I completed the Great North Run back in September and boy was it a challenge. For months I did all the training I could possible do for it; I ate right, ran longer routes as often as I could, I even got fancy trainers. Eventually the morning the whole North East had been waiting for rolled around. I gathered with the thousands of other runners and I ran every gruelling mile of it. It was tiring and long and incredibly worthwhile. But why am I bringing this up in a blog about careers? Two reasons.
The first reason is volunteering. I volunteered to do this challenge and volunteering is the most important thing about pursuing a career that I’ve discovered. It doesn’t matter how long the volunteering position is for or how related it is to what you want to do. Any and all volunteering is good. It will give you an idea of the industry, how well you’re suited to it and build your CV and contacts. In some cases, it can even lead directly to a paid position. This is a topic that I plan on coming back to in later blogs, but as a first post I wanted to get the point across.
Volunteering. Go do it.
The second reason I will expand on here, though it requires some context.
I don’t run with music. Not for any particular reason, I’ve tried it and I either run quicker than I normally would or the headphones fall out. So all I have to keep me company on my runs are the rolling scenery of houses, gardens, parks and shops and my own thoughts. On one of my runs, my mind made the connection that running a half marathon and finding a career are in fact very similar things. They require similar traits such as training, communication and endurance.
The training part is obvious. Either from academic education or on the job experience, training for a career will build up with time. But it can benefit greatly from the next point of communication. Most of the tips and advice I got for my training for the Great North Run came from talking with other runners. Similarly, networking is a vital part of any industry and approaching as many people in your industry as you are able to is a great way to get started. From formal emails directed to important contacts to informal discussions with people you may already know, any way you can think of to build on your knowledge will be a benefit.
But the main thing is endurance. Like I said, my mind would wander during my training sessions. Given that all it had to do was look out for cars and avoid knocking over pedestrians, it had the time to make random associations, such as this (slightly laboured) metaphor. But my mind was also aware of how tired my body was which would invariably, once a run lead to the thought of
“I can’t do this, it’s too hard, I’ll never make it”
It’s this thought that is the hardest, most irritating and downright crippling part of preparing for a run … and looking for a career or job.
I’ve been unemployed a few times in my years on this planet, for various lengths of time. In these times of low income and seemingly infinite spare time, I’ve used ever means at my disposal to change that situation and I’m happy to report that I have managed it. But when you’re pursuing your chosen career path that very thought will appear more than once; “I’ll never make it”. And this is where endurance comes in. From my running training I realised that this thought was only in my head, my body was fine and could keep going. Similarly, I’ve kept on pursuing my career goal, despite the setbacks and while I’m still in the early stages, I am back on track.
…come on. I had to have one running related pun in a post like this!