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Career Tips

Knowing that many of our readers are trying to decide what careers to embark upon, Vertical Thought asked for suggestions from those who have recently found jobs about how they decided on a career or got the job. Here is some information that can be of help when you make these important decisions.

photoPursuing a career in Web development and design
Brett Washington, 27, Web Design Coordinator, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

When I was young, like most kids I had many dreams about what I was going to be when I grew up. I remember early on wanting to become a soldier in the U.S. military like my father and uncles. Thankfully, God had already made that decision for me.

Throughout junior high and high school, I explored various careers. My thought was to find a career where I could use all of my strengths and just have fun doing the work.

I had a pretty strong understanding of mathematics, so initially I thought I wanted to get into some type of engineering—more specifically, aeronautical engineering. I loved planes and thought I would move forward into a career of designing planes for the military, but again there seemed to be a moral dilemma with that career choice.

I also loved to draw and illustrate. I took several drafting classes in high school and had the opportunity to be mentored by an architect who volunteered time at my school.

He took me by his office and showed me the many things he and other architects do. While architecture interested me, I came to feel that it wasn't right for me as a career path. I thought I would eventually get bored with it.

Toward my final years of high school and into my first few years of college, I began to take a lot of computer programming classes, and here is where I was first introduced to Web development and design.

I have a friend who used to work as a systems analyst for 3COM in Santa Clara, California. One Sunday while visiting with him, he showed me a Web site he was building for his family to help track their family history. Looking back on it now, it was a pretty basic Web site. I asked him to show me how he set up everything so I could do the same.

As soon as I got home, I registered an account with geocities.com (which was not a part of Yahoo back then) and began to build my first personal Web site. I convinced my mom to buy me a scanner, and when I got it, I scanned and posted almost a hundred pictures on my newly built site.

I had no concept of bandwidth and file size or the many practices that Web designers use to make Web sites user friendly, less resource intensive and more appealing for the audience. So I began to look at Web sites all over the Internet and gauge things that I liked and did not like about them. I would bookmark all of the sites that I liked because of their design and then check the source code (view >> source) to figure out how they were built.

Obviously I could only learn so much by looking at other developers' source code, so I began to read on the subject and changed my major in college from biochemistry to computer information systems. Learning to construct and design Web sites and then implementing what I had learned started to become really fun and a passion for me. Once I had found work that really did not feel like work at all, I knew that was the career path for me.

photoHow I chose my career in marketing
Sharon Treybig Babcock, 31, Trade Marketing Development Manager, General Mills, Inc.

The often-given advice to choose a college major and career that align with one's interests seemed obvious, but it wasn't particularly helpful to me in my first year of college because I was interested in so many subjects!

More certain of areas I preferred to avoid, I've sometimes joked about choosing a marketing major because it required the fewest higher math and science courses! I figured I'd prefer any courses to physics or calculus, and remarkably, though I knew virtually nothing about them beforehand, economics and business law became two of my favorite subjects!

By my senior year, I was confident I had chosen the right major, but unclear in which industry or type of company I should seek employment. I sincerely prayed, "Father, you know what kind of work you've equipped me to do and what I like doing, but I don't know where a job that fits all this might be. Please make it clear to me."

I signed up through the campus career services office to interview with several employers. The first company made an offer several weeks prior to my other scheduled interviews. I wondered if it would be wise to accept so early in my search, but the job did appear to be an excellent fit—an answered prayer, I now believe—and, as my father pointed out, if this job didn't match my skills and expectations I could always transition into another.

My advice to others is: After seeking God's guidance with the faith that He will respond, consider your talents and interests as well as dislikes, and keep an open mind regarding industries and functions because your perceptions regarding them may be limited.

Consumer packaged goods and sales didn't initially excite me—I wasn't sure what the first meant and the second evoked images of annoying cold callers. I interviewed because of the job description, surprised that it was sales at all. I now reflect on a satisfying series of positions with this same company, a career brimming with activities I enjoy such as writing, speaking, teaching and learning, problem solving, leading teams and competing in a good-natured way. VT



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