Landing a Job: 9 Things I Wish I Learned in School

Landing a Job: 9 Things I Wish I Learned in School

December 18, 2013 by

The new year is just around the corner and it might be time for a new job or a first job in church communication. We’re launching a series focused on that journey—landing a job. We’ll talk about the process of finding work in a church, what to expect, how to prepare for an interview and more. Today we’ll hear from a pro about what he wishes he learned in school.

Hindsight is 20/20. We’ve heard it before but I’m not sure the underlying truth has actually been learned. Ultimately, there’s no way for us to predict what’s going to happen before an event. But after an event we know. In order for us to understand what could happen (and how to react appropriately), we must learn from those who’ve experienced it.

I remember sitting and listening to my grandfather (a man of few words). He always seemed so old but his wisdom gave me pause. It’s because he had 20/20 vision as he looked back on his life.

In college I felt invincible. My optimism assured me I was going to succeed. Then reality slapped me around a bit. Several jobs later, almost three decades in the communications industry and a master’s degree from the school of hard knocks, I have 20/20 vision. I wish I had this vision back when I started my career.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful college life, extremely talented professors and I built the foundation that allowed me to achieve what I have. I’m sure the professors attempted to pour 20/20 wisdom into us. But perhaps because I felt unconquerable, it fell on deaf ears.

Here’s some of what I wish I learned in school:

1. We can decide what we’re known for.
In college I’m sure people knew me for random things. I wish I knew I could intentionally set huge career goals and effectively use my gifts, my time and my resources to focus on those goals and truly be known for achieving them.

2. Creativity can lead to loneliness.
Often in our attempt to find unique ideas, we push people away. Yet many creative ideas are discovered through team discussions.

3. It’s almost impossible to discover unique solutions.
Most writing/design block comes from the attempt at finding something “totally different.” Instead most great ideas stem from tweaking an existing idea. Also, remember that emulating is different than plagiarism. True creativity comes through the fusion between ideas, thoughts and designs. Your role is to bring them together. It’ll rarely feel unique; instead they’ll feel borrowed.

4. Humility and creativity should co-exist but seem to repel one another.
I’m not sure why, but in the agency world creative people often project superiority. Usually it’s to mask insecurities. Humble leaders are usually better valued in an organization.

5. Creative friends are incredibly rare.
Creativity is rare. True friendship is also rare. The combination of the two is almost impossible. If you discover a creative friend (or something close), nurture and protect that relationship. There’s something invaluable that a creative friendship can accomplish.

6. Knowing when to stop is critical.
We need to continue seeking solutions once we discover a good answer. But we need to know when to stop looking for better answers after we’ve discovered several. A truly creative person knows when to advance an idea.

7. Life is your new college. Keep learning.
Many people get their diploma and plateau instead of realizing it’s just a learning increment. There’s so much more we need to learn. It should be a lifelong obsession. If you don’t read and pursue ideas, you’re subtly saying you know everything.

8. You are never “above” a job.
It didn’t take long after college to realize I wasn’t going to get my dream job immediately. Instead, I realized that any job was better than no job. Once I started down my career path, I was always willing to do any job along the way. I’m always surprised at what I’ve learned from doing it.

9. Stop eating like you did in college.
(No explanation needed.)

Post By:

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is an author, speaker, and strategic communication catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention. He’s also the author of Be Known For Something. Mark is also the executive director of our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication.
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One Response to “Landing a Job: 9 Things I Wish I Learned in School”

  • Bettie
    January 17, 2015

    Mark, I appreciate the insight you shared on this article and was surprised that I could relate to nearly every point.

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