Tuesday, May 26, 2009

manage your career trajectory

At several points in your career, you'll have to figure out what path you want to take. You may have to decide whether to accept a job offer, or even whether you should apply for a job.

Recently I was talking with a young editor who was wise enough to recognize that a certain opportunity just wasn't right for him. Having just completed school, it would be the first experience on his resumé, and would likely colour all future opportunities, possibly pigeon-holing him as a certain type of editor. And it wasn't the type of editing he wants to do. (Sorry I'm being vague; I'm trying to avoid any identifying details.)

Fortunately this recent grad has the luxury of waiting it out to look for work that's better suited to him and his talents, and I recommend that you use the same discretion, too, when possible. Will your next job give you additional skills above and beyond what you already have (i.e. will you develop and grow as an editor)? Will it provide you with the experience you need to then take the next step? Is it a good building block? Or will it take you away from your eventual goals? For example, if you dream of being a beauty editor, a position at a women's mag (even if you're not handling beauty stories) will get you closer to your goal than a gig at a literary journal. Look for work in the arena you wish to be in and think twice about opportunities that may lead you astray. Being an editorial assistant at the latter is not the same as being an editorial assistant at the former.

Of course, this is all moot if you're just trying to find something to pay the bills. But when you can, consider where your next job might take you.

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