Careers vs. Jobs: A Career Takes Goal-Setting and Preparation

Mirror News Columnist

Is there a difference between a job and career? If so what is it? For that matter, is it all that important?

An old song says: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Or, if you don’t have the job you love—which, according to some, means it is a “career”—then, love the job you have so “the man” won’t fire you (or you quit before your first pay check.) The answer is in how you go about it. Is it truly all about love of work?

In one of his stand up comedy routines Chris Rock entertained his audience all the way to the bank with his discussion on a job versus a career. According to Rock, “people with careers need to keep their mouths shut in the presence of people with jobs.” It would seem the implication is that jobs are grunt work. However, it was his experience with the grunt work that gave him the material for his comedy routines. At the same time, for most of us, in or out of college, getting that first job is no joke.

Chad Austin, director of job placement at Henry Ford Community College, said the main obstacle with many of the students who come to him for job placement is that they have no idea what they want from their future employer/career beyond the paycheck. He said that without a planned job search, students are in an exercise which leads to settling for whatever happens to come along. Austin strongly advises students to get the basics accomplished before seeking any employment.

“Students need to understand that securing a job requires a strong investment and commitment on their part to research and learn about the job field he/she is choosing,” Austin said. “Before the job search, students need to complete an intensive self-evaluation. Following this evaluation, a student must then invest time in planning what objectives any given job will contribute to their long range objectives. First jobs may be establishing discipline and work ethic. Employers are looking for these attributes as much as they are looking for specific work skills.”

It is best to follow your interests, skills, and talents to find the career that will bring you success. Also, according to Austin, “a student must be nimble; willing to diversify and train to meet the needs of the job, and be ready for opportunities when they occur.”

This column will address the varying viewpoints of the “job versus career” discussion. Because people are not cookie-cutters or clones in skills and interest, no one plan fits all. Most labor experts support research and planning, and promote a good understanding of yourself, including your skills and interests. This preparation gives you a much better return on your time than simply covering the job market with resumes.

Readers are invited to write in or e-mail responses to this column. Describe your concerns regarding your choice of career and job search. In subsequent articles we may be able to help you develop your own personal working definition of “career” and “job.” In addition, I look forward to meeting the professionals and personnel in various fields, and will do my best to answer any questions you may have.

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