A Terrifying Conversation with a Career Counselor

Also known as “It’s Easier to Stay Put than Put Yourself Out There.” During NTIG’s hiatus, I too did some big-girl things: I finally passed my Professional Engineer exam (yay!) and I met with a career counselor. For my entire professional career, I’ve told myself that I’m happy to be where I am, but once I obtain licensure I will owe it to myself to shop around a bit.

Well, that day finally came. And I found myself completely at a loss. My résumé hadn’t been updated since I left graduate school many moons ago, and somehow I didn’t think that any future employers would want to know about my high school GPA. The Internet was helpful but overwhelming, so I checked out my alumni association and discovered that I get four–yes, four–free visits with a career counselor per year of membership. Awesome!

Except, in addition to awesome, it was also terrifying. Questions like, “Do you want to do this job for the rest of your working life?” and, “What transferrable skills do you have?” called to mind the theme song from Malcolm in the Middle: “Yes—no—maybe/I don’t know?/Could you repeat the question?” There was so much to take in, and so many questions to which I just didn’t have answer. Of course, that’s exactly what career counselors are there for and we had some good, thought-provoking discussions.

Still, I came home and stared blankly at the template for my new, “hybrid” résumé. Doubts started creeping in. Is some nebulous thing I’m looking for going to be any better than what I’m already doing? I’m a classic “the devil you know” person and the idea of revamping everything was, quite frankly, paralyzing. It’s STILL paralyzing and my session with the counselor was months ago.

But I am trying. I set up some goals with a buddy of mine, and we’ve promised to critically review each other’s résumés as well as provide feedback about different job options and ten-year plans. I revamped my LinkedIn page and checked out the Google search results on my name. It’s scary to think about having to go out there and prove my worth all over again, but it’s also pretty exciting. If nothing else, it’s been a definite confidence-booster to think about what I’m actually good at and what I realistically bring to the table. I encourage all savvy girls to sit down, on occasion, and examine their strengths (and, yes, weaknesses) with a liberal dose of honesty–it’s good for you. Even if all of this work only goes towards a raise negotiation discussion with my current employer, it will still be worth it.

Worth it … but still frightening!

You can contact Krista, the author of this post, at krista@nottheitgirls.com.

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