Search form

Career Coach: Fatherly Advice and Wisdom

In honor of Father's Day, Pamela Kleibrink Thompson shares her dad's wise words.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

In June, we celebrate and recognize our dads, sometimes bestowing ties or fishing flies on them. One of the most important things I learned in college was something I learned from my father. This Father’s Day, I want to celebrate my dad’s wisdom and share it with you.

It was always understood in our family that all the kids would attend college. My dad believed that education opens doors and provides opportunity. There was never a question that, once at college, we would finish. I was a sophomore and on track as a biology major, intending to go on to medical school. I attended UC Santa Cruz, a place with a great biology program. My only problem -- I had discovered another passion in my freshman year -- filmmaking!

I worried about breaking the news to my dad, who was helping me financially through college. I was concerned he might be disappointed with my choice. When I told him, without any hesitation he calmly said, “It’s your life. You have to do whatever it takes to make you happy. Do whatever pleases you -- not anyone else.”

My dad had found his passion when he went to work for IBM in the '50s, when computers were new and huge and data was entered by feeding in rectangular cards filled with tiny holes. My dad worked at the same company his entire career. He had job security and stability -- two things I would never have if I pursued my passion. He encouraged me to go my own way, regardless of whatever obstacles might lie ahead.

Are you doing what you want to do with your life? Or are you trying to please someone else?

If you are not pursuing what you’re passionate about, take some time to think about how you got on that track. Was it because someone expected you to pursue a particular career path? Or because you thought they wanted you to?

Who are you trying to please? Your parents and others only want the best for you. But what your loved ones perceive to be a good choice may be the wrong choice for you.

Take responsibility for your life and your career. If you know what your passion is, don’t compromise. It’s up to you to find a way to pursue your dream. If you are an aspiring artist, start taking a sketchbook to work. If you are an aspiring actor, find a community theater where you can practice your craft.

If you are doing what you want, or at least making every effort to pursue what you love, then keep going. There will be obstacles, but you are on the right track.

My dad worked for IBM his entire career and had a stable income and a sense of job security. He liked working with computers and today in his retirement he teaches seniors how to use them. 

Today, no matter where you work and whatever your job is, you don’t have job security. If holding onto a sense of security is the reason you are putting off pursuing what you love, realize this -- the most secure job in the world is the one that you do with passion. It’s the job you would do even if you weren’t paid. Pursue your passion and take ownership of your life.

Pamela Klebrink Thompson graduated from UC Santa Cruz as a theater arts/film major, but has used her science background to write and produce training films for nurses and educational television about calculus. She wants to thank her father, Paul Kleibrink, for always encouraging her to pursue her dream whatever it might be. She hopes that readers will listen to her dad’s advice and pursue what they want to do. To contact Pamela for a career coaching session, recruiting or speaking engagement, email her at