, 7.2 per cent of 2018 college graduates say they pursued the wrong degree. They said that within a month of graduating from a four-year program.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”c2719″ via=”yes” ]7.2% of 2018 graduates say they pursued the wrong degree. Did you?[/ctt]
If I could turn back time, I would have taken a different subject in college. Education is never a waste, but I would have studied something closer to what I really enjoy doing.
After I left college, I picked up the newspaper and started applying to job ads. Well, only one ad, actually, and I got my first full-time job, working in an office—and I loved it.
Fortunately, times were different in the 80s and getting a job meant you just had to reply to ads in the newspaper. Things are different now. Getting a job now is much more about making connections. What types of connections did you have in your youth? Did you think you would need them to get a job? What are your connections like today? If you had to go out and get a job today, are you well connected enough to reach out to your network and let them know you are looking?
Of those 2018 graduates in the survey, only 41 per cent said they got a job within a month after graduation and most of those said they’d gotten their job by networking. Almost 29 per cent reported they had found a job via “connections through a family member or friend.”
Of those who hadn’t yet secured full-time employment, almost 22 per cent said they lacked connections.
You don’t have to turn back time to create a network. Even if you are sure you will never have to look for another job, you may know someone who needs your help.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”fxccd” via=”yes” ]A network is important to your career. Are you part of my network?[/ctt]
I didn’t stay at my first job very long and I was able to move from job to job quickly. Career growth was important to me, and it was important that I could grow within the company.
In the survey, only 11 per cent of recent graduates said the ability to grow and learn within their company was important to them. They cited good pay (44.6 per cent) as the most important aspect in choosing a company to work for.
I wonder if, when they reflect back on their choice of company, they will wish they could turn back time and choose more wisely. While pay is important, is it the most important thing, especially as we get older?
I did stay with that company for 10 years, and I don’t regret it. I didn’t leave too early, and I didn’t stay too long either.
Have you ever stayed in a job too long? Do you wish you could turn back time and change that?
Graduates who were surveyed said they have expectations about how long they will stay in their new job. A full 25 per cent said they expect to stay only for six to 12 months. I would like to see their results in that time to see if they did move that quickly, or whether they let their comfort in receiving a paycheck and security take over.
I have more than 30 years of experience on these new graduates, and I know that I wish I had the wisdom then that I have now.
Turning back time is not just about regret. It’s about having the ability to look at the bigger picture and see oneself at different stages. What would you do if you could turn back time?
And remember, it’s never too late.