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Most career advice sucks

…and by that I mean either obvious or just plain wrong. I have seen a lot of career advice on the internet and quite frankly a lot of it is BS. Here are some of the gems I found from various blogs, msn articles, and webzines:

“Be innovative” aka “Be creative” aka “Try new things” aka “..introduce new ideas”
-Written a thousand ways, and always I respond: ‘Ya think?’
“Volunteer for boards”
-Im not sure about you but there are no ‘boards’ at my work to volunteer for. Oh and the kind of companies that have boards generally SELECT people for them.

-“Don’t ruin your reputation”
-And here I thought getting super drunk and dancing around on the table at the company Christmas party was a good idea.

-“The best strategy is to just be the best in your area. That makes you indispensable”
-Wrong. In fact, I’ll give you a bunch of reasons why:
1) I worked at Hewlett Packard for six years. During the first threeish years I worked there, I did very little more than I was asked. Sometimes not even that. For the last three years I worked there I worked my ass off. During the last year I was there I was working on a large project and people around me were dropping like flies during the layoffs. I was originally supposed to be support for the project but because of the layoffs I turned out to be the only engineer on the project. Keep in mind I was in college, and so receiving college level pay, I was not a huge liability. Just as we finished the first phase of the project I was laid off. I was the ONLY engineering resource left on the project and the only one who knew fully how it worked. And I was let go before I could finish completely or do any documentation . There is no such thing as being indispensable. It doesn’t matter what you are doing or what you are getting paid or where you are on the ladder.
2) Now, its a good idea to be an expert in one area but you should also understand as much as possible in all aspects. Being rounded is a good thing. What if your area of expertise goes away, what then?
3) Getting pigeonholed into doing one thing all the time sucks. You know Bob in department B thats been doing the same thing for 30 years….do you really wanna be him?
Dont be Bob

“Do what you were good at in school”
When my dad was in college he was pushed hard by councilors to go into physics because he was REALLY good at it. As it turns out he hated working in a lab and went on to do other things. Just because you are really good at something doesn’t mean you should do it. This problem is particularly big when still in college. I switched majors somewhere in the range of four times before I finally settled on something. Just because a class is fun and you are good at the subject does not mean you should bank your life on it. Being good at something in college does not equate to real life success. Plus, there are very few jobs directly related to drinking beer.


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