May 22, 2020 | Why is it cool to work as a career advisor?
The past few weeks were quite interesting. On the one hand, the corona crisis potentiated an overwhelming sense of solitude that you normally feel when you live in a village far from everything. On the other hand, though, the weather was so beautiful! — just perfect for taking a walk in the park and daydreaming.
In this period I had some strange symptoms. I lost a lot of weight. I was often blushing. I was putting on loud Tiësto music and jumping around my garage like a maniac and bumping into things (to such an extent that I was getting some self-inflicted wounds). I was walking around the park and laughing to myself like an idiot. I couldn’t sleep for more than 6 hours a day. In other words, I had some strong signs of affection. Affection with my job this time.
It’s probably the first time since like 10 years when I feel a really strong drive to be good at something. I remember this curiosity and drive when I was starting my adventure with brain science back then. Then, I got through a long period of disillusion and depression. I stayed in a long-lasting toxic relationship with my job, and I even wrote a blog post about this last year. And now, after almost a decade, I’ve got a very similar feeling all again. I could talk for hours and hours about why I like doing what I do right now — namely, helping intelligent people in making good career shifts. But for now, let me just list just the modest top 28 reasons.
A) Daily life in this job
1. WORKING WITH PEOPLE.
Finally! When I was joining academia, I assumed I would be working with people on a daily basis. In fact, maybe 5% of my time was working with other people while 95% was working on my own. Now, I would say that 50% of the time is spent behind the scenes when I create new content, write books and blogs, improve on the previous materials, and work on the business strategy for my company. The other 50% of the time is the time I spend on networking (to read: drinking and dancing), consulting, and teaching people.
2. WORKING WITH SPECIAL PEOPLE.
It is even better than just working with people! It’s not only that I can work with people a lot but also, I only work with highly preselected people. PhDs are all intelligent, but even among PhDs there are bitter and toxic people — haters who are negative about everything they see and hear. But those people don’t ever come to me. People who reach out to external career advisors are proactive and have a good will to do something positive about their lives. They come to the training with a smile on their face and stay for 12 hours straight. Or longer… for as long as it takes to get an answer to every single question. As a result, I only work with people who are both smart and motivated in a positive way. I don’t even recall any client whom I wouldn’t like as a person up to this point.
3. MEETING A LOT OF NEW PEOPLE.
This is an important factor too. For a long time, I felt blocked and my personal network wasn’t growing because my research field was very, very narrow. Now when I work on finding people jobs, I have a very broad spectrum of where I can go and whom I can talk to. This topic is so relatable that I can talk to absolutely everyone about it. And unlike politics or religion, jobs is a topic that doesn’t antagonize people. I feel so unleashed!
4. NO BOSS.
Hey, finally! I think I was born to live my current lifestyle as I always have my own to-do list and I don’t need anyone to interfere with this list and dictate what I should or shouldn’t do next. It took me many years to realize that I function better on my own and that nothing is wrong with being a free spirit. Most people have bosses (and I used to be in an environment where absolutely everyone has a boss), so I used to assume that this is the status quo: the way that things should be. Now I see that it’s not.
5. THERE ARE NO TWO IDENTICAL DAYS.
Every day is different, unexpected things happen, new people cross my way, and I try something new. This sounds obvious but if you have ever been working in academia, you know that daily life at work can also be very monotonous. Also, I experience some some healthy level of unpredictability right now: people are an organic material that makes decisions using heuristics so the outcomes are often unpredictable. Snd that’s just great!
6. NO DOWNTIME.
In some jobs, you need to just sell time for money — you basically burn your time for the paycheck. In this job, even if you teach the same course multiple times, you don’t just burn time because every group reacts differently to the same assignments and asks completely different questions. And this allows me to improve every single time. I don’t even remember when was the last time when I felt like I was losing time. This definitely was a long time ago!
Also, conversations with people are actually meaningful. I am terrible at small talk and I never really enjoyed this type of light-hearted chitchat; every time I end up having a small talk, I feel like I losing time. And now, I don’t really need to practice small talk anymore.
7. YOU CAN SHAKE HANDS WITH THE BENEFICIARY.
It is a really good reason to be happy for me. When I was doing my academic job, I used to construct quite abstract models of the brain and I could never meet beneficiaries of my work. It’s actually quite possible that there were no beneficiaries at all… I was just putting some publications online, getting some (to some extent, random) citations, and that was the end of the process. Now, everything starts with the beneficiary: people contact me because they need my direct help. And that’s an incredible source of motivation to me.
8. YOU CAN SIGN YOUR NAME UNDER YOUR WORK.
Just like in academia, whenever I produce new content, I can put my name on this content. As for a Millenial like me, this is important too!
9. YOU ARE TREATED SERIOUSLY.
Unlike it used to be in academia, people are answering my emails, they are very polite to me, and address my questions with some degree of respect. Again, this sounds obvious but if you have ever been in academia, you know that there are environments where answering emails is not obvious at all!
10. PERSONAL FREEDOM.
I now have a lot of freedom to move around the job market and try whatever comes to my head. If tomorrow I came to the idea to build drones or breed penguins instead of doing career consultancy, I would just need to make a few clicks and change the classification of the company at the online platform for entrepreneurs in the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. It literally takes two minutes and off you go — you can start breeding straight away! And, I can move around in general; I use to do the whole day training in Amsterdam once a month but other than that, there are no constraints. I can also make my own rules for whom I am willing to work with and I don’t need to stand any toxic and opportunistic people on board. Needless to say that my self-development accelerated since this became the case.
B) Creating value for others
1. TANGIBLE VALUE.
Most people can conceptualize how much finding the right job would be personally worth for them. Thus, good career advice has a concrete, tangible value. Outcomes are also tangible — you see a thumb up and a smile on someone’s face if you did a good job, or you don’t see that otherwise.
2. GLOBAL PROBLEM.
What I do now, is analyzing some global problems rather than trying to address some abstract questions that 100 people in the world have ever heard of. Again, Millenials…
3. THE WORK IS NEVER REALLY DONE.
And it will never be done, for as long as I am alive. For some people, this sort of open problem is irritating as there is never this ultimate payoff coming from a finished job. But I don’t mind knowing that there is always another turn to take, and yet another piece of the road ahead. Also, there is a lot of room for improvement. Today’s recruitment procedures and management strategies don’t really follow the changes in society fast enough. There’s so much to do! This is not a type of problem where you would be trying to improve on something that is already almost perfect, e.g., design even better and more beautiful sports car that can reach a speed of a few more miles per hour compared to all the awesome cars that are already out there. Instead, you are solving problems that are unsolved so far. So, if you are adventurous and you like to uncover foreign lands, this is a great place to be!
4. IT’S A GREAT FEELING TO PUZZLE PEOPLE.
Namely, to ask them such questions about themselves that they get astonished, puzzled, and sometimes even embarrassed or shocked. I was always wondering how it feels to be Derren Brown — and I am starting to get the idea how it feels when you ask a few simple questions that make people realize something very important that they have never known about themselves before.
Trust is the currency of the future — and, in the job a career advisor, you create trust. Ever since I started doing what I do now, I got to know more people but I also got to know the people whom I already had known for twenty years from a completely different side. They just started talking more openly about what bothers them, and I realized that I got access to some layer of their soul that I never had access to before.
C) Using my potential in an optimal way
1. I CAN USE MY ANALYTIC MIND…
but not necessarily by solving equations. The job market is not rocket science and there are so many confounding variables that it’s just hard to build any mathematical models of it. Still, the analytic mind helps to make some sense out of the world in case you experience so much noise.
2. I WANT TO DO RESEARCH AND I LIKE PEOPLE.
Now I can research people and I no longer need to choose between the two — how cool is that! Previously, when I was working on the models of the brain, the working time was the time I used to spend in my own world, alone with the codes and formulas and separated from other people. It was almost a scary feeling of being beyond the world, almost like being asleep or imprisoned. Now, I feel so awake and so connected all the time!
3. I CAN FINALLY PUT MY CORE COMPETENCIES TO USE.
I can analyze some complex problems, write, teach, speak, motivate people, and spread some constructive ideas. And, I see value in things and in people. These activities used to be only a small fraction of my working time in the times of the graduate school – I used to spend a lot of time on nonsense tasks, bureaucracy, and writing codes for models that no one is interested in instead.
I can finally reach out to and make connections with people who think alike, and who also have a purpose. And together, we grow bigger and bigger! Even since I started working as a career advisor, in some magic way, the right people started coming to my life.
5. I CAN FINALLY PUT MY PERSONALITY INTO WHAT I DO.
When I was on a research contract, it was bothering me that I was not allowed to use a sense of humor or metaphors/anecdotes while writing scientific articles or talking at conferences. I could never really inject my own style into what I was doing. Now, when talking to people, all these real-world parallels, jokes, and refreshing remarks are actually welcome — so I finally feel like I can express myself properly.
D) The internal feeling of happiness
1. GOOD MOOD IN GENERAL.
Just like mentioned above, I sometimes feel so pumped that I randomly dance around the room and can’t sit down and rest in one place. I just feel healthy on my body and on my soul. Somehow this was never the case when I was working as a PhD candidate. I felt just drained — even in the morning just after waking up.
2. THE NEVER-ENDING CURIOSITY…
…that pulls you out of bed in the morning. And the topic I am now working on is getting even more interesting to me with every single day; every person that gives their thumb up and tells me that I did a good job, makes me even more hungry to learn further and be even better.
3. LOOKING FOR STRONG SIDES IN PEOPLE IS JUST PLEASANT.
Every new person is like a new book to read. But unlike a book, a person is not just a closed project — after you work together, you connect in some way (usually, through LinkedIn) and up from that point, you can observe what happens to them in the future. The project only ends with the death of one of the sides (or, the death of LinkedIn).
4. INTUITION TELLS YOU “YES!”
I no longer have this feeling that something is wrong, that I am blocked in some way, or that there might be something out there that is probably a better career track compared to what I am doing now. In the times I was holding the academic contract, I used to have this itchy feeling (obviously — as this was just true), and it was very disturbing and energy-consuming.
5. HIGH SOCIAL APPROVAL.
It’s great to have the type of a job in which people want to have you around because they feel safer around you (unlike, e.g., a tax inspector or a policewoman). My recent observation is that people feel safer around someone who can make any sense of this unbelievable mess the job market is. What a great feeling.
6. SOME UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD.
Career advisory is also a discipline that lets you understand the world a little bit. On the one hand, you need to understand human motivations and ambitions, and on the other hand, you need to be conscious of how the global economy works and how the global job market progresses. I like to look at society from a perspective, and I feel safer and healthier on my mind when I develop some understanding of how people make important decisions in their lives and how this influences the job market.
E) Other benefits
Last but not least, hey, now the real perks! When you are a career advisor, quite some people ask you out to dinners only because they know that a good quality career advice is worth much more than the bill. Initially, when I realized that I often work for food, I was a bit frustrated. But in the end, I found it just funny. I am already looking forward to even more good food after the crisis!
If you are a good advisor, you can cut barter deals and trade your skills for something else, e.g., help other projects career-wise and culture-wise — so that in return, they can help you in launching (online) sales, in building some components of your projects, in increasing your personal network, etc. Due to this barter, I could pull off many business projects that require specialistic competencies without a financial investment that I couldn’t afford otherwise.
As a summary, it looks like quite a long list of benefits to me!
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Please cite as:
Bielczyk, N. (2020, May 22nd). Why is it cool to work as a career advisor? Retrieved from https://nataliabielczyk.com/why-is-it-cool-to-work-as-a-career-advisor/
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If you would like to read more about careers (for PhDs and other white-collar professionals) and effective strategies to self-navigate in the job market, please also take a look at the blog of my company, Welcome Solutions where I write posts dedicated to these topics.