Transferable skills and finding your path

I like to help out students at my alma mater where I received my Bachelor’s degree – the University at Buffalo School of Management. A few times a year they host amazing events I like to be a part of such as “Coffee Cup Conversations” (kind of like speed dating between students and professionals) and “Career Passport Conference” where I present to groups of students on what I did during my time at UB and after, to establish my career.

Students have asked me – “well what if I don’t know what I want to do?” I get this a lot. The good news is, you are already in the right place! My advice is to start getting SOME sort of experience, so you can use your experiences to figure out what you may want to do.

A quick story about me: Both of my parents are OD consultants, so I grew up hearing them talk about training, coaching and team building (among other OD topics). Seemed pretty interesting. I was the best student in my college freshman year intro to calculus class, which landed me a part time job in the on campus math office. Seemed pretty interesting. I’ve always had cats growing up and their behavior fascinated me so I interviewed for and took a job in adoptions at my local SPCA. Seemed pretty interesting.

Even though I’ve had that same mindset – what if I don’t know what I want to do? – I’m so glad that I took the opportunities that came my way. In my opinion, doing something is better than doing nothing. It’s hard for people to understand that because they don’t see the value in taking certain jobs, and don’t want to “waste their time” until they’ve figured out what they really want to do.

Think of it this way – you may not know for sure if you want to be a consultant, mathematician, or veterinarian, but by taking those jobs, you will learn SOMETHING. How to be organized and manage your time, customer service, cash handling, writing business emails – whatever it may be! Most importantly (I think) is that you will meet people. You’ll interact with them. You’ll start building your network and making meaningful connections. Simon Bailey tweeted something along these lines recently: networking and connections are career currency. Work on building meaningful connections now because it will open more doors and opportunities for you later in life.

This also goes for those who are changing careers, decided to take a step back from work and pursue continuing education, etc. Even if you aren’t a student – keep this in mind: everything you do and everywhere you go, gives you a chance to build a connection and learn transferable skills that will be beneficial to you down the road. Finding your path can take time and patience, but work hard, stay positive, and help people along the way, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

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