The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

181: Career Transitions: Who You Were As a Student & Who You Are Today

September 05, 2023 John Neral Season 3
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
181: Career Transitions: Who You Were As a Student & Who You Are Today
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine going back in time to meet your student self. What advice would you give them? Today, we're doing just that in a riveting conversation about the stark differences between our student selves and our professional selves. We delve into the eight key contrasts, from the shift in purpose and goals to the evolution of rewards. With a good dose of nostalgia, we unravel how the knowledge and skills we acquired in our youth influence our professional journey.

Transitioning from a student to an employee is a significant step, and we're here to guide you through it. We'll share insights on the importance of feedback in the workplace, how to ask the right questions, and why you should take charge of your own career development. You'll hear a hilarious anecdote about career day and how it's changed over the years. This episode is all about leveraging the skills and knowledge from our academic years to navigate our careers more effectively. So join us on this enlightening journey as we connect the dots between our past and our future.

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Speaker 1:

Hey friends, if you feel like you're missing out on the back-to-school vibe and looking for some professional development, I'm doing a live webinar this Thursday, september 7th, at noon Eastern, called Three Strategic Steps to Lend your Dream Job Before the Year Ends. This is a free webinar for anyone looking to find a new job, whether it's inside your organization or at a new company. The three steps I'm going to talk to you about will help you have greater intention and clarity as you navigate this ever-changing job market to position you more strategically, increase your visibility and leverage. Three strategies I know work. You can visit my website at johnnarallcom forward slash webinar. You can check the show notes or my LinkedIn to secure your spot today. And if you can't attend live, no worries, register anyway, as a replay will be available for all registrants. See you then. As a former school teacher and educational administrator, this time of year always gets me nostalgic and reminiscing about what it was like to go back to school. Whether I was gathering all of my school supplies, including that new trapper keeper I had to have, or setting up my classroom as a teacher, the start of the school year is a magical time. So here's my question how much different is your professional self from your student self of years ago. In this episode, I'm going to take you on a walk down memory lane as we explore eight differences between your student self and your professional self, as you build your mid-career GPS to whatever is next for you and your career. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is episode 181 of the mid-career GPS podcast. I'm your host, john Narrell. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. Now, if you have children who are either in school or college, you've probably spent the last few weeks getting them ready and dealing with all of the stresses and drama of settling into the new school year. Now, if you're new to my podcast, you may not know that I had a 25-year career in education. That took me from the middle school mathematics classroom of 14 years and then 11 years as an administrator working for one of the most popular urban school districts, a state superintendent and an educational nonprofit where I served as a training and staffing director. So there are some interesting parallels to discuss today between who we were as a student and who we are today as an adult, be it as an employee or as a business owner. What I want you to get from this episode is an opportunity to distinguish between who you were and who you are now, and where you can leverage your skills as an adult learner to navigate your mid-career GPS to whatever is next for you and your career. So, to begin, let's acknowledge that there's a huge difference between the purpose and goals you had as a student and what they are now See. As students, the primary goal is to gain knowledge, skills and qualifications through education. The focus is on personal development and preparing for our future career, and our goal as students was to absorb as much knowledge and skills as possible. But as employees, as business owners, as leaders, the focus shifts, and that focus is now all about contributing to a company's objectives and fulfilling specific job responsibilities. The primary goal here is to perform tasks that contribute to the success of the organization and to do them with such a high level of quality that it gets you recognized and rewarded as your career progresses. Your goal here is to be valuable. Think about that. Where are you valuable to your organization currently? It's one of the questions I initially asked my one-on-one coaching clients and admittedly, they have some trouble answering that. They might list off a series of job responsibilities that they do, but they don't hone into exactly why they are valuable. Now, yes, those skills certainly provide value, but it's who you are and what you do and how well you do it that makes you a valuable asset to that organization. So today I'm going to walk you through eight differences between our student self and our adult self, and what I want you to think about here is where are the differences and where are they similar? So number one is the difference between how we learn versus how we apply. So, as students, we absorb the knowledge because we're engaged in classroom discussions, research and coursework, and in that, as we follow a specific curricula that is determined by the district or the school where you're attending, there are certain things that you do in order to acquire that knowledge. Now, one of the things and I don't like using this word, but one of the things I admittedly just hated as a student was any kind of group work, because in a group, I always felt like I was the one that did the most work, because I didn't want to get a bad grade. So if you're with me on that, know that I hear you when I see you, because it's just what teacher would say oh, it's time to do a group work, and I'd be like, oh right, so if you're with me on this one, I get it. But as employees, we are tasked with applying the knowledge and skills that we have acquired. That's going to help us solve a real-world problem that contributes to the company's operations and growth. Think about this for a minute. Think about your own role in that company and think of the people you work with. How well do you all apply that knowledge you've gained in school, the technical expertise that you have, but also the organizational knowledge that you have by being there for a while, and how are you applying it? And additionally, how are you applying that knowledge that you demonstrate on a consistent basis of high quality that makes you exceptionally valuable to that organization? The second difference here is about results. So for students and employees, results absolutely matter, but the difference here is the reward for those results. Come on, who didn't get excited when they got a sticker? Could you imagine if your supervisor or your boss today handed you a sticker and was like, hey, great job. He'd be like, no, I'd rather have a bonus. So, as students. Results could be celebrated either at school. They might be celebrated at home with some kind of incentive or reward, and as students progress through the system and they make a decision to go to college. One of those rewards be it either academic or athletic or both are scholarships and employees. Our rewards are similar but different. Yeah, sure, we all want that five-star rating, we want that great review on our performance appraisal, but we also wanted that compensation bump as well. Where are your results of the work that you're doing on a daily basis? In today's job market, that result may simply mean you are gainfully employed and you don't have to worry about losing your job. That is huge right now. Let's not underestimate that. But if you feel like you're underutilized, you feel like you're undervalued, the results and the recognition may not align. So think about those results. The third difference here to examine is about structure. Students are beholden to an absolutely rigorous structure and schedule that is determined by the district. When I was teaching, I always said that I had to keep thinking of things in 43-minute intervals. Strong class got done, 43 minutes, 3 minutes to change classes. Next group came in. It's just how things work. But for employees, you operate within the structure of a workday and the daily responsibilities and tasks that are established by somebody who is managing or leading you. Schedules vary. If we've learned one thing and we know we learned a lot of things from the pandemic but if we've learned one thing, it's that some of us do really well in a remote working environment and some of us don't Think about this If you were a hardworking student, you were more than likely going to put in whatever extra time and work you needed to get that good grade and make sure that project was representative of your brand as a student. Things don't change typically as adults. If you were that student, you are more than likely going the extra mile, putting in the extra time, doing in the extra work, because you care so strongly about your brand and how that's represented. The fourth thing is about responsibility, and this is an interesting one. It has been my experience that when students place a high responsibility on themselves whether or not that was imposed by their adults guardians, family that that same level of responsibility often transfers to their work ethic when you think about who you were as a student. So for me, when I was going through school, I was a solid B, b plus, a minus student, I worked my butt off and that was the best I could do. When I got to graduate school, I excelled at a much higher level, I think in part because I was much more interested and invested in the course material, and I wanted to make sure I did really well. So think about that for yourselves. Where does your sense of responsibility or work ethic come from, and how, if any, is it different now that you're an adult as opposed to when you were a student? The next one is another big one. It's about supervision and autonomy. We know as employees and if you're a business owner like myself, you have far more autonomy than you did as a student and as employees, even with a micromanager, there is time when you are expected to complete a task or assignment without direct oversight or supervision. For students, this often isn't the case. There is far more guidance and directions from teachers and professors who are modeling processes and procedures to help them complete a task, and, as someone who worked in training and development, it was always important for me to ensure that people had the necessary training and tools to be successful, but there was also an expectation that a large part of their learning would be self led or directed as they gained confidence, and confidence with those skills or tasks. Are you someone that needs a little more structure, a little more supervising? And if you've recently moved into a new role, it's important to see here that you should have a little more oversight in that new role. If you've been put on a performance improvement plan, you should absolutely expect more supervision and oversight because of whatever reasons led up to you going on that pip. So supervision and autonomy again. Some do great without a whole lot of it and others need that kind of structure. The next one is feedback. Students get a lot of feedback. Employees don't. If you're an employee who craves feedback, I am willing to bet that as a student, you valued that feedback from your teachers and professors. You wanted to know how well you were doing, why you were doing well when you had questions. You wanted that immediate feedback. But as employees, we don't get that same level of feedback. And if you're not getting that feedback, what I want to offer you today is that it is your responsibility to ask for that feedback and help your manager or supervisor be better at delivering it. You talked before on the pod, where you don't want to go to your manager or your supervisor and say, hey, how am I doing? It's too broad and vague of a question the more specific you can get with that question. In asking things like, hey, at today's meeting, how well did I lead that meeting, based on what your expectations are? Or, given the recent project that we had, how well did I do managing expectations with the team to ensure that we came in under budget and delivered on time, those questions and questions that you will come up with that are more specific will serve you far better in you getting the feedback you need, versus feedback you just want. Now, when we talk about career development this one, this one I had some fun planning for you because in school we have career day. Remember career day? Here's a funny and true story. I say funny in air quotes because I'm sure my friend, if she's listening to this episode, certainly didn't think it was funny. At the time when I was teaching, I asked a friend of mine to come and present a career day and the students were horrible to her. I felt so bad and embarrassed that I had asked a friend of mine to take time out of her busy work day to come and speak to my students and they were just awful to her Right, because in middle school career day is kind of hard. You start thinking about things but you're not taking it really seriously. I took her to a really nice dinner as a thank you to make up for that and she swore to me she would never do career day again. Well, I got my comeuppance because several years ago, after I had launched my business full time, a local school here had put out a request for people to come to career day and I thought I'll go ahead and do that. And I went to a local middle school and I got to say I would never do that again for a middle school. If a high school wanted me to come to career day and speak, I would certainly do that, or a college even, but for middle school, no, I just think it's way too young. And I remember being in that classroom and thinking, yeah, I don't miss being in the classroom. My career had certainly transitioned. Career development is hard for students because there's so many options and we place a lot of pressure on students at 16, 17, 18 years of age to identify a college or university they're going to attend and think that they've got their career path all figured out, and social media doesn't make it any easier for them to make that decision either. As employees, you are 100% responsible for your career and your development, and I appreciate you taking time to listen to this podcast as part of your career development. But remember your career is fluid. You may progress along a given path and then pivot, and progress along that path and pivot again, or an opportunity comes up that you decide to seize and take advantage of. Remember you are 100% responsible for your career and your professional development. And it leads me to this last one, and that is about having a long-term perspective. As students, they work towards a degree or qualification that's going to impact their future opportunities, but after high school or college, we move into a role, gain proficiency and excel at a job, only to wonder what's going to be next. Some may pursue an advanced degree, while others look to move up the proverbial corporate ladder. For employees, the long-term perspective is often do great work, make an impact, earn enough money and save enough money to retire Wherever you're at. As you're listening to this episode, what kind of long-term perspective do you have when you think about your career, unless you are one step away from retirement? What I want to offer you is that you should be thinking of your career like a game of chess. You should be thinking at least two, if not three, moves forward. That's why the next job you're going to apply to is a stepping stone to something else, unless you've identified that position as the legacy position, where you're going to hang out in and you're going to stay there until you retire. Your long-term perspective is key and vital to your overall success. So, in summary, while both student and employee roles involve learning and growth, they differ significantly in terms of purpose, responsibility, expectations and context in which they operate. This whole transition from being a student of however many years you attend school to an employee often involves applying skills and knowledge that you've acquired during your education and putting them into practical work settings. As I say time and time again, it is all about how you show up. So, when you think about how you want to show up and you're thinking about navigating toward whatever is next for you in your career, here's one way I can help you. I'm doing a free webinar this Thursday, september 7th, called Three Strategic Steps to Land your Dream Job Before the Year Ends. Check the show notes, check my LinkedIn. Go to my website, johnnarrellcom. Forward slash webinar register. Save your seat. If you can't attend live, you're going to get the replay. I guarantee you that these three strategic steps are going to give you greater clarity and intention as you navigate to whatever is next for you in your career. So, my friends, remember this we build our mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple Podcasts. Visit johnnarrellcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you in your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at John Darrell Coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters. Thank you.

Differences Between Student and Professional Self
Student to Employee Transition