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Career Coach: Enjoy the Journey

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson reminds us that career paths are usually not linear journeys.

Pamela Kleibrink


You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

-- Oh The Places You'll Go byTheodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

I had tucked this fortune cookie message into my wallet: "Keep in mind that it's the journey and not the destination that counts." I asked my husband what he thought that meant. "Don't be so focused on the finish line that you miss out on all the fun and opportunities along the way," Lance answered.

When I first got out of college, my goal was to be a film editor. I worked on a low budget live-action feature, at trailer houses and also on a short that combined live action with animation, which was shown at Filmex, a film festival in Los Angeles.

After working on some films that should not have been made, I got a job on the opposite end of the production spectrum -- in development, reading scripts for NBC and other production companies.

Eventually I found myself working in animation again as a production manager. Later, after working on the TV show <The Simpsons> and the feature Bebe's Kids, I found it hard to find work in animation so I got a job at a video game company as the manager of art. It was there that I found out that people got paid to help people find jobs and I became a recruiter. As a recruiter, I spent a lot of time counseling people about the job search and other life issues, and my husband pointed out that people would pay me for my career coaching, which led me to another aspect of my career. Career coaching and writing this column led to speaking opportunities.

The point of this story is that the path you choose, the direction you choose, might lead to other opportunities you have no idea exist today. If someone had told me when I was in college that I would one day be presenting my Career Strategies Workshop at schools all over the country, I would have thought she was crazy. I was terrified of speaking in public and my acting teacher in college commented that I needed to learn to take more risks. Now I look forward to sharing what I know about networking and personal finance and the job search process with students and faculty from Sarasota to Singapore. Don't be afraid of trying something new and taking a risk.

My sister-in-law Kyle is a realtor and wants to be a radio broadcaster. Last Saturday she had an opportunity to call in as a special guest on a real estate show on the radio. There was a problem with the phone lines and she couldn't get through during the half-hour she was supposed to speak.  Frustration and disappointment might have made her give up. But she kept trying and finally got through. But the real estate show had ended and the next show had started. It was about sports. The host of the real estate show was filling in for the sports show host and was talking about Pete Rose, who happens to be one of Kyle's favorite players. Kyle knows even more about sports than she does about real estate and the radio host asked Kyle to stay on the line as a special guest on the sports show. Several of the listeners called in to say how fascinated they were about the discussion Kyle and the host were having about baseball. The owner of the station heard about the enthusiasm of the listeners and has asked Kyle to be a co-host of the sports show. Now that's a home run.

Never lose sight of your goal, but if an even greater opportunity comes along be ready to explore it. Don't get distracted from your goal, but don't cut off options for achieving it either.

Life is rarely linear. There will always be zigzags on the way to your goals. Keep your eyes on the prize and be ready to explore opportunities along the way or take short detours. But be careful the detours don't lead you too far from your destination or to a dead end. Stay focused on your destination but don't be afraid to take the scenic route.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a frequent speaker at colleges and conferences. She recently recruited for Black Magic Design, a client in Singapore, and is available for recruiting, career coaching and speaking engagements. You can reach her at