Do you have the wrong career or just the wrong job in your career?

Penelope Trunk examines that question in a recent post on her career coach blog.
Feb 15, 2014

First telling a story about how her 11-year-old son, with dreams of becoming a paleontologist, got scared when faced with what the job entails, Trunk details her answer to "Wrong job or wrong career? Here's how to tell":

(1) It’s the skills you use in your job that matters, not the industry you’re in. (2) Trends in an industry matter more than whether you like the industry now. (3) We don’t need a perfect job in order to be happy. We just need to be growing.

To read the full blog, CLICK HERE.

The opinions expressed by local bloggers are not necessarily shared by the Grand Haven Tribune or its employees. They are the sole opinion of the bloggers, who are not employed by or compensated by the Tribune.


Former Grandhavenite

As a young kid I wanted all of the standard "dream jobs" that a lot of kids want. I was going to be an astronaut, a firefighter, a video game developer, or a writer of some sort. Statistical modeling of the economy wasn't on my short list oddly enough. I couldn't make up my mind but adults always told me that I'd find a field I loved someday and that I should pursue my dreams. I never did manage to figure it out.

It took a long time but I finally learned that you're not defined as a person by the job that you do, and that most people don't love their jobs. You certainly don't need to love your job to lead a happy life. It's all about finding a way to support yourself so that you can pursue the things you really want on the side. I wish they'd tell you this when you're a young kid, but "Work to live, don't live to work" wouldn't be as inspiring as, "You can do anything if you follow your dreams!" etc. Even as a kid I noticed that the population didn't consist solely of pro athletes, fighter pilots, movie stars etc.

As far as those dream jobs I'm no firefighter but I once got to put out a fire in the back yard, although in all fairness I also started that fire by being dumb with fireworks. I'm no astronaut although I'm widely considered a space cadet. I write for fun all the time but fortunately don't have to grind out a living at it. I never got a job developing games, although I've made a couple small games and other apps for iOS and Android mobile devices on the side. A couple partners and I are working on a more ambitious game but progress is slow as we all have day jobs. If we ever manage to hit an app or a game out of the park sales-wise or get a good income stream going through in-app purchases I might be able to quit my day job to focus on that. In the mean time it sure is nice to know that I'm not going to be out on the street even if we never make a dime.


It seems lots and lots of people are thinking they are in a "Wrong Career" or "Wrong Job." We should analyze what is wrong. I have had well in excess of over 50 employers in my lifetime. I can only speak for me and maybe others will agree. I was a volunteer fireman. I loved that job - but it did not pay living wages. Was member on various boards and loved it. Worked as an ASE master technician and loved the work but hated a few major things I mention later. Was also a journeyman skilled trades in tool & die, machine building. What I dislike and dislike extremely to this day is not the work I have done. It was and is the workaholic mindset every job is an emergency mentality of bosses and employers. 50 hour weeks with only 2 weeks avg vacation packages is detrimental to one personal health and family relationships. European Union has federalized labor laws mandating 8 weeks vacation for everybody. They have published why they do that-but the stories get squashed by industrial titans. I have made a personal vow in my early 20's I will never sacrifice family time for employer mandated overtime. This has resulted in me getting fired, getting into heated arguments with bosses and vice presidents. If I wanted time off to go to a church retreat and the boss would say "were working Saturdays or find another job" I would walk off on the spot pack up $30 grand in personal tools and hit the road. 32 to 40 hours a week is all any employer will get out of me. They can have an occasional 55 but only once every 3 weeks. So maybe readers can write and figure out what my problem is? Lost count at 50 W-2 Forms. I will tell ya - bosses cuss under their breath at me when I tell them I made a promise to my kids to be their for their baseball games. So is a person like me in a "wrong career" or "wrong country" ? But I will tell you this. People say my wife has a happy glow on her face. My kids aren't perfect but they have never been in jail and they get invited to lots of activities and I told they are polite and joy to have over for visits. But every employer tells me "you have an attitude problem! Mr. Zack"

Former Grandhavenite

Don't think for a second that actually wanting to have some sort of life-work balance is having a bad attitude despite what any manager says. It's completely disgraceful that we pretend to be a country that values hard work, yet we tax actual work at a much higher rate than manipulating the financial system to gain huge profits. I worked on an assembly line making auto parts for awhile and it was completely awful, physically grueling, very tedious, and of course it being West Michigan our plant wasn't unionized. The managers were extremely arbitrary in their dealings with us, pay extremely low, we wouldn't even know whether we had to run the line on Saturday until midnight Friday as our shift ended. They gamed the system by keeping hours just low enough to not pay benefits despite being on our feet all day and doing lots of repetitive motions.

When you come home from a long, long, day of that sh$t and you know you have to do it 4-5 more times before your day off because you only earn 3 hours of vacation time every two weeks, and sick days are unpaid and risk getting you fired, you very quickly lose tolerance for right-wing talking heads saying how "big labor" and "union bosses" are trying to destroy free enterprise in the country. The cold, hard truth that people like Rick Snyder don't understand is that these battles have already been fought and won by the working people of Michigan. In the Flint sit-down strike people literally fought and in some cases died at the hands of thugs hired by the companies for our rights as workers and as human beings. Whole concepts like overtime pay, weekends, safety equipment, not having 10-year-olds running a circular saw, etc were not gained by the wealthy suddenly deciding that they wanted to do something nice for the rest of us.

Michigan should be extremely proud of its history in the labor movement. The very creation of the Fair Labor Standards Act was a direct result of people being willing to fight for the then-radical idea that employers needed to treat their employees as actual human beings. My advice would be to never let the ba$tards see you sweat, and never let them make you feel like you're some outcast who wants preferential treatment. They're experts at trying to make people feel crazy, alone, wrong, and scared for asserting their human and labor rights. I know from experience that it's a frequently deployed tool by bad managers, but every time they tried to paint it that way I reminded myself that I'm not the radical in this scenario- I'm the one advocating that we as a company actually obey federal law by paying folks the overtime we owe them. Unless you're FLSA-exempt they literally have no choice in the matter although they usually hope their employees haven't done their homework and sadly are right most of the time.

Nowadays I'm paid fairly well to give wealthy megacorps a .00001% better view of what's going to happen with the economy so they can get the drop on some other wealthy megacorp, but I never for a second delude myself into thinking that I'm making the world a better place or producing an actual product. I'm just a servant of the folks at the top of the pyramid and I'll be the best servant that I can be in advancing their interests, but I sure don't have a high opinion of them or their interests. Honestly the assembly line job was a hell of a lot harder both from a mental and physical standpoint. Basically the worse and lower-paying someone's job is the more respect I have for them as a human being. Every piece of economic data I look at I try to keep in mind that somebody out there somewhere is grinding it out doing a job every day.

There's just about nothing more infuriating than knowing you're working your tail off but someone else is getting all the benefits because hey, the business of America is business and the freer the market the freer the people, right? I loved the 'freedom' to only have two three-minute bathroom breaks, and I was extremely grateful to live in a free enough society that my boss could order me to go over to her house and shovel out all the dogs%it from her back yard during the workday (I wish this was parody!) Meanwhile if you make the mistake of collecting the social security from the system that you've yourself paid into, or go on disability leave because your boss wanted you to reach down into the machine rather than wait for Maintenance to get there, folks like Mitt Romney will be glad to tell you that you're not taking any responsibility for your life and should become a maker instead of a taker. It would all be hilarious if it weren't so tragic.

As you can tell I'm not a big fan of our current economic or political system, but unfortunately it is the game that's being played so I play it as well as I can. I'm an 'entrepreneur' in the sense that I sell a few small pieces of software on the side, but I sure don't think that makes me somehow better than anyone else, and even I know politicians are completely and utterly full of sh$t with their worshipful attitude toward entrepreneurs. I've always been a socialist on some level, but didn't really develop the words and the ideas to understand why until I'd spent so much time around all the worst aspects of our authoritarian brand of capitalism.

Whoa, I didn't realize this had turned into such a dissertation although I've gained a better understanding of how I got here politically through putting this together, so thanks for the opportunity whether you even read it or not. On a more practical level it seems like 3D printing has a lot of overlap with the tool and die industry, and it's fast growing so that might be a field to check into. Every time 3D printer tech advances with the ability to work some new material, another industry will probably invest in the equipment and they'll certainly need folks who know how to work them. Hang in there.

Tri-cities realist

You will let us all know BEFORE the economy tanks again, right?

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