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March 18, 2009

Career Day? Career Help?

March 18. Day 261.

I'm speaking at my high school's career day.

Let me repeat that.

I. Am speaking at my high school's career day.

Yes. That chick in her nth year of grad school, who does do occasional freelance work but is essentially careerless (let's call it "careerfree," shall we?)... is going to talk at career day.

You see, the alumni coordinator called me today and said they were looking for someone to round out the panel. An Exhibit X. Basically, someone who could describe "what happens when you let grad school happen to you." I perked up. Interesting... She continued: "Many students are actually quite intrigued by the profile of the conflicted young academic who is defined by uncertainty at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Faced with either too few or too many options upon finishing the degree. You know the type. Seeing that you're about to become a full-time blogger on food stamps once you graduate, I thought you'd have many valuable lessons for our students," she suggested.

No silly, that's not what happened.

I emailed her. I told her I'm a grad student and writer/blogger, and asked if I could speak. I imagine that while a lot of kids will want to hear the doctors, lawyers and athletes, maybe there's still someone out there who likes words? books? writing? reading? dreaming? Fingers crossed...

Gained I: A chance to pay it forward. Have you ever spoken at career day? What was it like?

Speaking of careers...

I asked for something else today, more self-focused, also career oriented. Coincidence?

I emailed a couple of friends with a very specific strategy question -- because they're much more experienced than I am after working in the real world the the years I've been in grad school. Things like performance reviews, networking, leveraging opportunities, making yourself indispensable, buying low and selling high, the pros and cons of learning to play your boss's sport, the inns and outs of MBAs are all abstractions to me. Academia has its share of politics, but I've kept away. These friends, however, are living this stuff. Not only do they know how to work a room -- their jobs depend on it. So, having someone to turn to when I have a question like this is immensely valuable.

They replied immediately, with different angles and approaches -- I'm so grateful. Thanks!!! I'll let you now how it turns out!!


Gained II: Amazing career advice -- better than any book or website could ever teach me. Their wisdom will give me tools to avoid certain mistakes and make my way through the professional labyrinth, as soon as I start hunting for the cheese...
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