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专栏 - 向Anne提问

如何选择职业

Anne Fisher 2015年05月31日

Anne Fisher为《财富》杂志《向Anne提问》的专栏作者,这个职场专栏始于1996年,帮助读者适应经济的兴衰起落、行业转换,以及工作中面临的各种困惑。
大学毕业,不知道该做什么?亲朋好友肯定会给你提一些建议。但在《路线图:如何选择终生事业》一书的作者看来,大多数善意的建议都是“噪音”。进行职业选择时,你首先要关掉“噪音”,专注于真正能吸引你注意力的事情。然后开始进入或者尽可能靠近那个领域,即便要从底层做起。

    亲爱的安妮:我很想听听您对我的情况有什么看法。6周后,我即将以优异成绩从大学毕业,但我不知道自己该如何谋生。问题并非我对什么都不感兴趣,事实恰恰相反。实际上,我花了6年时间才完成学业,因为我一直在换专业,此外,我还辅修了许多不同专业,如商业和电影等。

    现在,我的亲朋好友和其他学生给了我各种建议,比如“追随你的激情”,或者“做一些安全的事”,如读法学院或研究生等。职业选择是否也有某种神奇的公式?我希望做在10年或20年后仍会感兴趣的事情。这种想法现实吗?——B.B.

    亲爱的B.B.:现实情况是,不存在这样的神奇公式,但不论你相信与否,你现在的困惑其实是一个很好的迹象。毕竟,你未来将要工作40年或50年,所以现在设想一下如何分配这漫长的时间,实乃明智之举。

    内森•格哈特表示:“社会不会接受“不知道”这种答案。当一个人完全确定该如何迈出下一步,尤其是当他们的决定来自其他人时,我通常会怀疑,他们是否真正深思熟虑过。”

    格哈特很清楚自己在说什么。15年前,他和几位同事决定乘坐一辆露营车行遍整个美国。他们采访了各色职业人士,从捕龙虾的渔夫到脑外科医生,再到大名鼎鼎的商界人士,如星巴克公司CEO霍华德•舒尔茨。这些对话的内容涉及他们如何选择自己的职业,在职业生涯中实现了什么,如果有机会他们会有怎样不同的选择等,并成为美国公共广播公司系列纪录片《路上美国》的素材。有一本新书收录了这些对话内容,或许会对你有所帮助——《路线图:如何选择终生事业》。

    格哈特表示,你首先需要牢记,你听到的大多数善意的建议,“被我们称为噪音。人们会对你说各种废话。”

    就以常被人提起的“追随你的激情”为例。格哈特采访的1000多名成功人士确实找到了他们的激情所在,但“你首先要像婴儿学步一样,经历一个漫长的学习过程。只有极少数人很早就知道自己想要做什么,并真正将其变成自己的事业。如果说“追随激情”曾是人们选择职业的方向,在时下却并不奏效。现在,职业选择的过程是做出许多小的决定,让自己逐渐积累动力,当感觉出现问题时再重新调整。”

    那么,你应该从何处开始?首先,关掉“噪音”,专注于真正能吸引你注意力的事情。然后开始进入或者尽可能靠近那个领域,即便要从底层做起。格哈特引用了电视制片人迈克•拉佐的话:“让自己靠近最感兴趣的事情。”

    中学辍学的拉佐对电视非常感兴趣,尤其是动画。格哈特称,拉佐在特纳广播公司求得了一份邮件收发室的工作,“这样一来,他便可以在分发邮件的时候,自由进出每个人的办公室,近距离了解人们都在做什么。”他对电视节目编排产生了浓厚的兴趣,而且他发现自己非常擅长这种工作。后来,拉佐凭借自己的努力,终于成为卡通电视网第一位电视节目编排员,现在经营着自己的制作公司,取得了巨大的成功。

    留心意外的机会。例如,Facebook数据中心业务总监德尔菲娜•艾博丽告诉格哈特:“同龄人的选择都是意料之内的职业道路,但我希望做一些不同的事情。我一直在寻找能让我实现这一愿望的机会。”为了生活,艾博丽在一家地方银行的机房找到了一份低等的工作,尽管她没有接受过任何技术培训,也没有相关经验。

    令她意外的是,她竟然非常喜欢那份工作。她在《路线图》中回忆称:“我没有在技术面前退缩,而是投入其中。我会坐下来,把问题弄清楚。即便是现在,这种理念也让我受益匪浅。”

    格哈特建议,你需要记住最重要的两条:“首先,对于成功,不存在放之四海而皆准的定义。你必须自己去定义什么是成功,然后为之努力。这是一种可释放自我的领悟。”

    其次,尽管你只有20多岁,改变方向相对容易,但相比其他人为你铺就的所谓“安全”的职业道路,在你认为自己想要工作的领域进行慢慢尝试,可能要面临更大的风险。但格哈特的另外一位采访对象,凯鹏华盈公司的风险投资家兰迪•柯米萨认为“最大的风险在于,耗尽一生去做自己不想做的事,以为这样就可以在未来获得自由,去做自己真正感兴趣的事。”

    反馈:你如何选择当前的职业?如果有机会重来一次,你会做出同样的选择,还是会做出不同的选择?欢迎评论。(财富中文网)

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    审校:任文科

    Dear Annie: I’m curious to hear what you think about my situation. In about six weeks I’ll be graduating summa cum laude from college, and I have no idea what I want to do for a living. The problem isn’t that nothing interests me, it’s that everything does. In fact, it’s taken me six years to get through school because I kept changing my major, and at various times I’ve minored in different things too, including business and film.

    Now, I’m getting all kinds of advice from relatives and other students, like “follow your passion,” or else “do something safe,” like go to law school or grad school. Is there some magic formula for choosing a career? I’d like to do something I’ll still be happy with in, say, 10 or 20 years. Is that a totally unrealistic idea? — Baffled in Boston

    Dear B.B.: Alas, there’s no magic formula but, believe it or not, the fact that you’re baffled is a promising sign. After all, you’ve probably got 40 or 50 working years ahead of you, so it’s smart to make few, if any, assumptions right now about how you’re going to spend them.

    “Our society doesn’t accept not knowing as an answer,” observes Nathan Gebhard. “But when someone is totally sure of their next step, especially if they seem to have gotten the idea from someone else, I always wonder whether they’ve really thought it through.”

    Gebhard knows whereof he speaks. Starting about 15 years ago, he and a couple of colleagues set out to crisscross the U.S. in an RV. They interviewed working people, from lobstermen to brain surgeons to celebrity businesspeople like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Those conversations—about how they ended up in their careers, what they’ve realized over time, and what they would do differently if they could—became the basis of the PBS documentary series Roadtrip Nation and of a fascinating new book you might want to check out, Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do with Your Life.

    The first thing to keep in mind, Gebhard says, is that most of the well-meaning advice you’re hearing is “what we call noise. People will tell you all kinds of nonsense.”

    One example: The oft-repeated counsel to follow your passion. The 1,000-plus successful people Gebhard has met have indeed found their passion, but only “at the end of a long process, a long series of baby steps. An absurdly small minority knew early on what they wanted to do and just went and did it. Careers don’t work that way anymore, if they ever did. Instead, it’s about making lots of small decisions that build momentum over time, and readjusting if something doesn’t feel right.”

    So, right now, where do you start? First, tune out the “noise” and focus on what truly grabs and holds your attention. Then start working in that field, or as close to it as you can get, even if you have to start at the bottom. Gebhard quotes television producer Mike Lazzo: “Put yourself in the proximity of the things that interest you the most.”

    Lazzo, a high school dropout, really cared about TV, especially animation. He applied for a job in the mailroom at Turner Broadcasting where, Gebhard says, “he got to drop into everyone’s office, while he was delivering their mail, and see up close what they were doing.” Programming caught his fancy, and he turned out to be good at it. Lazzo worked his way up to become the first programmer ever at Cartoon Network, and he now runs his own highly successful production company.

    Keep an eye out for the unexpected. For instance, Delfina Eberly, director of data center operations at Facebook, told Gebhard, “The roads that my peers took, they were expected, [but] I wanted something different. I was searching for something to connect to.” To pay the bills, Eberly took a lowly job in the computer room of a local bank, even though she had no tech training or experience.

    To her own surprise, she loved it. “Instead of shying away from technology, I leaned into it. I would just sit down and figure it out,” she recalls in Roadmap. “And that philosophy has really served me well, even today.”

    The two biggest things to keep in mind, Gebhard says, are, “first, there is no universal definition of success. You get to define what it looks like for you, and pursue that. It’s a very freeing realization.”

    And second, taking baby steps into a field where you think you’d like to work, while you’re still in your 20s and can change direction relatively easily, might look riskier than following a supposedly “safe” career path that someone else has laid out for you. But consider what Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist Randy Komisar, another of Gebhard’s interviewees, calls “the most dangerous risk of all—the risk of spending your life not doing what you want, on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”

    Talkback: How did you choose your current career? If you had it to do over again, would you go into the same field, or a different one? Leave a comment below.

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