Career Mojo

by Casey Brown ’14

As far as I know, there’s a secret to success, and you probably won’t like it: You’re not going to find success on TigerTracks—or any other job board, for that matter.

shutterstock_150515870“Success” won’t be posted on UCAN or Idealist, and it won’t be handed to you in a flyer, at the interview, or on the first day on the job. (If it were, wouldn’t that be great?)

I’d like to be so bold as to pose a new definition of success that isn’t about landing a job; it’s about believing that the job you will do is the job you should be doing. In other words, success must come from you, and the support—whether from family, professors, or career counselors—is what will help you to get there.

There are some difficult steps along the way, the first of which is to know thyself. You might not be visiting the oracle at Delphi, even though having your future told might be nice in an age of endless options. As entrepreneur Bo Bennett explains: “Success is not what you have, but who you are.”

Who am I? How’d I get here? Okay, Descartes, relax. There are some modern day tools that will help you bypass the existential crisis. Many of these, from Strong Interest Inventory to the StrengthsFinder, can help you gain perspective on all those hidden talents you may not have realized you had. What could be better?

Are you “The Inspirer?” “The Executive?” “The Scientist?” Myers Briggs, also available at Career Services can help you find out.

Of course, everyone has a pretty good sense of what they are good at. But finding out more, you might gain a language for talking about your abilities—and how that can translate into your own personal definition of success.

But for anyone who has taken the SAT, you know there’s only so much multiple choice can say. The next step is getting to know you. Listen to your tendencies. Do you like risk or stability? High energy tasks or a steady pace? Engaging with new people or working with a small, tight group?

This streamlines right into step two: know thy options.

It’s like an exit on an airplane: look for a job “keeping in mind that it might be behind you.” And knowing your options has a lot to do with discovering them. Your success story isn’t out there waiting to fall in your lap, and it’s not going to come buzzing to your doorstep on an Amazon delivery drone.

Once you know a little more about your interests, let that lead you to talk to alumni or professors, try a Princeternship, read more about your interests. Maybe you’ll find, refine, or redefine your idea of success along the way.