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Dean’s Desk: Change Your Trajectory

Dean’s Desk: Change Your Trajectory

There is a pretty big difference between a job and a career.

A job is what a person does to make a living in the present day. Careers, on the other hand, are what we do with our professional lives.

The Wall Street Journal published two items that show the difference between them. First, “Private Sector Posts Another Month of Employment Growth” was on WSJ.com on May 2. Automated Data Processing, a payroll firm doubling as an economic research data source, reported that “firms across the country added 204,000 workers last month.”

This number was almost 10% higher than expected, and the sixth straight month of job growth of over 200,000 positions. In all, the news was very good.

The May 3 print edition gives a bit of the backstory. While the U.S. unemployment rate is an admirably low 4.1%, the article “Right to a Job Comes with a Catch” notes that the 4.1% is actually 6.6 million people.

Dean Tim Blumentritt

Interim Dean Tim Blumentritt, Ph.D.

Further, the 4.1% figure does not include 1) 5.1 million people who are not officially in the workforce yet would want a job and 2) 5.0 million more people who work part-time but want full-time work.

What this tells me is that while the job market at this particular time is really quite strong, there are a huge number of people who want more.

It’s striking that we examine jobs rather than careers. Careers reports, as opposed to jobs reports, would trace outlooks and potentials. Instead of looking at data focused on moments in time, career reports would show gauges of movement in peoples’ professional trajectories. They would include data on potential for raises rather than salaries, promotions rather than appointments, increases in skills and capabilities rather than demographics.

This is where education plays an enormous role.

When I was just beginning my own professional life, fresh out of college, a mentor told me something that drives me to this day. She said that the first 40 hours that you work are for your employer. By taking a job, you agreed to perform a given set of activities for a stated package of compensation and benefits. If you complete the 40 hours, and the employers pays you, then the deal is square at that point. The employer should not ask for any more of your time or effort, and, likewise, you should expect nothing more than the pay. No promotions, no advancement, nothing.

Where you earn promotions and advancement is after those first 40 hours. Once you decide to pursue the above and beyond, the most important decision you will make is how to spend those extra hours. For many people, simply spending more time at work just isn’t an option, due to limits on overtime, family responsibilities, or countless other reasons. People with dead-end jobs, with jobs that don’t match their interests, or jobs that can’t possible pay them living wages really shouldn’t dedicate even more time to them. These people need to do something different, not more of the same.

Here’s where professional education kicks in. Professional certifications and designations can change the trajectories of a career in meaningful ways. A person with only a high school degree can become a health care professional in a matter of months. A person who scrambles through a series of dead-end jobs can be transformed into a paralegal. A person who likes computers but lacks the formal training required on job applications can become a network operator through Cisco certifications.

At the College of Continuing and Professional Education, we are ready to help you make those hours you dedicate to your career, rather than your job, as meaningful and impactful as can possibly be. Please get in touch with us.

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