American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

The Gifts That We Give Ourselves

by Steve Ritch

Every career has the opportunity to provide individuals with gifts that they never even imagined they needed. Working as an assistant in communication sciences and disorders may provide more opportunities for those special moments than would many other careers. Whether you work with children or a geriatric population or you work in a school or health care setting, the work you do with your supervisor changes the lives of the clients you serve.

You and your supervisor regularly help people realize the gifts of effective communication, but what do you get out of what you do? Does your job reward you? Are you living up to your full potential, or do you simply put in your time and call it a day?

Many people find that their jobs offer varying levels of satisfaction from time to time. After all, who hasn’t had a daydream of winning the lottery or landing the perfect job? If you have those fantasies, then you are not alone. Consider the following statistics:

  • A recent University of Phoenix® survey finds that more than half (55 percent) of working adults are interested in changing careers, with nearly a quarter (24 percent) extremely or very interested in a career change. Only 14 percent of American workers are in their dream careers. The most desired careers are in arts and sciences (17 percent), business management (16 percent) and technology (14 percent).
  • The survey also looks at the barriers to career change and whether or not working adults are living up to their own expectations, and those of their parents. The online survey of more than 1,600 U.S. employed adults was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of University of Phoenix in April 2013. 1 

Clearly, many professionals experience a change in their jobs or careers. However, is there potential to grow your current position into the dream job that you desire? What kind of support or resources do you need to make your existing job into your ideal career? Do you have mentors or advisors who can help you?

The first step in creating any change in your life is to be very clear about what you want. You need to form a concise vision for what your dream job looks like and then keep that image firmly fixed in your mind. Every journey begins with having a destination in mind and taking the first step.

The second step is to develop a plan. Dan Schawbel, a Gen Y career expert, founder of Millennial Branding, and author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Building an Outstanding Career, gives four great suggestions for turning your current position into your dream job.

  • Volunteer – Dan recommends volunteering for strategic projects within your organization that will enhance your professional network and develop your abilities.
  • Experiment outside of the office – Dan relates the story of how he wanted to offer more than his marketing job allowed at the time, so he started his own blog, a magazine, and an online video show that focused on personal branding in the age of social media. After 6 months he was profiled by Fast Company. The article was picked up by his company's PR department and forwarded to the vice president, who decided to hire him as the organization's first social media specialist. Thus, he was able to write his own job description and evolve the role as he went along.
  • Identify opportunities for the company to improve – Dan suggests that individuals pay attention to what the company isn't doing well and think about how they can improve the situation using their skills. If the problem is important enough, then its resolution could even justify creation of an entirely new position. Companies need people who can identify and solve problems. Explain that, if the problem is solved, operations will run smoother or that your proposed solution will lower costs or increase revenues. You should ask for help from your fellow co-workers if the problem is too big for you to handle alone.
  • Make a deal with your manager – Dan offers that if you're willing to do additional work and take a risk to get what you want, then make an arrangement with your manager to split your time between projects. Before you ask your boss, make sure that you've proven yourself at your current job, which usually takes at least 6 months to a year. Then, have a clear plan of what that additional work or job would include, the amount of time you would spend doing it, and how it would contribute to your role and support your company. 2

Whatever your plan, you should know that creating your dream job is not something that will happen overnight. In fact, it will probably involve a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for you. After all, the old adage about taking your time to do something that is worthwhile is true. If it is important, it is worth investing your time and effort into doing it well. Sometimes, we are given the gift of an ideal career, and sometimes we have to work toward creating that gift for ourselves.


 

1 University of Phoenix. (2013). More than half of working adults are interested in changing careers and nearly three quarters are not in the career they planned, reveals University of Phoenix survey. Retrieved from www.phoenix.edu/news/releases/2013/07/more-than-half-of-working-adults-are-interested-in-changing-careers-and-nearly-three-quarters-are-not-in-the-career-they-planned-reveals-university-of-phoenix-survey.html.

2 Schawbel, D. (2013, September 3). Can't find your dream job? Try creating your own from scratch. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://careers.theguardian.com/find-dream-job-create-own.

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