Should I Learn To Code?

Should I Learn To Code?

"Should I learn to code?"

Yes. 

I don't always say Yes to "should I learn" questions. I'm pro-learning in general, but there are times when, because we're talking about your career plans, you should focus your learning efforts on one thing over another. In the case of computer science, and programming/coding in particular, I can safely and assuredly say that this is a skill you should learn. 

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The Dark Side of Stability

The Dark Side of Stability

"So I think I have three options," he told me. "I can start my own company now, or I can go work for an established startup, maybe that has some stable funding, or I can get a job in corporate. What do you think I should do?" He had just spent the last 10 minutes telling me about his volunteer work with a local entrepreneurship organization, his desire to travel, and his participation in the campus incubator program. His passion was pretty clear: this was a man born to start something. So that's what I said.  

"Oh thank God. I really thought you were going to tell me to go work in Corporate." 

Why did he think that? Because that is what most well-meaning, middle-aged people (Just for the record, I am NOT middle aged...) would probably say. They might say - "Build your resume!", or "What about this grad program at XYZ Bank?" or "Your cousin just got a job at this consulting firm". They might encourage a young college grad to think about his student loans and go out and get a great job that will help him save up some money (because after all, the real estate market you know...). But there is a dark side to choosing that road. 

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Don't Have a Career Plan?

Don't Have a Career Plan?

"I sometimes wish I had a plan. I see my friends who are my age and are graduating with their PhD or their MD or their JD and I think "Fuuuuuuuu$!....", my 26 year old client agonized. Just two weeks later, I met with a recent graduate who lamented, "I feel like I'm the only one of my peers without a plan. I just want to know where I'm going."

I get a gut-punch feeling when I hear this because I remember it. I didn't have a plan, either, and those days of feeling lost in life's outer space really sucked. It's lonely out there. 

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Study This to Be Employable

Study This to Be Employable

"What classes should I take this year?" 

"What kind of education should a young person have to be employable?"

"What skills will get me a job?"

These are all questions I hear in my office and in my inbox regularly. And there are lots of ways to answer this question. I can encourage you to study what you are interested in (and you should do that), and I can use employment statistics to tell you which majors have the highest employment rate or earn the biggest salary. But there are themes in education that I think will serve you well to be part of the new working world. Because an education needs to not just get you a job in 4 years, it needs to build you up as a functioning member of society and the global economy for the next 50 years. So kids. Here's what you should study this year. 

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Social Media: Let Them Find You

Social Media: Let Them Find You

"I googled him but nothing came up," Lisa said to me, "isn't that weird?". 

"Yes." I had to agree. 

She was serving on the hiring committee for a job in our office, and wanted to learn more about one of the candidates. And I get it, with all the hype about your personal information and privacy issues and how all of your material could be used by corporations or employers, one possible reaction to all of this is to hide out in a digital bunker on lockdown. But Lisa's impression of this invisible candidate and his digital quietude was not good. "I mean, he doesn't have a social media presence. Like, at all," she said with disbelief. 

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Career Advising Appointments are Available!

Career Advising Appointments are Available!

Excellent news, you can now book career advising appointments via CareerJanet. It's all fancy-pants and automated and super-duper easy, so if you have a career dilemma you want to talk about, get in there! Click here to book an appointment. 

Topics we can cover: 

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Show Me the Money

Show Me the Money

I write a lot about finding your passion, conquering fear, and doing something different to pave your own way in the world. And these are still the most important topics when we talk about career. But, you may be thinking, what about the money? Because once you've figured out the passion piece, you still need to earn the cashola. Right? Right. And there's a lot to think about when you're managing all that money you're about to be earning, from before you accept the job, to when you're well on your way. 

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How to Ask for a Reference

How to Ask for a Reference

I got an email recently on a topic that always makes me cringe. This one, from an HR representative at a large organization, wrote to say, "What are we teaching job candidates these days about asking for references?" Her complaints were valid: in her experiences, she found that the contacts that job candidates provided as a reference were unprepared, didn't know the candidate, and had not been expecting a call from HR to check in on the job applicant. Don't let this be you! Here's what you can do to make sure that your references support your candidacy for the job you want, and don't detract from it. 

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The Worst Thing I've Ever Done

The Worst Thing I've Ever Done

I submitted a resume with the wrong dates on it. I'm a career counselor, my whole JOB is resumes, I look at hundreds of them, and am adept at picking out a misplaced period or a misaligned bullet point and the best word to start a sentence with, but I submitted a resume to a job I was really excited about with major errors on it. The difference on my incorrect resume dates was a whole year, which effectively misrepresented my level of experience for the position I applied for. Even worse, I caught the error in formal government paperwork for the new position after I was hired, necessitating an incredibly embarrassing email exchange with an entire team of people, including human resources, lawyers, and my new supervisor, to address the error. 

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Create Your Future: Passions Vs. Practicality {Part 3}

Create Your Future: Passions Vs. Practicality {Part 3}

"I've been thinking about interior design, or maybe architecture. Because I really like math, but I also want to be able to do something creative. But then I'm worried about job opportunities, I know it's ridiculous to try to get a job in those fields."

I had a hunch, so I asked, "Do you have any programming or web development experience?" 

"It's funny you ask that because earlier this week I started teaching myself to code online. I like it!" Her face lit up.

"And have you ever heard about interaction design?" She smiled. And then proceeded to tune out the rest of our session because it's clear I had hit a nerve and she just wanted to go google. 

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Find Your Values: Passions Vs Practicality {Part 2}

Find Your Values: Passions Vs Practicality {Part 2}

"The money would be amazing," my friend said, contemplating an offer from a Large Tech Company. "I mean, I think the job would be rough. And there is no such thing as work-life balance there. But I could do anything for a year. Right?" 

Maybe. How precious is a year to you? What is important to you in life? People I meet get stuck A LOT on the dilemma of practicality versus passion. What happens when you have student loans to pay down, and a desire to start a social enterprise or nonprofit? What do you do when you have a family who needs your support and you want to start your own business? What if you have a great stock options offer but you know you'll find the work boring? Do you take the money or do you hold out for something else? And how do you figure that out? 

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Big Scary Life Decisions: Passions Vs Practicality {Part 1}

Big Scary Life Decisions: Passions Vs Practicality {Part 1}

Last week, I went to the doctor and came back with some not-great news. I have a health profile that includes a Big Scary Illness, and occasionally I have a situation where my doc says "Heads up, this doesn't look good". I'm in the middle of one of those scares right now, and there's an internal battle that goes on in my brain in a situation like this: 

1. "Crap I'm going to need lots of money and really good health insurance." (ie, a nice stable job!), and 

2. "Wow life is short, and I should make the most of the time I have by doing what I love." (ie, pursue my passion now while I can!).

It's the ultimate battle: do I prioritize practicality or passion in the face of a life situation that makes me need and want both? 

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Miserable at Work? Try This.

Miserable at Work? Try This.

It's been a tough time at work. There are lots of things to complain about, all of which our fearless leader knows just as well as the people working with her. 

We have limited resources and big to-do lists. We have no natural light. We're in a temporary and open plan office and frequently are asked to move desks or share office space. The air conditioning is either paralyzingly cold or stuffily hot. The technology systems limit flexible work arrangements. Things are changing so much that the targets are constantly moving. 

My first thought on getting home this evening naturally was:  "Ugh. I do not want to go back there tomorrow.". I complained out loud to myself about a situation that feels like it makes good work challenging, too much like work and not enough like productivity. 
Does that sound familiar? 

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You Can't Think Your Way Out of This One

You Can't Think Your Way Out of This One

Hi Janet,
 

A couple of questions for you: 

1. I have still been thinking quite a bit about changing career paths and getting my MBA (I'm working in a university now), but I have two concerns with this path.  A) Is the cost (roughly 40K) worth the payoff?  B) Will I like the career path more than my current one? I have visited an MBA class and found the topic being discussed that day very engaging and something I was generally excited about, but it really was just one class session.  Also, since I already have a graduate degree, is earning a second one really a value add?    

2. If I stay in academia, I will likely not go on to a doctoral program since I have no interest in research work, but I worry that this course of action may stunt my career growth.  

I think what I'm looking for is just a few guiding questions to help me better frame my ideas on these paths.  I have tried to think of questions that would help me work it out, but it just isn't as good as asking you.  

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5 Ways to Hack Your Education

5 Ways to Hack Your Education

"It's just that I don't think I'm getting very much real-world knowledge through my courses," he complained. He was studying an undergraduate business degree, while running a small business to support his university studies. And he was finding his university classes a bit lacking. "It's good information if I wanted to work in corporate I guess," he conceded, "but I don't want to work in corporate. I want to do my own thing." 

I recommended a leave of absence, and I'm pretty sure he'll end up dropping out of his bachelors degree. And I don't think this is a problem. If you know your goals, and it's not clear that university will support those goals, then university might not be the right place for you right now (I have very different advice for those in graduate school, you can read that here).

So what if, like this student, you don't feel like university is meeting your needs, but you still want to learn useful things? Maybe university feels too expensive, or the education isn't exactly what you're looking for, or maybe you have big things to do and university feels like it's going to take too long. Or maybe you've already done your university degree and you still feel like there's more you want to learn or practice? 

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How to Disagree With Your Boss

How to Disagree With Your Boss

I have a great boss. She's an advocate, she empowers me to do my job in the way that I think it should be done, she trusts that I'll follow through on my commitments, and she's interested in my professional growth. She also says "No" to me sometimes, which I hate hearing (of course), and can lead us to conflict. 

So what do you do when your boss says no? When you are SURE that your plan is going to work and they stand in your way? How do you move forward with someone who's first response is to stop you in your tracks? And what if your boss, (unlike mine), is just plain obstinate and unreasonable? 

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