Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on April 9, 2009
With the economy in turmoil, many MBA graduates are finding the job search tough going. To give readers some insight into the strategies they’re pursuing and the difficulties they face, BusinessWeek has recruited four out-of-work MBAs to write about their experiences for a new feature called “The Hunt” that will appear periodically on the Getting In blog. Comments, as always, are welcome.
By Bryan Glover
With my last entry I talked a bit about my background and my experiences in general during this job search. With this entry, I wanted to get a bit more specific regarding the notion of my dream job and how this experience has affected that notion. As I noted in my first entry, my idea of a dream job is a bit different than most. I received some feedback encouraging my outlook and some criticizing it. I expect that, but my outlook will not change based on feedback.
That being said, I can honestly say that the only “dream jobs” I ever had as a kid were to be a U.S. Marine and a pro-football player. I wasn’t given the genetic gifts necessary to be a pro-football player, and I did my time in the Corps before being forced out because of injury. So what is my current dream job?
Well, it looks like this – it’s challenging, my boss is firm, fair, intelligent, and experienced, the firm is big enough to last but small enough to focus on doing business based on what works and not on the process or procedure, the company is full of bright young people who want to know each other socially, not just professionally, and lastly, my dream job will probably have to do with financial markets and numbers. I can also tell you what I don’t want: a boss who is more concerned about his or her boss’s impression than his or her staff’s, a staff consisting of people who are set in their ways and not comfortable with change or new employees, a job that is far beneath my capabilities, a company that hires/promotes based on credentials or nepotism rather than performance, and a company with no heart.
So this begs the question: have I changed my idea of a dream job because of my job search experience? Honestly, no. What has changed is the fact that I am willing to accept something much less than this ideal to make sure I can pay my bills and keep the roof over my head. One of the main reasons I pursued my MBA was to help make it easier to realize my dream job and still function at a salary level that was comfortable. I wanted to be able to have choices for the rest of my working life. Has it been frustrating to not even be able to find something to pay the bills? Of course. However, I can honestly say that it is not killing me. I am a patient person and I know this job market will turn and people like me will eventually have the choices we envisioned when we first went to grad school. I am not someone who lets a temporary bout of frustration cause me to change my dreams. It may change my short-term goals, but even then I will still be working toward my dreams. And, for those who know me, I will achieve them.
One piece of feedback I received about my previous blog really stood out to me. The comment was critical of my approach to my ideal job and the writer said: “You need better career goals. No one is going to hire you with such a generalist outlook. I would send you out the door immediately.” While I certainly respect this person’s right to this outlook, it simply doesn’t match mine. While neither of us is right or wrong, I know working for this person would be a bad fit.
I think everyone views things through the lens of his own personal experiences and what mine have taught me are that for me and my life, saying, “I wanna be CEO of a Fortune 500 company someday,” might sound great in an interview, it isn’t realistic. To assume that one has that much control over his destiny would ignore my life experiences. I can only say that I want to create an environment where I am as successful as I can be, I am happy, and I feel like my career adds value to my life. I am smart enough to do a full range of jobs, so instead of trying to pick one path that is going to keep me happy and interested for 20 to 30 years, I think it best to focus on the things I can control. Not everyone will agree with this outlook, and I am okay with that, but it works for me and who I am as a person.
Right now, being a generalist is working against me, but time was just a few years ago where being a specialist worked against someone trying to move up in a company. There is nothing I can do about having a generalist career right now. I need to get a job in a field in which I am interested, such as finance or as a business analyst, to spend the next five years becoming a specialist.
At the end of the day, they call it a dream job for a reason. It’s my ideal. I hope I am lucky enough to reach that ideal in the next few years. For now, I am willing to set aside the dream to advance my career and pay my bills.