By Kirk Hazlett
To say that this summer has been “different” would be the grandest understatement in the history of the spoken word.
Margaret (my wife) and I are in the final throes of building/buying a new (our first) home…in Florida (a new state for us).
This will now make seven states and, counting the U.S., of course, three countries that we have lived in either permanently (jobs) or temporarily (assignments). Not bad for 45 years of marriage!
Seems like my entire life has been about moving and changing. Just growing up, my family moved SEVEN times in the SAME town! Then I meandered through THREE colleges in pursuit of my first undergraduate degree.
The weird thing…at least with most of it…is that I/we somehow came out a little bit better each time…reassignments…promotions…expanded job responsibilities…good stuff.
I’ve tried over the past decade-plus of teaching at Curry College and elsewhere to help my COM/PR “disciples” and others recognize and accept that, in order to progress in one’s chosen career field, change is often necessary. It’s not likely to just happen, though. You have to make it happen.
Yes…it’s possible to succeed in one place in one job. But I would argue that this is becoming more and more the exception rather than the rule.
The idea, at least in my opinion, is that you should be open to and be willing to explore new opportunities and, if you’re not finding anything locally, to either reassess your goals or expand your parameters.
This is something I don’t think we do a very good job of as educators/advisors. We present “life” as a neatly-organized textbook, with each chapter logically building to a tidy conclusion. The end result is that our students blithely walk off the stage at Commencement with a diploma and the expectation that everything will fall neatly into place.
Sorry, my friends. Doesn’t usually happen this way.
Hoops…lots of hoops…have to be jumped through, some of them burning rings that offer a bit more of a challenge. You have to believe in yourself and your ability to get through them with minimal damage. You can, though, so charge forth!
More than anything, you have to explore your options when it comes to your career. Go? Or stay? For PR folks, in-house or agency? What industry? What are the opportunities for professional growth? The list is long.
And here’s where you initiate your networking campaign…reaching out to and connecting with other professionals both locally and around the country/world. Find out what’s “out there” and weigh the positives and negatives. If at all possible, visit those places (cities/countries) that you think sound promising to make sure the “vibes” are there. Trust me…you don’t want to uproot and relocate to someplace that you dislike from the get-go.
For us, it was Seattle…really like the city…would love to visit again. But we made three trips from Honolulu to Seattle in the hopes that something would “click.” Job opportunities? Yes. Reasonably affordable? Yes. But we just didn’t love it. So we came back to Boston where we’ve now been, this time, for 20-plus years (first time was for 12 years), and both of us have done very well professionally.
It was a gamble…as my former boss in Hawaii said as we were leaving, “I hope Boston is everything that you think it’s going to be.” And it has been.
We’re all faced with choices. We come to the point where changing jobs…or changing professions…or changing locations is the wisest thing for to do.
That’s the thing about success…it’s a “moving” experience.
[This post first appeared on Kirk’s blog A Professor’s Thoughts.]
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, recently retired as Associate Professor of Communication at Curry College. Before moving into academia, Kirk practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years. He is Co-Chair of the PRSA College of Fellows Mentoring Committee and has served as a member of PRSA’s national Board of Directors, as well as in other leadership positions. Kirk was inducted into the College of Fellows in 2009.